Stories of the outback: THIS is a canyon

If you can muster the energy to wake up before sunrise, climb up the 300 steps of ‘Heart Attack hill’, and walk through rocks pressed by the waves of an ancient inland sea, I guarantee you will find the ‘Garden of Eden’ at the heart of Kings Canyon – one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots I have ever come across.

Here, even the cockroaches have amazing calligraphy designs going on on their back. And you can even claim to time travel to way way before the dinosaurs. Exclusively found in the Macdonnell ranges, the Macrozamia macdonnellii (cycad ferns) have called called Earth home for over 250 million years. The one pictured is over 600 years old. The way to know apparently is by counting the leaves as each year, a certain number of leaves are sprouted.

There are actually male and female cycads. Males rely on a little specialised insect pollinators (Cycadothrips albrechti) to mate with the females. Once it’s ready, it will release chemicals so vile, the little insect will kick itself out of its shelter and seek salvation in the female plant, taking the funky times with it.

But apparently, all this is not impressive to the ‘OATs’ (Obnoxious American Tourists who give other U Staters a bad rep), who it turns out are more universally despised than what I previously thought. According to my tour guide, to shut up their constant comparisons, he likes to reveal this little fun fact to them: unlike the Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon is a REAL canyon :O :O .Trump that! To be honest, I gave him a higher review rating just for that, as it kinda felt like a Crocodile Dundee ‘This is a knife’ moment when he said it.

Now before all the American truthers come out, comparisons between the two are grossly unfair. The sandstone of Kings Canyon was laid 440 million years ago – about the same time the first life on land appeared. Being so ancient, there’s been a lot more time for erosion to take its toll compared to the Grand Canyon, which was formed in the last 80 million years.

So there, poo on you Americans. We were here first and our canyons ROCK! (Yes, I went there)

Yours in jest,



Liked this? Check out the rest of this series:

> Stories of the outback: the tale of two stones

Stories of the outback: the climb

Stories of the outback: The Ghan

Stories of the outback: Hermannsburg


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