Looking up at the sheer canyon walls from the shady tree lined creek bed I could make out pimply protuberances sticking out along the top –
People… up on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, were leaning out over the edge admiring the view or snapping a photie of the stunning red rugged cliff face, which from my vantage point, down here on the canyon-floor required no such antics!
I’ve enlarged them for you in the picture above on the left, which is clipped from the top left of the right hand photo… that gives a sense of scale!
This was our second day visiting Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park.
Watarrka (pron Wah-tah-kah), named in 1989 is the local Luritja people’s name for the Umbrella bush (Acacia ligilata), which is a common plant on the sand plains in the region.
Assuming bigger must be best, meaning a 6km (3.75 miles) challenging Rim walk must be better than an easy 2km (1.25 miles) Creek stroll, we’d tackled the 500 (or so) steps taking us up and around the Kings Canyon Rim Walk (click the link for the full story!) on our first day, so we’d already circumnavigated the canyon around the top getting some bird’s eye views of the sheer sides that appeared to be oh-so crisply cut right down to the canyon floor, where the Kings Creek Walk that we were doing today meandered.
Down here on the creek bed, it was a very different place to the harsh environment up on the rim where the sun not only beats down from overhead, but also rebounds back up from the barren red hot rock underfoot.
Down here is where the Luritja people would have lived.
Sheltered from the extremes of the weather.
Down here there was a sense of protection and I could feel the life and the footsteps that had gone before me
– and I don’t mean those of tourists!
The River Red Gum known as Itara (pron I-tar-ah) in the local Luritja tongue were an important food source.
Ngapari (pron nah-pah-ri), a white sugary scale that forms on the River Red Gum leaves was collected by the women as they shook the branches making bits of the sweet crust fall either into a receptacle or onto a flat rock below, where it was swept together with a small branch and packed into a ball for sharing.
Then, there are the big white grubs – maku (pron mah-koo), which live at the bottom of long tubes leading from the surface down to the roots of the River Red Gums when they’ve been exposed by flood-waters. The women put a long piece of hooked grass down these tubes and would pull the grub out quickly to then cook on hot coals.
Aboriginals appreciate their precious landscapes.
They look up to and bestow a healthy respect to the land-forms that support them.
And as the canyon walls rose up to encompass and embrace us it also signaled that we were reaching the end of our permitted trail.
In these lower reaches aboriginal families would have camped together – But the women and children, like us visitors, would not venture further into the canyon’s inner secret folds.
Beyond this point lies a hidden world where mens’ private ceremonies were performed.
It was here, at our turning point, that we came upon a side channel of water remaining in this otherwise dry creek.
As we stood beside this pool there was a sense of sanctuary and oneness with nature when a pair of yellow and white birds came in to drink – sharing this life giving resource.
And there was evidence of years of previous occupation at the edge of the pool – small wells for storing water, which covered with a rock would have preserved this liquid gold from evaporation so when the main pool finally disappeared leaving exposed dry rock, a final vestige would be saved for survival.
Also of interest on the far side was the remains of a huge woody plant base – that looked ancient.
I have no idea what it was – Just that it resembled in shape an enormous hollowed out sea urchin shell! (if you know do tell in the comments below!)
But no matter what it was – “that thing belongs here“.
And as we prepared to leave this special place, I caught sight of this stunning reflection of the canyon walls in this precious pool of liquid life.
Circumnavigating the Canyon around the top on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk (6km)
and then penetrating the base of the canyon walls up the creek-bed walk (2km)
offered two very different perspectives.
Is one better than the other?
Or is it a simple case of…
they’re different 🙂