A trip to Kings Canyon is incomplete without seeing the spectacular sea of beehive-like rock domes sitting on the top of the rim walk that Kings Canyon is famous for. It’s a fascinating geological wonder that one has to see in order to believe it. There’s nothing in the world that looks quite like it.
A Sea of Beehive-Like Rock Domes & Kuninga Men
From the Garden of Eden, our tour group hiked up a set of wooden stairs that brought us to the other side of the canyon that gave us a great view of the beehive-like rock domes. The sea of beehive-like rock domes make the plateau look like a ‘lost city’.
The beehive-like rock domes are the result of erosion of vertical cracks in the sandstone. The domes on top of the range started as cube-shaped blocks bounded by intersecting cracks. Through time, a combination of wind and water erosion gradually worn away the sides and top corners of the cube-shaped blocks to form the giant beehive-like rock domes we see today.
To the Luritja people of the Watarrka area, the domes are young kuninga men who travelled through here during the Tjukurpa (or Dreamtime). Kuninga is the Luritja name for the Western Quoll, a unique Australian marsupial. They’re sometimes called ‘native cats’. 🙂
Of Poisonous Ancient Cycads & A Jellyfish Fossil
We spent several minutes admiring the earthly-coloured flaky terrain and the sea of beehive-like rock domes from the edge of the cliff. For safety reasons, visitors are strongly advised to stay away from the cliff edge, not to take shortcuts and stay on the marked track.
When we were at the location of a dead sea’s ripple marks in Kings Canyon, Rhea promised to show us the fossil of a jellyfish. To see photos of the dead sea’s ripples at Kings Canyon, click here. She kept her promise and pointed to us its secret location on the ground. We were astonished to see what looks like the shape of a small fossilized jellyfish on the ground and took photos of it. 😀
Besides the jellyfish fossil, Rhea also informed us about the ancient Cycads growing in the area. For your info, Cycads are the oldest living group of seed producing plants in the world. They have been around for at least 250 million years; long before dinosaurs came into the scene! But unlike the dinosaurs, we can still see them today.
Cycads are extremely poisonous, therefore it’s best to not touch them. Many early explorers, including Captain Cook Leichhardt and Stuart discovered the hard way that cycads are poisonous. Luckily, none of their men actually died, they just got really sick. Macrozamia macdonnellii is Central Australia’s local cycads.
The Magnificent North Wall & Spellbinding Kestrel Falls
After that, we continued our journey to another interesting site in Kings Canyon known as the North Wall where each of the many colours of the wall tells a story. The many broken pieces of the Mereenie Sandstone show that the red-brown colouring is only a thin veneer. Underneath is pale-coloured rock: compacted white beach and dune sand, deposited 360 million years ago.
The dark rusty vertical streaks are from rainwater which filters down through the rock, soaking up iron oxide. It then trickles down the cliff face, where it evaporates and leaves behind a rusty iron stain. Green and black patches of algae also adorn the cliff face, adding to the patchwork of colours.
Kestrel Falls is a dry cliff that transforms into a spectacular waterfall after heavy rain. It is named after the Australian Kestrels that roost in the cliffs. The white stains we see on the wall are Kestrels’ droppings. Lucky visitors will be able to see a Kestrel hovering in the air, searching for a feed, then suddenly drop to the ground to claim an unsuspecting prey. 😉
Up next: Giles Track and visiting the salt plains of Lake Amadeus, ochre red sand dunes & Mount Conner at the Red Centre Way