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Larapinta Trail End to End Walk Report


Larapinta Trail End to End Walk

Redbank Gorge to Alice Springs Telegraph Station including ascent of Mt Sonder

231.0 km (143 mi)

Completed End to End in July 2005

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Larapinta Trail Trail Marker

Larapinta Trail Trail Marker

These Larapinta Trail track notes are based on my walk of the Larapinta Trail in July 2005 as part of a group of six from the Perth Bushwalkers Club and Adelaide Bushwalkers Club.  Fran, Sheila, Jane, Alan and Ian where the other members of the group.

We walked the Larapinta Trail in a east – west direction, that is we started at Redbank Gorge and walked back to Alice Springs Telegraph Station.  We did this for a number of reasons:

(1) It made arranging and doing the food drops easy (we did them on the way out to Redbank Gorge);

(2) it saved us the hassle of trying to organise a pick-up at the end of the walk;

(3) we walked with the afternoon sun behind us rather than in our eyes and;

(4) I am not sure we would have walked Mt Sonder at the end of it all!

The direction we walked is not the direction favoured by the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission whose trail documentation and signs are written from the perspective of a west-east walk.

Larapinta Trail Walk Notes

With these walk notes:

  • The distance given is the kilometres walked that day.
  • Time taken is time from start to finish on the day including all stops (water, views, morning tea, lunch etc).
  • Park time is the time suggested by the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission and excludes breaks.
  • Facilities refers to facilities at the overnight camp site.
  • Coordinates are the UTM coordinates for the overnight campsite. Easting is given first, followed by the northing.
Day: 0 Alice Springs to Red Bank Gorge Walk Distance: 0 km Time Taken: 5 hours
Facilities: Toilets and water tank, Camp Coordinates: 53K 246961 7390399
Larapinta Trail - Alice Wanderer

Larapinta Trail – Alice Wanderer Trail Transport

We all flew into Alice Springs on the day before the walk and stayed overnight in Alice Springs at Ossie’s Homestead. They where quite helpful, holding the food drop boxes for us and allowing us to leave bags there for pickup on our return.

As we all used gas canister stoves (no fires allowed on the Trail) we also placed an order in advance with Lone Dingo for our canisters. They offered to deliver the order to Ossie’s Homestead in advance if we wished. As it turned out Ian and Sheila flew in earlier in the day and so where able to pick up the canisters for us all.

We used Alice Wanderer to drop us off at Red Bank Gorge, the western trailhead of the Larapinta Trail. They also provided the food drop boxes (left them at Ossie’s Homestead in advance for us) and placed the food drops on our way out to Red Bank Gorge. This was good as we knew where the containers where left.  We found their service most satisfactory. We arrived at Redbank Gorge around 11:30 AM after leaving Alice Springs at approximately 7:30 AM.

Larapinta Trail - Redbank Gorge

Walking out to Redbank Gorge

We took up our first day of the walk, just getting out to Red Bank Gorge, setting up camp and exploring the gorge. We camped in Redbank Creek just below the start of the Larapinta Trail and not far from the water tank. Most of the water tanks have a slow flow tap fitted, which gives the impression of the tanks being low. Took a couple of campsites to get used to this concept!

Redbank Gorge is well worth visiting, being described as a “stunning narrow chasm through glowing red quartzite.” It is an easy walk from the carpark/campsite to the gorge and return (allow an hour).  A nice swimming hole but bloody cold!  If you are lucky you may spot a rock wallaby or two at the gorge.

 

Day: 2 Red Bank Gorge to Mount Sonder and Return Walk Distance: 15.8 km Time Taken: 7.75 hours
Park Time
: 8 hours
Facilities: No facilities on Mount Sonder. Camp Mt Sonder Coordinates: 53K 251661 7389792

 

The Larapinta Trail Walk Team

The Larapinta Trail Walk Team

Section 12: The walk from Red Bank Gorge to Mt Sonder is in my view, a good days walk even in July, where the sun was biting in the afternoon. This is a very exposed walk with no shade. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 16 km return section of the Larapinta Trail as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness.”

The Trail is well marked in the early stages, but once it swings east at the saddle it becomes hard to find at times. A lack of trail markers is notable, however, some blue flagging is used, but often hard to spot. Basically once the Mt Sonder lookout is reached one just follows the ridge before picking up the path to the obelisk on the second peak. This is not truly at 1380 metres as a third peak is to the north-east and higher. That said the peak visited does provide great 360 degree views.

Fran at the Peak of Mt Sondor, Larapinta Trail

Fran at the Peak of Mt Sondor, Larapinta Trail

All up a side-trip well worth doing. We lunched up on Mt Sonder. Camping is not allowed because it is a place of great significance to Aboriginal people.

