Desert Oasis – Kings Canyon Resort Experience

kings canyon resort

I’m not going to lie, getting to Kings Canyon from Alice Springs was a bit of an event. I guess I’m just a soft city mouse, but the two hours of driving on corrugated, teeth shattering dirt roads was a bit much. But that introduction to the Kings Canyon Resort meant that when we finally arrived at this outpost in the middle of nowhere, we were darn glad to be there.

Kings Canyon was our first overnight stop in the Outback and our first real introduction to the Northern Territory’s Red Centre. We weren’t sure what to expect, but when I espied a dingo running behind the car as we drove up, I knew we had arrived.

There’s not much in the Red Centre and Kings Canyon is a major attraction for just about anyone visiting. The Resort is the only lodging for hundreds of kilometers, and they do a great job catering to a wide range of travelers.

My first impression was that of a desert cruise ship. It may seem like an odd analogy, but the resort is so isolated that there develops naturally a real sense of camaraderie amongst the guests. There’s no where else to go, so one might as well talk to the other guests. I love that.

Our room was spectacular. I would never have guessed that the resort is twenty years old because they’ve done a phenomenal job keeping up with the times and maintaining a modern aesthetic. I’m always impressed when hotels do more than they have to. There is no where else to stay, the resort could easily let the whole thing go to pot and they’d still fill rooms, but they haven’t. Instead they’ve created a relaxing and overall very pleasant experience for the guests.

Back to the room, we were in a deluxe spa room, so named for its size (impressive) and a nice Jacuzzi tub overlooking the desert landscape. And while they did offer wifi, it was expensive and slow. Not too surprising I guess for the middle of the desert.

I drove around the property to get a feel for it, and understood where the resort name came from. In addition to our rooms, they also have standard hotel rooms, permanent tents for a hostel-ish experience and campgrounds. The resort really can and does accommodate all budgets. They also have a couple of restaurants and a gas station/mini market.

Under a Desert Moon
Under a Desert Moon

For a more intimate experience, the resort also offers an outdoor dinner under the stars called Under a Desert Moon. Modeled after the Sounds of Silence at Uluru, this is a much more intimate affair with all the trimmings. Elegant tables, great food and plenty of wine all under a huge canopy of stars guarantee the ultimate romantic experience.

I was intrigued by the restaurant though, there was standard indoor seating and family style outdoor tables, with what looked like a stage for a band. When we returned that night, we walked into a fun, festive BBQ with everyone smiling and plenty of music. We ordered from the BBQ, all made to order. I was disappointed to see they were out of the bush meats, but the steak made up for the loss of Emu meat. It was also a little pricey, but as I had come to learn, that’s the norm for Australia. As we waited for the food, the host started engaging with the audience. I always get nervous when they do that and suddenly found great interest in my shoelaces. She chose the guy next to me though, and I was able to breathe again as he tried to play (badly) a didgeridoo.

The food was as great as the atmosphere and everything together made for a really enjoyable evening. When you’re in the middle of a vast, uninhabited desert it’s evenings like that one which make all the difference. It was a lot of fun and when is the last time you could say that about a hotel dinner?

After exploring the famous Kings Canyon the next morning, we bid our farewells and left the Kings Canyon Resort behind us. I was sad to leave after only one night, but thrilled to have had the opportunity to stay there. It was the perfect introduction to our adventure through the Red Centre.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

8 thoughts on “Desert Oasis – Kings Canyon Resort Experience”

  1. Having lived in Alice Springs for 7 years and my partner was a Ranger at Kings Canyon for a few years it is a shame you only got to spend one night there. The walks are amazing, you can have a flash room with a view anywhere but to get out in the bush, see and hear all that goes on is what makes a visit to the centre memorable.

  2. It is just an amazing place, it looks so romantic..and I love the Jacuzzi, well I did not actually tried a real Jacuzzi but I love the spa :-)

  3. Wow – how things change! We stayed at Wallara Ranch in 1987. It was the closest camp to Kings Canyon – 110kms away unless you wanted total bush camping at the Canyon itself. There was a presentation about the canyon in the evening and it was made to sound absolutely terrifying – especially the old bridge and the cave. We set off the next morning and spent 6 hours exploring the canyon. It was one of those experiences I will never forget. What an AMAZING place. I was proud of myself for making it up the climb to start off with, then we had to find our way through the lost city by following a not very well marked trail. The bridge wasn’t terrifying at all. I must admit squeezing through the cave gave me a few nerves as I’m not a small person, but it was worth it to have a lunch in the beautiful, cool Garden of Eden. The only downer was the flat tyre in our Landcruiser when we finally made it back to reality. I would have to say after 40 years of travelling, the day at King’s Canyon is still definitely one of my top ten travel experiences!

    1. What a great story, thanks for sharing Robyn! And yes, it has changed. The tourist process is much more regulated now, which has its pros and cons.You can still camp in the bush and try the trail on your own, but most don’t. Regardless, the natural is still the same – stunning!

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