What is the history of Watarrka National Park?

What is the history of Watarrka National Park?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 11/20/2023

Reading time: 3 mins

Watarrka National Park has some of the most beautiful scenic landscapes in Australia’s Red Centre.

For over 20,000 years, the Traditional Owners have lived in Watarrka. The Luritja and Arrente people have always been the Traditional Owners of the land.

In 1872, Ernest Giles was the first European explorer to discover and see the Watarrka region. Almost 90 years later in 1961, Jack Cotterill built the first European home in the area. Jack also made the Wallara Ranch and had done tours through the region, allowing travellers to stay at the ranch.

How big is the national park?

The park is over 1000 kilometres square in the Northern Territory, about a three hour drive from Uluru. The park is in a protected area in the Red Centre which has some impressive landscapes. You’d be surprised to see rock holes, gorges, and rugged ranges, all in the middle of Australia!

What can I do?

Watarrka National Park is a picturesque area where thousands of visitors come by yearly to explore.

Rock art

There are rock art sites within the national park by the Luritja and Arrentre people. The rock art includes paintings, drawings, and some carvings that are thought to be thousands of years old.

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon is the most popular attraction in Watarrka National Park. Kings Canyon has sandstone walls that are 300 metres high and great views across the red desert.

The Garden of Eden is not what you’d expect to see in the middle of the Red Centre. The garden consists of a rock hole with rare plants surrounding the water.

The Lost City has heaps of red sand dunes. These dunes were created by water and wind erosion over thousands of years.

Priscilla’s Crack only received a name and became well known when it was in the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert in 1994. Priscilla’s crack is two rocks that sit close together with a narrow gap between them.

There is also the six kilometre Kings Canyon Rim walk which takes around three to four hours to complete. It’s best to do this walk earlier in the morning before it gets too hot. During your walking journey, you’ll see all these highlights like the Garden of Eden, the Lost City, and Prisicilla’s Crack.

Spot wildlife

There are different types of species found in Watarrka National Park. You can expect to maybe find a few different kinds of frogs to be spotted like the Centralian green frog or the desert tree frog.

Lizards are also found in the national park like the long nosed dragon or the ring tailed dragon.

Other sought after animals to spot are dingoes, rock wallabies, and various birds.

Come see Watarrka National Park yourself on a three day tour! The tour will take you through to see Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, and so much more through the Red Centre. This is a once in a lifetime trip that you don’t want to miss!

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.