Red Bank Gorge is accessible by vehicles with high clearance according to the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission.

Red Bank Gorge marks the start of Section 11 of the Larapinta Trail and there is a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 29 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness. Allow two days to comfortably complete this section.”

Day: 3 Red Bank Gorge to Davenport Creek Walk Distance: 21.8 km Time Taken: 8.50 hours
Park Time: 9 hours
Facilities: No facilities at Davenport Creek. Camp Coordinates: 53K 260084 7383499
Larapinta Trail - Fran at Rocky Bar Gap

Larapinta Trail – Fran at Rocky Bar Gap

Section 11 (Redbank Gorge to Glen Helen):  Our first real day of the big adventure.  The temperature overnight in the tent got down to around 4 C so we where keen to get moving in the morning.   We headed off in the morning all guns blazing, all excited about what was to come. I think by the time we hit Davenport Creek our enthusiasm was somewhat tamed! The first leg into Rocky Bar Gap was sweet. A nice easy section below Mt Sonder. Mind you the campsite here is nothing to write home about. We had lunch in the Gap in a nice shady spot.  From here we head off to Davenport Creek loaded up with water for the afternoon, night and next day as there was no water at our planned campsite.

The day was a hot one which combined with a full load of food and water and no shade and a nice spot of hill climbing sort of quickly made us aware of what the Larapinta Trail was really about.  All that said, it was good to make the Davenport Creek and the camping there was great.  On the way to the Davenport Creek there is a climb up to the Rocky Bar Gap Lookout (1010 m) . This turned out to be much harder than we expected.  A lot of zigzagging on the way up, followed by a decent that went pretty much  straight down,  but the views made it all worthwhile.  There is one cleared camping spot at the Rocky Bar Gap Lookout, but nothing else besides the view.

Larapinta Trail - Camping at Davenport Creek

Larapinta Trail – Camping at Davenport Creek

One thing we also learned quickly was at campsites like at Davenport Creek, was that sand pegs would have been very handy as good tent rocks where hard to find!  Something to keep in mind if you plan to camp there. In fact in hindsight I would have used sand pegs throughout the walk.

Day: 3 Davenport Creek to Ormiston Gorge Walk Distance: 13.5 km Time Taken: 5.25 hours
Park Time: 4.5 hours
Facilities: Showers, toilets, water tank, rubbish bins and a shop. Camp Coordinates: 53K 267751 7384628

 

This section of the Larapinta Trail includes a side trip to Glen Helen Resort (1 hour).  The temperature this morning was a chilly 0 C at 7:00 AM encouraging us to move on. This is a fairly easy section with the option of a side trip or walk out to Glen Helen Resort. We chose to keep on heading to Ormiston Gorge bypassing Glen Helen.

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

After the Glen Helen Junction the Larapinta Trail crosses the Finke River. We stopped on the west side of the river for morning tea amongst the trees. This area would make a great camping spot. From the Finke River the Trail is fairly easy walking until the climb to Ormiston Lookout at 720 metres. Nothing here to indicate the lookout, other than the views. We stopped here for lunch before heading on into Ormiston Gorge, our first food drop.

Ormiston Gorge has a small shop (good for ice creams, possibly hot food and that is about it, not a re-supply point) and free showers for walkers!  The shop hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM as at July 2005.  The camping is varied. Some of it is mixed camping with car campers. We managed to locate a few spots away from the cars.

There is also good opportunities for day walking through the Ormiston Pound so well worth considering a rest day here.

The Glen Helen Junction marks the start of Section 10 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 13 km section as “suitable for people of average fitness, used to walking long distances, with some steep ascents.  This section can be completed comfortably in one day.”

Ormiston Gorge then marks the start of Section 9 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 30 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness. Allow two days to comfortably complete this section.”

 

Day: 4 Ormiston Gorge to Waterfall Gorge Walk Distance: 15.8 km Time Taken: Not available
Park Time: 6.5 hours
Facilities: No facilities at Waterfall Gorge Camp Coordinates: 53K 278700 7378300 (estimated)

Our planned day was to load up with our food from the food drop at Ormiston Gorge, climb Heavitree Range and then to descend to our camp at Waterfall Gorge. As Waterfall Gorge had no water we where also carrying two days of water. Well things did not go as planned.

Overnight it started to rain and it was raining when we woke up early in the morning. The rain continued pretty much all day, getting very heavy, very cold, very windy and very misty as we commenced our ascent of Heavitree Range, but I am getting ahead of myself here.

