This is my review of John and Monica Chapman’s guide book on the Larapinta Trail (2008, 1st edition). First a qualifier; I walked the trail in 2005 with members of the Perth Bushwalkers Club. As part of that walk I was kindly provided with maps by John Chapman and in return provided John with feedback on same. For doing this, John and Monica have kindly provided a copy of their guide book, the same is the subject of this review.
The guide book, Larapinta Trail was published in 2008 by John Chapman. The book is 160 pages printed on good quality paper. It weighs 315 g. Maybe a bit heavy to take on a walk, but a good resource for planning for sure.
The guidebook contents include an introduction to the Trail, background on the Trail, some good safety advice including a discussion of equipment and food requirements, some suggested day walks and shorter pack carries, explanation of walk grades used in the guide (easy, medium, hard and very hard) and the main part of the guide, trip planning. The trip planning section breaks the Trail into 20 sections, which equates to 20 days walking.
Within each section the guide provides a range of useful information. This includes:
- a brief summary of the section providing an overview of the section’s walking;
- access options if available. It should be noted that often these are emergency only or walk-in only access options;
- A call out box, providing a quick summary of key information points for the section:
- Length of section in kilometres
- Suggested walk time in hours
- Track standard – easy, medium, hard or very hard
- Total climbing in metres
- Total descent in metres
- Access options from the east and the west
- Trail notes. The trail notes are written from both an east to west direction and a west to east direction which I feel is really a great approach. At the time of doing my own end-to-end of the Trail we only had notes for walking the Trail from the opposition direction. Having notes covering both directions is a bonus. Each day’s note starts with a distance marker for the distance travelled to this point and a description of the trail to the next significant trail point or landmark. The next trail point or landmark is then delineated by distance and a description to the next and on it goes. For example, from the Section 18 Glen Helen Junction to Rocky Bar Gap, the description from Davenport Creek to Rocky Bar Lookout is described thus:
194.8 km Just upstream of the crossing there is a large, semi-permanent waterhole. Campsites are available on sand near the creek. Cross the sandy bead of Davenport Creek and continue north through light, mulga forest. The trail follows a side creek northwards crossing it several times. Continue for 2.7 km to the foothills then a steep, zig-zagging track leads onto a knoll. The saddle behind has a small campsite. Another steep climb leads onto a crest of the ridge above. Turn left and follow the ridge crest north-west for 800 m to Rocky Bar Lookout (shown on park maps as Hilltop Lookout).
The notes are supported by a coloured topographical map of the section which includes distance markers and a profile of section, again in colour.
Having reviewed the Guidebook, it has brought back fond memories of my 2005 walk of the Trail. I have found the book reflective of what I recall of the various track sections.
It is well written, has good background and supporting information sections, great photographs, the maps are very good and helpful and the profiles scary :). My reading of the Trail descriptions suggest that they are very accurate reflection of what is on the ground.
Based on my experience I would suggest that this is a great resource for planning a walk of the Trail and getting a good feel for it. I know I would have found it useful and probably would have varied our walk of the Trail given the information contained in the guidebook.
I can only strongly recommend the book to those planning the walk or who want a good resource on what they have done.
Well done to John and Monica with the guidebook and thank you for my copy.