Five o'clock in the early morning, I'm waiting for the tour bus with all my luggages. Because the big buggages will be stored in the cart, I put some things I need in another backpack and the monopod is also taken with me.
Many tourists also wait for their bus in front of the hostel.
Alice Spring looks like a temperary place for the tourists. The tourists who arrive today may leave tomorrow.
After our bus collected all the members, we leave Alice Spring before sunrise.
Just as we leave the town, lots of cars are waiting on the road.
Is there any car accident? No, it's a big bush fire!
Our guide, Mark Cooper, says there is a bush fire in the front and the road is closed by the police.
What! My journey does not begin yet and it may end because of the fire!
The members go to the other side of road and look for the fire.
There is actually a raw of fire in the far place, and it means that the fire is pretty big.
Due to the high temperature of the smoke, it would be dangerous to drive across the road.
No one knows how the situation will be.
We wait for a long time in the car, and some guys are playing the football on the roadside.
About 8:30, Mark takes us back to Alice Spring.
I order another breakfast in the McDonald and so does other tourists coming back for the same reason.
Except for waiting the information, there is nothing we can do.
I worry a lot about my journey because my next plane departs from Ayers Rock and I really want to see Uluru. Uluru is very meaningful to me. If the tour is canceled, the transportation to Ayers Rock would be a big problem.
Some of the members also worry about the same trouble as me and talk to Mark for the solution.
Fortunately, the good news comes at 9:30. After waiting for three hours, the road is open and we could depart finally.
Driving through the road where the bush fire happened, the scene is quite horible.
Even we drive for a few minutes, the scene of the burnt ground is still there.
Since we depart late, the itinerary would be changed a little.
Mark says, we are lucky to watch the sunrise at King's Canyon.
Though we will miss some attractions today, I think the journey to Uluru is safe at least.
This is what the travel is. No one knows what will happen in the next moment.
You may lose something but get more somewhere.
The scenery on the way looks the same. Except for the burnt ground, no matter where you look is the red wasteland with short trees and bushes. There is no any hibitation, shops or even gas stations.
This red kingdom is wider than I expected. It's hard to escape the boring zone.
So, it's not recommend to drive on your own. If there is an accident, no one could help you.
How far is the King's Canyon from Alice Spring? Let me tell you slowly.
We drive very fast for two hours and then take a rest in the only one gas station.
The shop, restaurant and toilet are also availaible here.
Because the weather is too hot and I've drunk half of the water I have, I buy another two bottles of water in the shop.
About three o'clock, we arrive at Kings Creek Station where is the nearest place you could add the fuel and shop before King's Canyon. By the way, Kings Creek Station also provide the camping ground.
Therefore, it also spend us five and half hours to reach King's Canyon since we departed from Alice Spring.
Kings Canyon is a part of Watarrka National Park located in the southwest of Alice Spring.
The wall of King's Canyon is over 300m high. There are two walking trecks you could choose.
Kings Creek Walk is the easy one. You will trace the creek to the bottom of the canyon and reach a platform where you could watch the walk above. This walk takes about one hour.
As for Kings Canyon Rim Walk, the popular and recommend route, you will climb to the top, walk through the waterhole and sand domes, and then back to the starting point after the loop. It takes about 4 to 5 hours.
Because part of the canyon is the sacred aboriginal site and considering the environmental protection, the tourists must walk on the specific routes.
Besides, it would be dangerous if you walk off the walkig track.
Remember not to step on any plants and don't leave any garbage.
It's no doubt that Mark lead us to Kings Canyon Rim Walk.
The climb at the beginning is quite steep. This Heartbreak Hill called by the locals really makes my heart beating fast on th half way.
However, in order to watch the sunset in time, I still try hard to climb to the top.
The view of the canyon below and the surrounging is indeed amazing when you climb higher.
The sky is so blue that the scenery looks fake.
Walking along the edge of North Wall, the car park is already invisible.
How height is the wall over 300 metre high? If you find soneone walking opposite on the South Wall, you may notice the contrast between the man and the wall.
We descend to the Garden of Eden between North Wall and South Wall on the half way.
On the boardwalk, I see a water hole surrounded by trees in the bottom.