We woke early on Day 4 knowing we had a big days walk with the ascent and descent of Heavitree combined with carrying four days food plus two days water. As it was raining bad when we woke in the dark, we packed as best as we could, all moving down to the bit of shelter at the shop/information centre for breakfast and repacking. Once we where all fed and organised we headed off with some optimism as the rain seemed to be easing and after all this was the Northern Territory in the dry, it will be just a short period of rain, right? Wrong! It continued to rain, getting colder and colder and windier as the morning progressed.  By lunchtime we where partly up the side of Heavitree Range with the rain horizontal in our faces and visibility pretty poor. At this point I was wearing every bit of warm clothing I had including a Polartec 300 and I was still cold! We sought some shelter in the lee of the wind to have some lunch and to assess our options. We decided to try to continue the ascent but quickly realised this was not the way to go. Walking the ridge in these conditions was not ideal. Consultation of the maps, seemed to suggest a possible route along the base of the range to Waterfall Gorge. So we decided to abort at this point our ascent, heading back down to pick-up the alternative route making use of a creek.

Camping Below Heavitree Range

Camping Below Heavitree Range – Larapinta Trail

However, again progress was slow even though the rain had eased. Creek walking Larapinta Trail style isn’t easy. We where all cold and tired and when Fran had a fall, nearly hitting her head we decided to call it a day, back tracking to find a suitable campsite.  Once we did, we managed to get a fire going as the rain had eased off and we camped the night regrouping to tackle again Heavitree Range the next day with the intention of getting through to Serpentine Chalet Dam and back on target.

Day: 5 Waterfall Gorge to Serpentine Chalet Dam Walk Distance: 20.8 km Time Taken: Not available
Park Time: 6 hours
Facilities: Water tank, Camp Coordinates: 53K 278100 7374300 (estimated)

Day 5, a grey overcast morning but at least we where dry! Once we had packed up we made our way back to the Trail at the Base of Hill and commenced the ascent of Heavitree Range. At least we were not carrying so much water today and the weather was more favourable. The ascent and crossing of the ridge to Giles Lookout is quite a reasonable walk, not easy but not extremely hard if the weather is good. The descent however to Waterfall Gorge is a tough one in my opinion.

Waterfall Gorge is, despite its name, dry in the dry and should not be relied upon for water. Camping spots are limited, we only noted cleared ground for about two tents, but others suggest more. Other opportunities in the vicinity are very limited.

Camping at Inarlanga Pass - Larapinta Trail

Camping at Inarlanga Pass – Larapinta Trail

As indicated early, our revised plan was to walk all day to day through to Serpentine Chalet Dam and therefore get back on our schedule. Unfortunately we got to Inarlanga Pass in fading light, so decided  to camp, leaving the crossing of the pass till Day 6. So at the end of Day 5 we where still behind our planned schedule but making up some time.

There is road access to a parking point south of the Serpentine Chalet Dam and there may be four wheel drive access to the Dam itself.

Ochre Pits junction marks the start of Section 8 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 20 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness.  With an early start this section can be completed in one day but it s more leisurely as an overnight walk.”

The Ochre Pits are accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles.

Day: 6 Serpentine Chalet Dam to Serpentine Gorge Walk Distance: 13.4 km Time Taken: 6 hours
Park Time: 6.5 hours
Facilities: Toilets and water pump. Camp Coordinates: 53K 293000 737200 (as advised by Geoscience Australia – Coordinates for the gorge itself).
Heavitree Range - Larapinta Trail

Heavitree Range – Larapinta Trail

Another cold night, it was 0 C at 6:00 AM in the morning!

As we where still behind schedule and having taken about 45 minutes to walk the Inarlanga Pass, we decided to skip the side trip to the Ochre Pits continuing on to Serpentine Chalet Dam and Serpentine Gorge. We did take time out on the ridge to visit Counts Point.  I found this particularly ascent of the Heavitree Range as the hardest for me on the whole walk. This may in part have been due to the previous few days of walking, but I did find the Larapinta Trail was not clear at times so it was often a matter of scrambling over rocks in a general upward movement. There are also a couple of false ridges on this ascent which just add to the pleasure of the climb. All that said the side trip to Counts Point makes it all worthwhile as do the views at the eastern end of the ridge.

Serpentine Gorge Bore Pump - Larapinta Trail

Putting Shiela to work at the Serpentine Gorge Bore Pump – Larapinta Trail

There is plenty of camping space at Serpentine Gorge away from the car park. There is also a storage shed used for food drops and water is via a bore pump (a hand job). Serpentine Gorge is accessible via two wheel drive vehicles.

