Trek Larapinta – Simpsons Gap and Ormiston Pound, Larapinta Trail NT

posted in: Northern Territory, walks | 6

Sunrise in Alice Springs

Day One

My alarm buzzes. No cursing at the early wake up today though as I am about to embark on a trip that I have been wanting to do for years. I pull the curtains aside and stare out onto the darkened silhouette of the mountains before me. I brew my cup of tea and step onto the balcony to watch the mountain begin to glow orange and then red as the rising sun bathes it in its early morning light. I would love to linger and watch the full sunrise but I need to be downstairs and ready for my pickup within the hour. I finish breakfast, pack my bags and head downstairs. Running man and 2 other trekkers and I chat as we wait in the set down zone. We are all awash with anticipation about what the next week will bring.

The van pulls up outside of the hotel and 3 enthusiastic guides jump out to greet us. With the bags packed away securely in the trailer, we climb in and greet the guests already on board. After a short drive around Alice Springs collecting the rest of our group we are off, heading into the West McDonnell Ranges to spend 6 days walking part of the 230 kilometer long Larapinta trail.


Simpsons Gap

A short drive from Alice Springs brings us to our first stop, Simpsons Gap. Here we have a bit of debriefing from our Trek Larapinta guides, Kate, Stella and Ash, about the plans for the rest of the day and do a quick introduction of ourselves to our fellow trekkers. We then make the short walk down to the permanent water hole being straddled by towering red and orange quartzite cliffs. This is a nice easy introduction into the landscape we are going to be spending the next week in. After wandering around and taking a few photographs its back in the van to drive to the Ormiston Pound trail head, which will be our walk for today.


walking into Simpsons Gap, Larapinta Trail NT


Red cliffs of Simpsons Gap


Water hole at Simpsons Gap


Simpsons Gap


No swimming sign at Simpsons Gap


Ormiston Pound walk

The hour long drive from Simpsons Gap to Ormiston Pound gives a us a chance to soak up the scenery around us, there are definite benefits to having someone else take care of the driving. The drive out here leaves me feeling like i have been transported to another country, if not another planet, the geology being like nothing I’ve seen before. We all grab our fruit, muesli bars and trail mix (this stuff is scrumptious and I eat more trail mix than i have ever consumed in my life over the week!) from the snack box, strap on our day packs and head off into the pound.


Ormiston Pound Walk 1


Starting the Ormiston Pound walk on the Larapinta Trail NT


Ormiston Pound Walk 6


Starting the Ormiston Pound walk


Ormiston Pound Walk 2


About 3 weeks before the trip the region had a huge amount of rainfall. As the plants of central Australia are opportunistic rather than seasonal, this means that everything is green and flowering. One of our guides Stella, has a strong background in botany and so she imparts her knowledge of different plants as we walk along.


Ormiston Pound Walk 5


Ormiston Pound Walk 7


Ormiston pound walk clouds


Ormiston Pound Walk 3


We all settle into walking the pace that suits us. I have to admit I am going pretty slow today as I can’t stop taking photos and just standing still and taking in the views around me. I can’t believe we are actually here. The walk gently climbs uphill onto the escarpment where we are provided with amazing views of the mountain ranges making up the walls of Ormiston Pound. We have some morning tea up here and then make our way down the escarpment, crossing through the middle of the pound and follow Ormiston Creek up towards the gorge.


time to have a snack and take in the view


Ormiston Pound Walk 9


Ormiston Pound Walk 8


Ormiston pound walk 18


Ormiston Pound Walk 10


Ormiston Pound Walk 11


walking into the pound


Ormiston Pound Walk 12


Ormiston Pound Walk 13


Our guides leave us to meander along the sandy creek bed taking in the views, while they race ahead to set up lunch for the group. When we catch up with them a short while later they have set out a spread of fresh rolls, salads, chutneys and an assortment of meats on a big granite rock slab. Yum! As we eat our sandwiches in the cool shade of the towering river red gums I feel like I am a million miles away from anywhere and without a care in the world.


Ormiston Pound Walk 14


walking up to our lunch spot


Ormiston Pound Walk 15


Ormiston Pound Walk 17


Ormiston Pound Walk 16


Ormiston pound walk 19


Ormiston pound walk 20


Running Man and I are walking at the back of the group with Stella and taking lots of photos when Stella points out some spinifex pigeons on the ground just in front of us. There are two males doing a little call and dance as the female hops along the ground in front of them feigning disinterest. Rather than be scared off, the trio perform their little courting dance for a good few minutes, hopping down the track in front of us as we walk behind. Stella tells us this is a very unusual sight to witness so we feel pretty chuffed that we got to see it.


spinifex pigeon


Ormiston pound walk 21


Ormiston pound walk 22


The afternoon sun begins to drop as we enter the gorge, the cliffs towering above us now turning a deep shade of red. The walking pace slows now as we pick our way over the rocky creek bed. This walk is so varied with the geology and vegetation. We go from spinifex dominated hills down to the barely vegetated harsh interior of the pound to the river red gum lined creek. The rocky landscape made up of limestone, granite and quartzite juxtaposed with the red earth and vibrant vegetation really is a sight to behold.


