Setting one foot in front of the other, my boots hit the rocky path in perfect rhythm. The trance-like momentum helps carry me forward, across loose scree, over large boulders and up steep inclines. My eyes constantly scan the scattered rocks and boulders for signs of fossils buried in the billion-year-old rock. Every few minutes I remember to look up for fear of missing something new in this ancient landscape, and wonder how I got so lucky to be doing this for work.
Looking over Serpentine Gorge from Counts Point Lookout.
Our Larapinta trail tour runs every week for four months of the year, so to be able to relay the full experience to anyone interested in joining the tour I headed up to the West MacDonnell Ranges myself a few months ago.
It’s hard to explain the beauty of the outback until you’ve experienced it.
It is Australia in its rawest form.
Despite being prepared for a barren landscape, the area is rife with vegetation. Wild flowers are plentiful, spinifex grows in great sweeping blankets and ghost gums cling to sheer cliff faces. A few creatures dare to brave the midday sun and birds of prey glide on the thermals, waiting, waiting to swoop. Deep blue skies devoid of clouds sit in perfect contrast to the rich red rocks below. Immense gorges and valleys are truly awe-inspiring and multi-coloured ochre pits hold stories that only the indigenous Australians can share.
Doris looking back on the Larapinta trail from the Mount Sonder track.
After a long day walking the trail, the campsite is a treat if you’re more glamper than camper. Big pots of water are heated on the campstove in readiness for hot showers before dinner. I sit and enjoy a beer while waiting for my turn to wash and watch the sun sink behind the horizon. There’s just enough time to rug up before dinner is served, which, to me, is an impressive feat every evening. I can just about get it together on a four-hob gas cooker, so I’m still trying to fathom how the guides can cook such great quality food with little more than a paella pan and campfire.
As night falls, the group gather around the campfire to compare experiences of the day and share stories from before we met, gelling quickly over a shared sense of humour.
It’s hard to refrain from constantly looking heavenward, no matter how riveting the campfire conversation. There are few things better than seeing the night sky as it should be – in a remote space unhindered by light pollution.
One by one we say goodnight and take up our spots in tents or swags, making sure the night sky is still visible from our cosy cocoons. The only thing keeping me from sleeping – aside from aching muscles – is the free light show in the sky above.
Ghost gum on the ridgeline, Ormiston Gorge.