Serpentine Gorge marks the start of Section 7 of the  Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 14 km section as “suitable for people of average fitness, used to walking long distances, with some steep ascents. This section can be completed comfortably in one day.”

Day: 7 Serpentine Gorge to Ellery Creek Big Hole Walk Distance: 13.8 km Time Taken: 5.25 hours
Park Time: 6.5 hours
Facilities: Toilets and water (waterhole), Camp Coordinates: 53K 0303615 7368797

 

Serpentine Gorge - Larapinta Trail

Serpentine Gorge – Larapinta Trail

Starting to get used to cold mornings … 0 C at 6:30 AM again.  As we hadn’t visited the Serpentine Gorge the day before we took the opportunity this morning before heading on to Ellery Creek Big Hole. The walking was good up to the Trig Point and then it got hard from there due to both a less than ideal alignment and the walking surface (dolomite type of rock – not a nice surface to fall on!).

Trigg Point - Larapinta Trail

Trig Point – Larapinta Trail

We had our second food drop at Ellery Creek Big Hole. Whilst there are toilets here and a few tables, there is no water tank or rubbish bins. Water is sourced from the waterhole. We would recommend filtering the water as the waterhole is used for swimming and washing as well.

We did well here, scoring some treats from a tourist bus and they took out our rubbish!

Camping here is shared with the car campers so can be a bit crowded/noisy. Ellery Creek Big Hole is accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles.

Ellery Creek Big Hole marks the start of Section 6 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 31 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness. Allow two days to comfortably complete this section.”

Day: 8 Ellery Creek Big Hole to Rocky Gully Walk Distance: 15.5 km Time Taken: 5.25 hours
Park Time: 4.5 hours
Facilities: Water tank. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0313358 7371225
Alice Valley - Larapinta Trail

Alice Valley – Larapinta Trail

Awoke again to 0 C at 6:30 AM. The low temperatures where to continue with it being 5 C at lunch at Alice Valley Camp. All up a very good walk today, with the main climb being across the Heavitree Range saddle. Great views to be had from here across the Owen Springs Pastoral Lease towards Alice Valley Camp as the Trail heads towards the Chewings Ranges.

Alice Valley Camp was a bit of disappointment, nothing there other than the creek bed.

We ran into a National Park Ranger at Rocky Gully where he was filling the water tank. We chatted a bit about the recent weather and he indicated that there was a 10% chance of rain that day … guess what it rained that night! Thankfully it had moved on by the next morning.

Plenty of camping space at Rocky Gully. We choose to camp down in the creek as it was a bit more sheltered.

 

Day: 9 Rocky Gully to Hugh Gorge Junction Walk Distance: 19.3 km Time Taken: 7.25 hours
Park Time: 7:00 hours
Facilities: Water (waterholes), Camp Coordinates: 53K 0323829 7380306

 

 

Hugh Gorge - Larapinta Trail

Hugh Gorge – Larapinta Trail

Much warmer wake-up this morning, 10 C at 5:30 AM. Amazing what a difference the rain can make to the temperature. Today was to turn out to be a big days walk. The walk to the Hugh Gorge was pretty straight forward. We took about 4.75 hours to get to Hugh Gorge where we had lunch (one hour). It took us another hour and half to walk the Gorge to the Junction our overnight camping spot.

The Gorge turned out to be a bit of challenge to walk, with a pack lift and climb required part way through Hugh Gorge to get around a waterhole. We also found ourselves frequently switching from one side of the gorge to the other to get a good path through.  Once we set up camp, we back tracked to find a reliable water source within the gorge. Again we just camped in the creek at the Hugh Gorge Junction.

Climbing out of a Waterhole - Hugh Gorge on the Larapinta Trail

Climbing out of a Waterhole – Hugh Gorge on the Larapinta Trail

There is four wheel drive access to Hugh Gorge. It is 22.3 km from the turn-off on Namatijira Drive.

Hugh Gorge marks the start of Section 5 of the Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 16 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness. Allow two days to comfortably complete this section.”

Day: 10 Hugh Gorge Junction to Birthday Waterhole Junction Walk Distance: 11.1 km Time Taken: 8 hours
Park Time: 11.50 hours
Facilities: Water tank at Birthday Waterhole. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0331513 7375840

Back to chilly mornings … 2 C at 5:00 AM. This would turn out to be a big days walk, one where I consumed all my walking water during the day (3 litres) arriving dry at Birthday Waterhole Junction.

