Blogs from West McDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory, Australia, Oceania


Waking long before dawn on Thursday morning - my eleventh day on the Larapinta Trail - I'd not even gotten out of my tent when a group of guided hikers strode through the campsite sounding like an army battalion marching into battle. With no vehicle access between Serpentine Gorge and Ormiston Gorge 30km away, they would have to knock off that entire distance in one long day. But for those of us that were fully self-sufficient, the opportunity to split the walk in half by spending the night on the crest of the Heavitree Range at a campsite unofficially known as 'Hermit's Hideout' was simply too good to resist... even if it meant having to carry even more water than if we were tackling it in a single day. With a fellow hiker who had just ... read more
Sacred Thoroughfare
Bent and Buckled Rock
The Route Ahead

Having faced unexpected trials and tribulations during my first three days on the Larapinta Trail, it was with a fair degree of trepidation that I rose to greet the day on Thursday (August 12th), knowing that - according to the map guide at least - I was about to face one of the most difficult days on the trail. Still, it also promised to be one of the most spectacular, with the route climbing up and over the Chewings Range before descending to a campsite near a picturesque waterhole. Despite wasting fifteen minutes trying to buy a lip balm from the kiosk at Standley Chasm (the less said about that the better) I managed to get going by 9am, as planned. The fact that each of the three ladies with whom I had been camped had ... read more
Valley Views
The Mountains' Rugged Spine
Touching the Sky

Look at any map of Australia, and your eye will immediately be drawn to a name in the very centre of the continent: Alice Springs. Although only a fairly small town by most standards (population: 30,000) it appears on every map of the country for the simple reason that it is the largest settlement for a very, very long way in any direction. Historically, at least as far as European settlement is concerned, Alice Springs' greatest claim to fame is a telegraph station just a few kilometres to the north of the current town centre, which served as a relay point on the Overland Telegraph Line between Adelaide in the South and Darwin to the North. It is from this telegraph station that one of the most famous and iconic of Australian hiking trails begins: the ... read more
Narrow Gap
Red Rocks and River Red Gums
The Starting Point

.Tjoritja more commonly known as West MacDonnell Ranges is a National Park about two hours (160km) away from Alice Springs. This vast and spectacular area is an outstanding example of the ancient landscape and how over time the climate and other elements have changed it. The family we were staying with decided it would be nice for all of us to spend a Sunday at the West Mac Ranges. After making sure all eight of us had swim wear, towels and there were some fun inflatable toys we left. Laurent, myself and Izzy in one car, the boys with Patrick and Alicja in the other. The first stop was Glen Helen, a budget hotel and campsite in the ranges with a little cafe. Before eating we went to the Glen Helen gorge and swam and played ... read more
Glen Helen
Laurent getting ready to swim
Glen helen

We are back in Alice Springs tonight where winter has suddenly arrived. Apparently it was minus five degrees here this morning. This morning we were still camped out in the Ranges at Ormiston Gorge and though it was certainly one of our coldest nights and mornings yet, I doubt it was as cold as here in Alice. I did go rummaging through my clothes compartment in search of extra warm outer gear and my gloves though … so it must have been chilly. We have a spectacular week exploring gorges, plains, old mission towns and watching the ever changing countryside roll past. Not a lot of kilometers involved which is a bonus. More time to sit and soak up the bush, the birds, the ochre coloured hills and peaks around us, and the lushness of the ... read more
Mt Sonder
Brown Falcon I think ..
Rock art at Wallace Rockhole

From Kings Canyon we headed out along the dirt track (I love a dirt track) towards the West MacDonnell Ranges. Funnily enough I could see a road train coming down the mountain (as she comes...coming round the mountain as she comes...) and I was wondering how it was going to turn out. There was a stop/go person, but not any stop/go person, an Irish female stop/go person. When the road trains come through with supplies they send her ahead to stop the traffic. Along the way we came across a couple of American guys broken down by the side of the road. I personally think it's great that a couple of blokes set out in a Holden Commodore Wagon on a route where we had a Landcruiser, 2 spare tyres, 50 litres of water, an air ... read more
Laparinta Track
Namitjira Drive
Map Day 13

This morning we got up at 5.10am to head out to the Field of Lights which is an art installation put together by a fella called Ben Munro. I love an art installation as much as the next person but it was freezing. Basically this guy has put 50,000 light bulbs which change colour in front of Uluru and apparently Qantas air freighted them all in without breaking one (they are the sponsor so its the least they could do). Bubble wrapping them must have been a bugger though. I have to admit it's pretty spectacular but tough to get photos of. After a quick breakfast we filled up the water and headed to Kings Canyon (the Tigers loss a distant memory). I decided to treat Becs and we stayed at the Kings Canyon Resort and ... read more
Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon Resort

We were a little later leaving than we’d meant to be as I needed to iron a couple of items before we left. Our first stop was Simpson’s Gap, 25km out of Alice along the West Macdonnell Ranges. We parked the car and set off on the walk beside and along the river bed to the Gap. On the way, we passed an area of rocks piled up at the base of the mountain wall. A Ranger was just finishing his talk when we arrived and he pointed out a Black Footed Rock Wallaby, like those we fed at the Heavitree Homestead. It was sunning itself on top of one of the high up rocks but as we watched, decided there was too much activity and took off, hopping easily and quickly across the jagged surface, ... read more
Along the Path to Standley Chasm
Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ellery Gap
Ochre Pits

After the success of the Bay of Fires walk, I was keen for another walking holiday, and after a little bit of research elected the Larapinta Trail as my next challenge. Starting and finishing just out of Alice Springs, I was lured in with memories of beautiful landscapes that I hadn't properly explored in my previous visit, and promises that the Larapinta Trail is "one of Australia's most spectacular trekking and bushwalking experiences". I brushed over the part in the brochure that said "ideal for the more ambitious walker" and didn't properly appreciate what "walking the high ridgelines of the West MacDonnell Range" might really mean. I certainly have no memory of reading that "the Larapinta Trail will delight... read more
Spectacular Serpentine Gorge
Walking the gorgeous Larapinta Trail

Sunday 18 August Well finally the morning that we have planned to hit the road again has arrived, this is weird moving again after 2 whole weeks in the same place. Alice has been lovely, despite our pressures of getting the towbar and the welding sorted out it has been great here but time to go, we both feel the need to get back out of town and back to bush camping. Opening my eyes to welcome the new day in, I heard those words "Happy Anniversary!" For a brief moment I had forgotten it was our 23rd wedding anniversary today, when we got married I don't think I could ever have imagined waking up in Alice Springs on any of our anniversaries let alone the 23rd. Andy is out of bed early, I could hear ... read more
Our Alice Springs Neighbours
Bath time Gypsy
Cleaning behind her ears

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