Snaking through the West MacDonnell Ranges, the Larapinta Trail gives walkers a gorge-to-ridge experience of this magnificent Central Australian landscape.

Story & photos by Andrew Bain

In the West MacDonnell Ranges it is not the rivers that meander, it is the Larapinta Trail. Here, the waterways run through the mountains – not between them – creating the gorges that so characterise the ranges. In their place, one of Australia’s newest long-distance walking trails winds like a king brown, stretching from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Mount Sonder, the West MacDonnells’ most striking peak. By vehicle the same journey covers little more than 150 kilometres; on foot it extends for 223km. It is this twisting course, however, that helps make the Larapinta Trail such an outstanding trek, for it has been designed to take in almost every place of interest along the ranges, both famed and obscure.
Fifteen years in the making, the idea for such a trail was first mooted in 1987. Two years later, its first section out of Alice Springs was begun. By the time of the trail’s completion in 2002, it contained 12 sections, each between 13km and 31km in length. All represented a day or two of walking, and each one seemed intent on showing off hidden mountain wonders.

This story excerpt is from Issue #44

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2006