Razorback Ridge - Larapinta Trail

From Hugh Gorge Junction the Larapinta Trail ascends across Rocky Saddle down to Razorback Camp (no water or facilities here). Good views to be had at Rocky Saddle. From Razorback Camp the track zigzags its way to Razorback Ridge whose name befits itself. Thankfully the Trail skirts around Paisley Bluff eventually descending down Spencer Gorge (this turned out to be a very hot section), before contouring around a hill and down a creek to Birthday Waterhole Junction. There are really special views to be had all along Razorback Ridge and from Windy Saddle. Even the Rocky Talus is quite interesting.

Descending Spencer Gorge on the Larapinta Trail

Descending Spencer Gorge on the Larapinta Trail

 

All up I would say this was one of the best sections of the Larapinta Trail, even if it was a hard day’s walking and a hot one on the day we took it on.

At Birthday Waterhole Junction there are no facilities. Water has to be obtained from the tank at Birthday Waterhole itself which is a semi-permanent waterhole.

There is also four wheel drive access to Birthday Waterhole via a 14.4 km track from Namatijira Drive.

Birthday Waterhole marks the start of Section 4 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 14 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness. Allow two days to comfortably complete this section.”

The End of the Day at Birthday Waterhole on the Larapinta Trail

The End of the Day at Birthday Waterhole Junction on the Larapinta Trail

Day: 11 Birthday Waterhole Junction to Standley Chasm Walk Distance: 17.4 km Time Taken: 9 hours
Park Time: 11 hours
Facilities: Toilets, spring water, shop, public phone. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0344055 7375730

Awoke at 5:00 AM to the now normal chilly morning, 2 C and what was to become another big days walk. This was sort of expected as we where climbing Brinkley Bluff today, the highest point on the Larapinta Trail and the only place to have its own helicopter emergency landing pad!

Brinkley Bluff Summit - Larapinta Trail

Brinkley Bluff Summit – Larapinta Trail

 

The Trail starts off very nicely, passing Mintbush Spring (we gave this a miss due to a dead cow) as it meanders along to the creek out of Stuart’s Pass. Another possible camping spot. From the creek, the ascent of Brinkley Bluff commences. The Larapinta Trail ascends relatively easily to a saddle, where it then descends to the top of a waterfall, before climbing the waterfall’s feeder creek and then zigzagging up Brinkley Bluff itself. This later section was by far the hairiest part of the whole Larapinta Trail in my view, with very limited footings at times.  All that hard work however is rewarded with magnificent views from Brinkley Bluff, a cairn and a register to record one’s visit.  There are camping points up on the Bluff but there are no trees or shelter from the wind, which was blowing a gale when we where there.  Not pleasant camping at all. Plus it would be necessary to pack in water.

From Brinkley Bluff the Larapinta Trail follows the ridge of Chewings Range for some time crossing the Reveal Saddle and passing Bridle Path Lookout before eventually descending down another gorge (creek) and out to Standley Chasm.

Standley Chasm is the second place of luxury on the Larapinta Trail. Not only did we pick-up our final food drop here, there is a shop here selling food (you know health food like pies and burgers :)), a public phone, spring water and an ablutions block, but no showers. Camping is allowed on a grassed area after 5:00 PM but all tents have to be down by 8:00 AM the next morning.  As Standley Chasm is a business operation there is an entry and camping fee of $10.00 (July 2005) as well as normal vehicle access.

Standley Chasm marks the start of Section 3 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 14 km section as “suitable for well-prepared and experienced walkers with a good level fitness. With an early start, this section can be completed in one day.”

 

Day: 12 Standley Chasm to Jay Creek Walk Distance: 14.1 km Time Taken: 7.5 hours
Park Time: 5.00 hours
Facilities: Water tank, pack table, fireplace. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0350950 7382137
Descending from behind Standley Chasm to Angkale Junction - Larapinta Trail

Alan descending from behind Standley Chasm to Angkale Junction – Larapinta Trail

No temperature readings this morning. My thermometer departed to greener pastures (or a rocky creek) the previous day.  We where a bit slow getting away this morning, leaving Standley Chasm at 9:15 AM after diverting to the Standley Chasm itself.  Whilst it is a serious climb out of Standley Chasm and then down to Angkale Junction and back up again to Gastroloblum Saddle and then down again passing through Refuge Spring and Fig Spring to Millers Flat, it is a very spectacular section of the Larapinta Trail. A section where the walker wins hands down over the tourist. The descent from Gastroloblum Saddle to Millers Flat was a bit tricky with plenty of scrambling down mini waterfalls and the like.

The Low Road or the High Road - Larapinta Trail

The Low Road or the High Road – Larapinta Trail

At Millers Flat there are two options, the ridge route via Lorettas Lookout (1150 metres) or the Lower Route via a rocky creek and another creek and then an unnamed saddle. Both routes rejoin the main Trail at Tangentyere Junction. Whilst in our planning back in Perth we settled on taking the Ridge Route, on the day we opted for the Lower Route, which actually turned out to be not that easy anyway!

