The Larapinta Trail – Northern Territory

Currently Reading: Andrew O’Hagan – Mayflies | James Clear – Atomic Habits | Sophie Green – The Inaugral Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club

Redbank Gorge

Hello Old Friends,

It has been a long time between visits. I have missed this ol’ blog, but in the spirit of good things coming to those who wait, I have a wonderful treat in store! In July of this year, Laura and I took a month out of our respective lives in Sydney (Laura) and Tassie (me) to hike the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory’s MacDonnell Ranges. I will be detailing our experiences over the coming weeks in a series of Larapinta Trail hiking posts.

Heading East out of Ormiston Gorge

The Larapinta is one of Australia’s premier long distance walking tracks, stretching for 223km through Arrernte Country, west of Alice Springs. The trail was conceived in the 1980s, with the first section opened in 1990, as part of the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park. The completed trail, in its current form, can be hiked in 12 sections, with most taking between 12 and 14 days to complete the entire trail. The current record at the time of writing sits at 54 hours, 23 minutes and 19 seconds, for trail runner Lucy Bartholomew. [Disclaimer: We did not attempt to break any records.]

Our campsite in the sandy creekbed below Arrenge Bluff

You can hike the trail east-to-west or west-to-east, with clear markers in both directions. There are several points of entry along the way, with a range of options with regard to the level of support you desire or require. You can hike the whole trail completely unsupported, sections of the trail over time, or part of the trail with a fully catered tour group. Alternatively you can arrange transfers to and from the start (if hiking west to east) or end of the trail (if hiking east to west) with one of the many local companies that can also arrange food drops along the way. We took the latter option.

Waiting for our ride on the day of departure – we packed waaaaay too much food 😉

Laura and I hiked west to east, partially supported, with Outback Elite Tours dropping us at Redbank Gorge to start our hike, and delivering our food resupply boxes to three pre-arranged locations along the way (more on this in a later post). We carried all our own food and gear between each resupply and camped out for the entirety of our hike. We decided to follow a slightly more relaxed time schedule than most, planning initially for 22 days, but completing 18 days in the end, as we skipped three sections of the trail, from Ellery Creek South to Standley Chasm (Sections 4 through 6).

Ellery Creek Big Hole

The sections of the trail are as follows:

Section 12 – Mt Sonder
Section 11 – Redbank Gorge to Finke River
Section 10 – Finke River to Ormiston Gorge
Section 9 – Ormiston Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam
Section 8 – Serpentine Chalet Dam to Serpentine Gorge
Section 7 – Serpentine Gorge to Ellery Creek South
Section 6 – Ellery Creek South to Hugh Gorge [*did not hike]
Section 5 – Hugh Gorge to Birthday Junction [*did not hike]
Section 4 – Birthday Junction to Standley Chasm [*did not hike]
Section 3 – Standley Chasm to Jay Creek
Section 2 – Jay Creek to Simpsons Gap
Section 1 – Simpsons Gap to Alice Springs Telegraph Station

The Official Trail Maps and Guides

Because we hiked the trail west to east, we started at Section 12 (Mount Sonder – the western terminus), counting down to Section 1 as we approached Alice Springs Telegraph Station (the eastern terminus). In my subsequent posts, which I will label ‘Larapinta Trail – Days 2-3: Section 11’ (for example), the section numbers will count down from 12 to 1, as that is the order in which we hiked them. If you are wanting to use these blog posts as something of a guide, and are hiking the trail from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder – as the majority of hikers do – you might want to read the post labelled ‘Section 1’ first.

Our first campsite

Please reach out if you have any questions about the hike or if you’d like me to go into detail about any particular aspect of the Larapinta in my upcoming posts. I look forward to taking you with me on this journey as I relive it through my photos and journals from the trail!

Booknboot xoxo

Books Completed: Pip Williams – The Dictionary of Lost Words | Sarah Bailey – The Housemate | Jonas Jonasson – The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared | Rachel Kushner – The Mars Room | Evelyn Araluen – Drop Bear | Trent Dalton – Love Stories | Robbie Arnott – The Rain Heron | Kazui Ishiguro – Klara and the Sun

4 thoughts on “The Larapinta Trail – Northern Territory

    • Thanks Wes! Yes, I really have been remiss, but am hoping that the Larapinta write-up will help me kick-start the habit of regular posting again. I hope all is well in Knoxville!

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