Every year Epicurious travel has been fortunate to attract the most amazing young guides to work with us on our five month season on the Larapinta trail in Central Australia. 2019 was no exception and our core team of guides Kyle Hodgkinson, Adrien Butler, Jose Rodriguez and Rhiarnna Bishop were incredible. The feedback from our guests was outstanding. With the essential postponement of our 2020 season, Kyle and Adrien have shared their thoughts and reflections about working with Epicurious travel on the Larapinta trail.
Now more than ever we long for a chance to immerse ourselves in nature and be surround by friends and family.
I have been fortunate enough to spend considerable time walking the Larapinta Trail and I feel privileged to be able to guide many happy faces through this beautiful and diverse country. After an invigorating day of walking, the opportunity to take a dip in the cool waters of Ellery Creek will remind you of why you are here. To feel alive and refreshed in nature, connecting with yourself, your new community and this spectacular landscape.
The ancient landscape of the Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges has been sculpted over millions of years by a series of climatic events. The ranges give birth to safe havens for threatened and endangered flora and fauna, especially the ancient Cycads found in Standley Chasm and the Black-footed Rock-wallabies bounding in the gorges. The last 12 months has seen almost 150mms of rain helping to rejuvenate the landscape and bring about a soft green tinge to the rusty red.
As I sit here dreaming of a time I can return to the Larapinta Trail, I know you are also waiting patiently. To help quench this thirst we have collated a series of photos for you to enjoy. But please promise me this one thing, after reading this email, please dust off those walking boots and take them for a trip to the shops and back. By doing this once every three months you will save them from falling apart on your next adventure.
For the last four years I have associated April as the “great wilderness guide migration” from the south (Tasmania, Victoria and southern NSW) to the north (Alice Springs, Darwin, Uluru).
At this time we switch over our wet weather kits of over-pants, knee length rain jackets and the endless stash of dry bags for sun exposure wear, the world’s biggest sunhats, long sleeve quick drying shirts and seven types of sunscreen. We pack away our guidebooks on Tasmanian endemic species and pull from the pile our desert bird ID charts and Central Australian maps – most likely still crusted with red dirt from the previous season.
I have arrived in Alice Springs in many different ways, but my favourite will always be the four day drive from the Epicurious office in Melbourne’s northern suburbs through the Grampians and a sudden turn right at Adelaide on a straight road through the desert which will eventually spit you out into Alice Springs. My migration north was only complete once my feet hit the soil at the Epicurious camp, a familiar 1.5 hours drive west of Alice Springs. One of my many wilderness homes and definitely a favourite.
Every year I feel the pull of the desert and I begin dreaming of the heat, the colour, the magic. I crave nights sleeping in my swag under the blanket of stars and become excited for the new menu and wine that Jennifer has planned for our guests. I always look forward to the Epicurious food and each year vow not to eat too many desserts…I’m yet to be very successful.
This year however the seasonal trip to Alice Springs will remain a nostalgic memory and a dream for seasons to come, as we, like many industries around the world press pause and hope that the desire to experience the desert with us next year will only be stronger – that we are delaying rather than aborting.
For all the guests I would have met this year, I’m sorry to have missed the shared dinners around the fireplace and the sunrises and sunsets we would have watched together. I’ll miss our conversations along the trail, the stories and jokes, and witnessing your delight in a flowering hakea and the clear night sky. I’ll miss spotting rock wallabies at Ormiston Gorge or screaming with you as we swim the cold waters at Ellery Creek. I’ll miss sharing with you my favourite rocks and trees along the trail that I know so well, pointing out the curves of Mount Sonder to the west or the crater created by a meteor to the south.
The strange and wonderful thing is the knowledge that the wilderness will be there when we return, unaffected by the virus that has changed our lives, enjoying rest and solitude for a short while.