Larapinta Trail End To End - Alice Springs to Brinkley Bluff

Published: February 2nd 2022
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Larapinta TrailLarapinta TrailLarapinta Trail

This shot sums it all up- the colour, the topography and the terrain- a taste of things to come
Larapinta Trail 21 (>225km)

Part 1- Pre-departure to Alice Springs to Brinkley Bluff

The Larapinta Trek exceeded any expectations, not sure what I actually expected beyond it being wide and vast and a “moderate-difficult” graded trail, but it was that and so much more. I finished on the 6th July, it has kept me feeling very high for the last week or so of travelling around the Red Centre. Now that I am back home here is how it all went down....

As usual I was very well prepared on the logistics, not so much on the training. Excellent spreadsheet. Flew into Alice Springs for 2 nights pre-trek to get my resupply boxes and a few fresh food items as well as having a look around. Stayed at a functional, budget, but well located, motel. The fly screen door looked to have been forced in the past-lots of screwdriver or crowbar wrenching marks- eek. High security around the property and carpark (the town is renowned for its high crime rate). High security in the supermarkets/ bottle shops (ID required to check you aren’t on the problem drinker register or aren’t going to on-sell it. Spray deodorant
Day 1Day 1Day 1

Trail Head, ready for this big adventure over the next 16 days
behind locked cabinets and the fuel is all low vapour (so it can’t be sniffed). Pretty sad stuff. I used a trail support service (LTTS) to give me access to 3 containers and food drops and a pick up at the end to get me back to AS. Got my boxes packed with the food I’d dehydrated/prepped at home and added some fresh stuff-wraps, tomatoes, carrots, fruit, cheese, etc. The motel stored my bags while I headed off (after a big breakfast and excellent coffee from one of the v good little quirky cafes). There are 12 actual sections/trail heads with shelters, drop toilets and water tanks as well as a few other scattered lesser equipped camp spots with drop toilets and water tanks. You can also free camp where ever you’d like (within local custodian wishes) as long as you are prepared to carry extra water for those days. I had a basic plan for 15.5 days but had decided to be flexible as opportunity arose.

I decided on a shortish 1st day to ease in and so that I didn’t have to carry too much water. Luckily I did, that first day was hot! I regretted my
big breakfast and not training more. I regretted not starting early in the morning. The first 2 big hills were hard work (really hard), I also had to walk an unscheduled 5 km the first day as I walked from the motel in town , not the actual start trailhead at Telegraph Station. I also lost my LUCI light (at the cafe at Telegraph) so had to go back and get it (another plus 3km). First day- 20km-ish, not 12 as planned.First camp site was nice - no shelter, just deserted bush tent sites. Saw no-one for entire day after Telegraph - excellent. Walked over the Ghan railway tracks- cool. Non-predicted Situation #1- Went to make coffee after wandering to the waterhole to spot wallabies and pitching tent- no coffee/tea/powdered milk!!!! Clearly I had put that into a resupply box and not my pack- I was a bit devastated to say the least. I did have 4G reception so put out an SOS - so very fortunate that a (local) girl said she’d drop me some supplies the next day out at the next campsite!!! She happened to be a friend of a friend in Perth that I went to
high school with. Soooo lucky. Meanwhile - I recycled a tea bag from lunch to get me started the next morning.

My rendezvous went off without a hitch- Fiona rescued my caffeine addiction and took a few items off my hands that I managed to cull after just 1 night. Had a big 2nd day- not on my original planner. As I had got in early to Simpsons Gap to meet Fiona I decided to keep going (fueled by Fiona's coffee, banana and oranges!!!) and ended up in a river bed for the night. I’ve always understood that you shouldn’t camp in river beds but here they need deluges and several days rain for water to get going. I pitched as it was getting dark and within half an hour the rain started. It rained steadily all night but the tent did OK- no leaks!

The next couple of days had various challenging sections- I was enveloped in low cloud and wind for a few hours but no significant rain (lucky as I didn't take my goretex rain jacket) which morphed into a sunny afternoon. Explored the nearby water hole and took about 10000 pics of a warm
Blue SkyBlue SkyBlue Sky

Flat and dry to start with. Passed over the railway tracks for The Ghan
reflection on canyon wall rock and a rising moon- breathtaking. Slept in the shelter (open, 3 sided but with a cupboard to store food (dingo proof) that also had solar charging USB ports!) that night. Freezing night, about 1C. Big full moon. Shared with a group of 3 friends (one coughing a lot) and 2 solos.

Next day quite a challenge- a choice of high route or low route- not surprisingly I took the amazing high route- stellar views. Hard steady climbing but so stunning. Walked over long ridges. Lots of rocks. Really enjoyable. Got my rhythm. No signs of anyone all day- perfect. Coming down headed into a long canyon. Non-predicted Situation #2- map said "when you reach massive impassable boulder blocking canyon path, stay to the right of the canyon and climb up the furthest boulder for 5 metres before traversing a ledge into a notch cut by the creek"- I couldn’t see a traversing route, a single notch, or anything like that so ended up climbing about 10m to the top of the boulder , over a dry waterfall and cross country downhill to get back on track- not overly smart when you’re on your own with a big pack!! Anyway- it was fine! HUGE afternoon of climbs and descents and medium boulder scrambling into a place called Standley Chasm- unbelievably beautiful. This is where I got my first food drop. It’s an indigenous owned area and runs as a commercial campground plus cafe. Met a few hikers and exchanged stories, indulged in a bacon and egg sandwich and 2 real coffees, left some of my excess food in the hiker box, had a long shower, hair wash and clothes wash, etc. Got my clothes dried by a communal campfire (yet another scorch mark to my trusty hiking pants). Nice to have the shower but definitely ready for more hiking the next day.

A high point of the trail was ahead of me on Day 5- Brinkley Bluff, I LOVED it, switchback climb, stellar views and my first dry camp so double water. Heavy pack! Resupply plus the water. Blowing a gale all night and freezing but just insanely gorgeous sunset and sunrise. It remained a major highlight of the trek. Stay tuned for Part 2 (it'll get progressively more condensed)...

Additional photos below
Photos: 68, Displayed: 26


Wallaby Gap Tent Site. Wallaby Gap Tent Site.
Wallaby Gap Tent Site.

Deserted. Not a wallaby to be seen.
Ready for Day 2Ready for Day 2
Ready for Day 2

Great sleep, still no wallabies

Simpsons Gap Larapinta ShelterSimpsons Gap Larapinta Shelter
Simpsons Gap Larapinta Shelter

3 sided, adjustable windows and deep shade. Also big cupboards, solar battery USB charging facilities and shelving for cooking and storing

Night 2Night 2
Night 2

In the creek bed, a first for me

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