Although known by the aborigines for eons and a central part of many dreaming stories, this central Australian twin-act was first sighted by a European when Ernest Giles passed nearby in 1872 and ever since then their distinctive shapes have been a part of the Australian identity.
We arranged our itinerary to include a few days in the area when driving from WA to Queensland, staying at the Ayers Rock Resort campground, the nearest place you can camp to these red rock marvels.
To get there we turned south off the Gary Junction Road at Papunya – we had planned to get fuel at Papunya but the town was eerily quiet and appeared to be in lock down, we later found out there had been some trouble in the town… Luckily the Cruiser’s long range tank indicated enough fuel to reach King’s Canyon plus we had a spare 20l jerry can of diesel as a back up.
The Glen Helen Pastoral Loop road from Papunya to Namatjira Drive was amongst the roughest roads of our whole trip with deep corrugations from shoulder to shoulder that could not be avoided. Thankfully the stretch is only ~60km long so we soon dropped onto the much smoother Mereenie Loop and found a roadside camp for the night, hidden behind a copse of trees at what looked like another old road construction clearing.
The next morning we got to King’s Canyon Resort roadhouse with the Cruiser running on empty, taking 208l to fill the 215l tank, so about 30km to spare. We had never before had to draw the long range tanks down so far so it is reassuring to know that we can access all the fuel that we are carrying.
From there it was an easy 300km cruise to Yulara to check in and make camp. Along the way we passed the third famous red tor in the area, Mt Conner which was formed at the same time as Uluru and has sometimes been confused for it.
Now it was time to enter full tourist mode with drives to and around Yulara and Kata Tjuta before a trip highlight – a helicopter scenic flight over both of these outback icons!
A lot has been written about these gigantic granite monoliths so I’ll just drop some pictures here to tell our visit story.
From Yulara we head to the beautiful Finke Gorge National Park – watch out for our next blog to join next leg of our adventure.