From Tangentyere Junction the Larapinta Trail meanders along (good opportunity to pick-up some time) to Fish Hole. Fish Hole was again one of those magic spots along the Larapinta Trail. At Fish Hole the Larapinta Trail ascends around the waterhole before dropping back down into the creek for the final kilometre or two to the campsite at Jay Creek.

Camping at Jay Creek on the Larapinta Trail

Camping at Jay Creek on the Larapinta Trail

There is plenty of camping spots at Jay Creek along with four wheel drive access from Hamilton Downs Youth Camp.

Jay Creek marks the start of Section 2 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 25 km section as “suitable for people of average fitness, used to walking long distances, with some steep ascents. With an early start, this section can be completed in one day but is more leisurely as an overnight walk.”

 

Day: 13 Jay Creek to Mulga Camp Walk Distance: 10.8 km Time Taken: 4 hours
Park Time: 3 hours
Facilities: Toilets, water tank and picnic tables. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0359222 7381949
Spring Gap - Larapinta Trail

Spring Gap – Larapinta Trail

No temperature reading, but it was a cold night/morning. We awoke to ice on the tents. The first and only night to have this happen! As this is an easy day’s walk we took our time leaving this morning with myself and Fran being the last to get away at 10:00 AM. So slack after our normal early morning starts! The walk is pretty easy but flat with the Larapinta Trail staying north of Chewings Range until Spring Gap where it cuts through the range to the southern side until Mulga Camp.

Spring Gap is a quite a pleasant interlude on this section and a good lunch spot.

Mulga Camp - Larapinta Trail

Mulga Camp – Larapinta Trail

Mulga Camp reflects its closeness to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station trailhead as it has its own toilet, picnic tables plus two water tanks. A pleasant camping spot but nothing special. It can be accessed via a management track (4WD).

 

Day: 14 Mulga Camp to Simpsons Gap Walk Distance: 13.7 km Time Taken: 4.75 hours
Park Time: 4.5 hours
Facilities: Flushing toilets, water tank, rubbish bins and picnic tables. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0369335 7380694

From Mulga Camp the Larapinta Trail pretty much keeps to the low lands passing south of Arenge Bluff. The highlight of this section of the Larapinta Trail is Bond Gap. Well worth taking the side trip. Other than this side trip and coming across our first bridge across a creek (such luxury) the walk into Simpsons Gap was uneventful.

The Bridge - Larapinta Trail

The Bridge – Larapinta Trail

Simpsons Gap however is another story. The Larapinta Trail designated camping spot, to put it politely, should be avoided. We took one look at it and moved on to camp in Roe creek on the other side of the road into Simpsons Gap. The designated campsite is rocky and lacks shade. We noted other similar comments in the Larapinta Trails register here so hopefully the Parks people will take a look at it.

Simpsons Gap - Larapinta Trail

Simpsons Gap – Larapinta Trail

Simpsons Gap offers toilets and water at the picnic area but no camping in this area. It also is visited by lots, read lots of tourist coaches and they start early in the morning! This combined with the aircraft which at times seemed to be flying right through Simpsons Gap, made this a great spot to miss. The aircraft started coming through on a regular basis at about 2:00 AM!

Simpsons Gap marks the beginning of Section 1 of the Larapinta Trail and has a register here for signing. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission describe this 24 km section as “suitable for people of average fitness, used to walking long distances, with some steep ascents. With an early start, this section can be completed in one day but is more leisurely as an overnight walk.”

 

Day: 15 Simpsons Gap to Wallaby Gap Walk Distance: 10.2 km Time Taken: 3.5 hours
Park Time: 4.0 hours
Facilities: Toilets, pack table, gas barbecue and water tank. Camp Coordinates: 53K 0377137 7381988

Another easy day’s walking, with a pleasant and interesting climb up and over Hat Hill Saddle and then contouring along the side of Rungutjirba Ridge with its cliff faces. From there the Larapinta Trail drops down to the flat lands passing Fairy Spring and Scorpion Pool. Both side trips worth doing. Not long after Scorpion Pool the campsite at Wallaby Gap is reached.

Wallaby Gap - Larapinta Trail

Wallaby Gap – Larapinta Trail

Wallaby Gap itself is a short side trip north of the campsite. Again a rather bland campsite, albeit with some additional facilities such as a gas barbecue which was working when we visited.

There is four wheel drive access to the campsite via a management track.