It's interesting to say hello to the people in the opposite stairs.
Getting across the Kings Creek to another side of the canyon, the scene changes and is composed of lots of sand domes.
The sunset in the winter is about 5:30 to 6:00 in the evening.
When we reach the platform at South Wall, I finally could rest up for a while.
I compare the scenes along the walk. The scenes in the North Wall, Garden of Eden and South Wall are different. At the begining, the wall around North wall is rough with small bushes. Reaching the bottom of Garden of Eden, there are tall trees because of the waterhole and the good surrounding. Finally, the wall around South Wall is smooth just like to be cut by the knife and there are sand domes on the top.
Shined by the sunlight, the wall looks shining too.
During the rest time, the members take photos with various poses such as lying along the edge in a row.
Besides, two Spinifex Pigeons appear nearby. It's fun to meet such a cute pigeon.
Spinifex pigeon and Crested pigeon are similar in the look but different in the color.
Spinifex Pigeon could be classified into White-bellied Spinifex Pigeon and Red-bellied Spinifex Pigeon.
The white-bellied is distributed in the arid area of northwest, northeast and central Australia, while red-bellied is distributed in Pilbara of West Australia.
The rusty color of spinifex pigeons is protective in the red soil plain.
The name "Spinifex" is derived by the spinifex grasses they live.
Anyway, I think Spinifex pegion should be my favorite pigeion of all.
As the sun descends to the mountain, it's the time for catching the beautiful moment of the sunset.
Except for manual focusing, I try different apertures and shutter times.
I feel I could control my camara more precisely now since I learn to use it as I travlled in Iceland.
Some of my good photos are probably taken by my intuition with good luck.
However, I wish I could take any beautiful scnery perfectly as I wish by my skill, not my good luck.
Good luck is not always availaible.
On our way back to the car oark, Mark tell us something about a plant called ipi-ipi.
In the book "Ayers Rock, the Olgas & Kings Canyon, Northern Territory" written by Anne Kerle also introduce the purpose of this plant.
For aboriginals, ipi-ipi is used for medical purposes.
They might burn ipi-ipi for a smoke therapy and the milky sap is used for skin problems.
According to the book, the sick person lay on the pit at where large portion of the vine is burnt to produce smoke. As for the milky sap is collected from the borken stem, especially after the rain. Besides, they also boil the stems in the hot water and the liquid could be used for washing and good for the skin complaints.
Except for the medical treatment, ipi-ipi is also used for punishment to the people who made something wrong.
Due to its medical charateristic, ipi-ipi will make eyes numbed and blind for a few days.
The punished person will be left somewhere. He could not find the way home and also the food and water.
However, if he could go home safely, he will be forgiven for the wrongs. If not, he died.
Mark also teaches us an aboriginal greeting for Hello: palya (Pronounced as Pa-li-ya)
Palya means Hello, Goodbye, Thank you and etc.
When we arrive at the car park, Mark prerpare the fried noodles for our dinner.
The stars above is amazing and there is nothing better than enjoying the dinner under the stars.
After the dinner, I take my first photo of stars with the monopod.
About the photographing of stars, the articles on the internet provide useful tips:
(1) Use the Manual Mode, B shutter with the shutter line. The shutter time is about 30 seconds.
(2) ISO could be 800 or over.
(3) Use the Manual Focusing (MF) and the focal distance is infinite(∞)
(4) The aperture could be as big as possible.
If you want to take photos of the star treck, you will need the equatorial mount or the similar equipment that could trace the stars automatically.
Everyone is tired when we drive to the campsite "Curtin Springs" tonight.
The night is dark and freezingly cold.
It's my first time to sleep in a swag which looks like a single tent without the frame.
We arrange the swags around the campfire and the sleepbag is put into the swag.
Though it's not confortable to cover the canvas on the face, you won't like the cold air slipping into your warm swag.
The route map of Kings Canyon Rim Walk ---
1) Walking the blue line from the car park
2) Climbing Heartbreak Hill (The red line)
3) The first part of the green line is North Wall and the second is South Wall.
4) The pink line descends to Garden of Eden.
5) From South Wall, Walk along the cyan line back to the car park.