Watarrka National Park Geology
Located midway between Alice Springs and Uluru-KataTjuta National Park, Watarrka National Park covers 71,000 hectares and is home to Kings Canyon. This ancient landscape has evolved over hundreds of millions of years, featuring remarkable geological formations that date back 440 million years. Kings Canyon Resort is situated right inside the national park.
The Luritja people have inhabited the land for more than 20,000 years, with the first European explorer, Ernest Giles, traversing the region in 1872.
This ancient landscape has been sluiced by vast inland lakes and was once covered in tropical woodlands, some of which remain in the Garden of Eden on the canyon floor. Kings Canyon Resort was built in 1991, offering visitors a base from which to explore Watarrka National Park and walk the canyon rim, as well as to admire the beauty of nearby Carmichael's Crag at sunset.
When we speak of geological time we talk in terms of millions of years. If you drive along the Mereenie Loop Road from Alice Springs, you will encounter the 800-million-year-old MacDonnell Ranges, passing the ancient Finke River, Mount Sonder and the incredible Haasts Bluff. Slightly "younger" than its southern cousins, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and KataTjuta (the Olgas), which were formed some 550 million years ago, the sandstone of Kings Canyon was laid 440 million years ago at about the same time the first life on land appeared.
When you think that the earth was formed 4,600 million years ago and that the dinosaurs became extinct just 65 million years ago, you can appreciate how ancient the Central Australian landscape is and what monumental forces have shaped and moulded what you see today.