 

Day: 16 Wallaby Gap to Alice Springs Telegraph Station Walk Distance: 13.5 km Time Taken: 4.25 hours
Park Time: 5.00 hours
Facilities: Toilets, shop, Camp Coordinates: 53K 387000 7382000

 

Wallaby Gap was the last campsite on the Larapinta Trail for us. From Wallaby Gap the Larapinta Trail ascends to Euro Ridge where one gets their first views of Alice Springs. From Euro Ridge the Larapinta Trail stays relatively high crossing the mountain bike trail and eventually the Central Australian Railway line. From the line it climbs up a ridge before again dropping down to cross under the Geoff Morris Bridge on the Stuart Highway. It becomes very evident that the Larapinta Trail is coming to an end near civilisation at this point.

Euro Ridge to Alice Springs - Larapinta Trail

Alice Springs Beckons from Euro Ridge – Larapinta Trail

From the bridge the Larapinta Trail is nothing special, the only highlight being the Trig Point near the

Aushiker @ Larapinta Trail - Alice Springs Telegraph Station

Aushiker @ Larapinta Trail – Alice Springs Telegraph Station

, which acts like a guiding beacon drawing us to the finish of the walk.

At the Telegraph Station there is a small tourist shop selling ice creams and the like. They will also call a taxi if one does not wish to walk into Alice Springs itself (costs about $10.00 – July 2005).

And here ends our journey on the Larapinta Trail.

 

Larapinta Trail Photos

A full set of photos from our walk of the Larapinta Trail can be found in my Picasa Web album.

 

Larapinta Trail Resources

Our walk itinerary is available for download as a Microsoft Excel file or as a PDF document. The camp coordinates are also available as a GPS Exchange (*.gpx) file, a OziExplorer waypoint file and for Google Earth fans as a Google Earth *.kmz file.

Our walk of the Larapinta Trail was assisted by the use of draft 1:50 000 coloured maps provided by John Chapman. These maps will be published in John’s forthcoming book on the trail.

The NATMAP 1:250 000 topographical maps, Hermannsburg and Alice Springs also show the Trail.

28 Responses to Larapinta Trail End to End Walk Report

  1. jaymz December 27, 2009 at 11:06 PM #

    according to Telstra, CDMA has been closed down. Use GSM or Next-G or 3G

  2. Aushiker December 28, 2009 at 8:24 AM #

    Hi

    Good catch. I wrote this report in 2005 and just transferred it over here to the blog yesterday. I forgot about CDMA being culled. Will edit out the references. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Andrew

  3. Dave M January 18, 2010 at 5:41 AM #

    Have just read this good info. Am looking to do walk next year any more tips. Am a uk based walker

  4. Aushiker January 18, 2010 at 8:13 PM #

    Hi Dave. Just keep in mind you are walking in the middle of Australia. Mid-year is the best time, it is the dry (limited water) and even though it is cold at night, it can be hot during the day. I consumed up to three to four litres of water some days.

    Andrew

  5. Greg Neill April 25, 2010 at 7:18 PM #

    Do you know the brand/type of orange tent that has a lift up side in your photos of the Larapinta walk? I mostly camp under a fly and like the look of that design. Just needs a mozzie net, perfect for the tropics.

    I will be doing Standely Chasm to Redbank/Mt Sonder in late May.

    Thank you

    GReg

  6. Aushiker April 26, 2010 at 7:34 PM #

    Hi Greg

    The tent is an MSR Missing Link. Looking at their website, it would seem they no longer make it.

    Regards
    Andrew

  7. Michaela July 6, 2010 at 7:20 PM #

    Hi, I am planning to walk from Hugh Gorge to Alice Springs in August. I have had a lot of difficulty in finding anyone who will provide tranport to Hugh Gorge or Birthday waterhole due to the roughness of the road. If they do provide transport, it is to the road junction and they charge about $150 per person. Can you recommend any transfer companies or hostels etc that might help me out. If I can’t get transport into Hugh Gorge or Birthday water hole (22.3, 14.4km from the main road respectively) I expect I shall walk into birthday water hole from the main road…assuming i get get there without paying an arm and a leg!!! I’ll need those for walking.

