Northern Territory 2019 Trip Report - Larapinta Trail
I had a little too much city in me...
I could feel it, tightening my neck muscles and loosening my character.
So I booked a trip with Women Want Adventure on the Larapinta Trail. I’d never heard of it before, but it looked remote and that was the hook for me. I’m not fit enough to do it on my own. While some of my friends are at the more extreme fit level, other friends are not as adventurous as I am. So I found a company to make it achievable for me.
Fly nets were needed!
The Larapinta trail is arduous and relentless. I’m rarely speechless but I was often on this trip! The views are spectacular. But also those bloody hills are also hard core!
We did 5 days of the trail- Sections 1, 10, 11 and 12. There are a total of 12 Sections, potentially taking 12- 16 days to complete 223kms. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larapinta_Trail
If you want to do an unsupported trip (not with a guide) you need to do some serious planning. There is very little support out on the trail, though people will help if you are in trouble I believe. There are water tanks (treatment required) and USB charging ports. These are maintained by National Parks, but they are a fair way apart, 15-20kms. There are companies who do pick-ups/drop-off/food drops for a fee.
You can find detailed information on a quality FB page called Larapinta Trail. There are loads of tips and tricks people share plus local information on the condition of the trail, water supplies and fire issues. Very helpful if you are planning to do an unsupported trip! You’d have to consider the following gear and its weight if you want to do it unguided:
- Sleeping Bag -5c
- 3-4L carrying capacity
- Hiking boots & spare sneakers
- Food and food drops
- Three season tent
- Cooking set up
- Water purification set
- Emergency first aid and training
- Thermal sleeping sheet
- Quality insulated sleep mat
- Phone power banks
- Food drops
- Warm/cool clothes
- Emergency beacon
- Good quaility walking poles
Women Want Adventure (WWA)
To be clear from the start, I have no affiliation with either of the companies I went with. But I do admire their philosophy and tenacity. WWA’s pioneer and owner Monique Farmer is creating such a great community for women to get amongst the harder stuff, but with an inclusive and positive vibe. She’s a peaceful and energetic leader, self-assured and authentic. - www.womenwantadventure.com.au
We slept in swags, which we were responsible for setting up each night and getting back on the truck in the early morning. Surprisingly comfortable! Each night, the fat wichetty grub (me) would wiggle down in my leaf (the swag) and absorb the millions of stars and a crescent moon. Sometimes I would wake up and have no idea what was going on but good old Mr. Moon was looking over me. So I would drift back to sleep peacefully. Was a great way to rebalance myself and calm my fractured city spirit.
Each morning the guides were up before us to cook a hot breakfast. The first morning I woke up to the smell of toast and I thought “who the hell is making toast in the middle of the night! Crazy people”. Then I realised I had crashed out and it was 6am already. Each day one of the four WWA guides moved the 4WD truck and camp to the next location, where hot meals were ready and a fire blazing.
Hot, tasty and plentiful meals were provided with plenty of vego options. Amazing desserts were on offer, as was tea/coffee/juice several times a day.
Even in the middle of a hike a hot thermos was produced for a cuppa as we looked over the McDonald ranges. Cheese, biscuits, cakes, fruit and nuts; you name it, we ate it! And with the most incredible views. Wine was offered with dinner each night and as much laughter as you could handle!
These included 2-3L of water, medications, morning tea, lunch, protective equipment- such as a wind breaker, down jacket and fly net. The weather can change quickly from cold to rather warm even in winter. Most nights were 0-2 degrees and days 20-22 degrees.
It’s remote, so there’s plenty to be aware of-
All year round- exhaustion, blisters, rashes
In warmer weather, snakes and hyperthermia
Spinifex! Imagine spears imitating grass. Nasty stuff if you fall or sit on it
Hypothermia is real; you need to layer up with thermals and down jackets
The trail is closed during the hotter months. You would probably croak it if you tried it then
There are dingoes, but no issues with them as long as you protect your food supplies sensibly
Don’t mention the flies! So so many flies!
THE LARAPINTA TRIP:
Day 1 (Section 1)
Telegraph station->Wallaby gap 14kms. A total of 790 meters elevation to Euroridge. There were toilets at the end. Difficulty- medium. We saw lovely Wedge Tail Eagles and spirited Rock Wallaby’s. The key highlight for me was walking along an incredible ridge line with a deadly drop off.
Ride line with deadly drop off photo:
Day 2 (Section 10)
Ormiston Gorge->Glen Helen 16 km with an elevation of 720 meters to the hilltop lookout for lunch. The flies were feral- a net is a must! Toilets are available at Fink river. Difficulty- Medium. Swam in the gorge, which was very cold but amazing! There’s a great bar at Glen Helen with food and some supplies. Flush toilets and showers. Camping/Caravans only. Water and electricity available.
Day 3 (Section 10)
Glen Helen->Davenport creek 19kms elevation of 1000 meters to hilltop lookout. Difficulty- very hard. Great views. Rocky and rubbly++ This is one part you definitely need hiking poles. Camping in the creek bed was very peaceful and remote. The creeks are just sand. The waterways are called “upside down” in this area. You can dig down only 15cm and find wet sand. No real chance of flooding according to the guides. Drop toilet 1 km away.
Hard core hiking means serious eating!
Day 4 (Section 12)
Davenport creek->Redbank creek. 13.6km and mostly flat and winding. Difficulty- easy. Lovely gorge 1.2 km away at the end of the day- very rugged access but some great rock wallaby’s. Camp in river bed. Drop toilet and water tank.
Day 5 (Section 12)
Redbank creek to Mt Sonder
16kms with an elevation of 1390meters and an 8 hours return You can go half way for good sunrise views though. Difficulty-very hard! But equally rewarding!
People with a common thread
There are lots of different types of people on the trail, but we all seemed to have a common thread. Often we saw no one at all, except a solo hiker with a full pack! Some people do sections of it and come back finish it the following year. What I did notice is the happiness in our WWA group, particularly the support, laughing and kindness.
Also impressive was the organised nature and quite leadership of our guides. Nothing was ever a trouble and they were authentic and knowledgeable. They genuinely loved being out there. They helped us be brave and feel safe in a very rugged environment. Their depth of knowledge about the area and a real respect for the earth and indigenous culture was brilliant.
Thank you to Monique, Sue, Claire and Liv for a life changing experience. Just what I needed!
Made so many awesome friends!
Written by PJ Lyndon-James