    Thanks!,
    Michaela

  8. Sandra February 4, 2012 at 4:01 PM #

    Thanks for your detailed blog on the Larapinta Trail. I’m just starting my research now and this was really helpful. Love your pics 🙂

    • Aushiker February 4, 2012 at 4:07 PM #

      Thanks for the feedback. Are you planning to walk the whole of the Larapinta Trail or just part of it? When are you thinking of walking it? Every time I look at these pages I think I would love to go back and walk at least some of it. I guess the pain dulls after awhile 🙂

      • Sandra February 4, 2012 at 4:16 PM #

        Available time will be the determining factor in terms of how much of the Trail I can tackle. At this time, I’m thinking about either a 7 or 9 day taster, though I’d really love to do the end-to-end hike. I think July or August would be the best time to do it. What time of year do you think is best? I’m not scared of a bit of chill overnight but I’m scared of really hot days 🙂

        • Aushiker February 4, 2012 at 6:06 PM #

          Seven to nine day taster sounds pretty good. As to the month, I am not sure what August is like as we walked in July. In July we got cold nights (ice some mornings) and the day time temperature was generally okay. It tended to get cold (windy) on the ridges when we stopped and warm in the gorges. Nothing to bad but.

          All the best with the walk.

  9. Kat May 11, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

    What a great page! Looks like such an amazing trip. I am somewhat interested in doing this walk but can’t seem to convince any of my friends that walking 200 + kms is a good idea… Do you think it would be relatively safe track to do on your own? Are the tracks marked out well? Have looked at tours but with prices in excess of $3k seems excessive, and loss of satisfaction about surviving with what you carry. Would appreciate any advice you have too! Looking at doing in Sept/Oct if everything comes together. Thanks for such a great insight into an amazing looking walk.
    Cheers

  10. Aushiker May 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM #

    Thanks Kat for your comments. In the dry season, when there are reasonable number of walkers on the Larapinta Trail I would have no issues walking it solo and in fact came across one or two people doing that.

    If you have concerns it might be wroth considering taking along a Spot Messenger or similar so that friends can track your progress and you can call for help if needed.

    When we walked it the track was pretty well marked bar a couple of sections. Of course on ridges there is often no track, but it is pretty clear where you have to walk 🙂

    I think you should do it 🙂

  11. Terry Cornall May 25, 2012 at 10:42 AM #

    Have you got the comments about West/East v East/West wrong? I thought Redbank gorge where you started is to the West of Alice, but you indicate that you walked East-West at the start of your story.

    • Aushiker May 28, 2012 at 9:26 PM #

      Thanks Terry for picking up the typo. Now fixed.

  12. Chris July 27, 2013 at 2:16 PM #

    Good notes! Thanks for putting them up, helped with planning my own walk.

    • Andrew Priest July 29, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

      Great to hear they are of use. Would love to hear how your walk goes.

  13. Winfried December 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM #

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the page. Heading off to walk west to east at the start of May. Looking at 13 or 14 days for the end to end. It’s a little bit faster than yours, but I am on my own – not much else to do in a day but walk ;).

    • Aushiker December 31, 2013 at 6:46 PM #

      All the best with the walk. Please do update us on how it went when you return. Would love to get back there sometime.

  14. Marty March 28, 2014 at 5:53 AM #

    I’m a slow and cautious person at descending but great at ascending. Any tip?

  15. Trina April 2, 2014 at 7:39 AM #

    This is a really useful page and is helping us plan a Larapinta trip in July this year. Just wondering if you could share what sort of food you put in each of the food drop locations? Given the potential for high temperatures inside the storage sheds, and the amount of time food might be in there, I’m concerned about how it might keep. Any insights would be gratefully appreciated. Trina 🙂

    • Aushiker April 2, 2014 at 7:59 AM #

      Thanks Trina. We stuck to pretty much standard bushwalking fare … dried foods such as porridge, pasta, rice plus tuna and the like in satchels. One thing we did leave in the last food drops was oranges. They went off … whoops!

      Oh chocolate didn’t do well either. Otherwise pretty much everything else was okay.

      Hope that helps.

      • Trina April 4, 2014 at 4:37 AM #

        Thanks! I would love to put chocolate in but had thought it might not fare well against the heat. Did you also stick in any energy bars, protein bars or energy gels? I’ll be sure to leave the oranges out too 🙂

        • Aushiker April 5, 2014 at 10:05 PM #

          Differently no protein or energy gels and I doubt I would have carried energy bars. At most it would have been cereal style of bars only. Nothing high tec then 🙂

  16. quirkycharm June 20, 2015 at 12:05 PM #

    Thank you for this detailed report of the trail. I am currently working out of Alice Springs as a tour guide and the LT will hopefully be part of my guiding future so, on the rare days off, I try to explore it. To see the opinions of regular walkers is very valuable.

    • Aushiker June 21, 2015 at 9:52 AM #

      Thanks for the feedback have fun exploring the area. I am jealous 🙂

  17. Anthony August 20, 2015 at 6:12 AM #

    great insight to what will be a great walk. thanks for your report.

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