Ormiston pound walk 23


Ormiston pound walk 24


Ormiston pound walk 25


Ormiston pound walk 26


Ormiston pound walk 27


Some of the trees are growing in places that defy belief. Running man points up to a tree growing straight out of the rocky cliff walls. “That” he says pointing up “is the very definition of resilience”. I laugh and agree, nature really does overcome some serious odds to survive sometimes.


Ormiston pound walk 28


Ormiston pound walk 29


After skirting around the edges of the creek for a bit we come to a section that requires us to cross the creek. We watch our guides and some of our fellow trek mates beginning to take off shoes and lift their packs over their heads to make the crossing. The water is calf deep, then waist deep then breastbone deep. I look at Running Man and a couple of others who are still yet to cross. “We are all amongst friends here aren’t we?” I say. A woman who is not part of our group but has tagged on to the crossing at our guides suggestion, looks at me and looks at our companions wading out the other side with dripping wet clothes. “Pants off?” I suggest. The woman replies “Friends or not, pants off!”. So the rest of us take off our shoes and long pants, stow them in our packs and wade across in our undies. The water is freezing. Everyone is laughing at the unexpected adventure tacked onto the end of the day with our creek crossing. After we put our pants and shoes back on and continue up the gorge I am so thankful that I didn’t wear my pants through the creek as we still have another half hour until we walk back to the van and drive the short trip to our campsite and what will be “home” for the next 5 nights.


walking up through Ormiston Gorge


Ormiston Gorge


Ormiston Gorge 3


Ormiston Gorge 2


Ormiston Creek Campsite

As we drive into our campsite the sun is slowly beginning to set. We all grab our swags and go choose a tent and settle in. The campsite is lovely. Set out in the sandy riverbed of Ormiston Creek, it comprises a nice big central tent, a campfire down in the river bed, 2 composting toilets and an outdoor area for “bird bath” washing. The tents are nicely spaced out too.

Running man and I have bought along a few bottles each of some nice red wines to enjoy fireside. Kate tells us the hill near camp is great to scramble up and watch the sunset, so we grab some wine and glasses and head up to catch the last rays of the day. And what a way to finish the daylight hours. The sun is setting over Mount Sonder in the distance, the mountain we will be climbing to watch sunrise in a few days time. We clink glasses to a magic first day and when the last of the sun is gone, descend down the hill to to find the fire is roaring and a big antipasto platter has been set out to enjoy while we wait for dinner (which just happens to be a delicious prawn linguine)

The stars of the Milky Way begin to twinkle to life above me as I switch my gaze between the flames of the fire and the sky. I think about the day I have just had and how this place has got under my skin already. I cant wait to see what the Larapinta will reveal to me over the next 5 days.


Ormiston Creek Camp


Ormiston Creek Camp 3


Tents at Ormiston Creek


Ormiston Creek Camp tent


view from tent


Main tent at Ormiston Creek campsite


bathing area at Ormiston Creek campsite




sunset from the hill near camp towards


sunset from the hill near camp towards Mount Sonder


sunset from the hill near camp towards Mount Sonder2


fire at ormiston creek camp


At a Glance



Trek Larapinta offer a number of different walking tours to explore the Larapinta Trail I did the 6 day tour



Simpsons Gap 25 min drive (24kms) west of Alice Springs


mapOrmiston Pound Walk 135 kms west of Alice Springs 3-4 hour walk (approx 8 kms)





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6 Responses

  1. Caro Ryan

    Yet again, my dear, you’ve transported me direct to the Larry Track through your wonderful writing. Sounds like you had such a lovely time. Awesome to see that Saint Hugo was blessing your journey also. Oh and so glad there’s another ‘pants off’ gal around here. So glad you made it there – yay!

    • Amanda

      Hi Caro,
      Glad I could take you on a trip down memory lane. Your video and blog were what finally pushed me into doing the tour and I loved every minute of it! Yes St Hugo and a few other very fine reds blessed our palates at the end of a days walking, up on “the hill” watching the sunset and by the fire. Such an amazing part of Australia. As for pants, sometimes they can be over rated! Pants off will beat walking in cold wet and chaffing pants any day 😉

  2. Jane

    What can I say about such a place? I love the colours and the space out there. What a wonderful experience, Amanda! Thanks for sharing it with us. And by the way, you always look so disgustingly fit! Well done. I look forward to reading the next parts and seeing more great pics. 🙂

    • Amanda

      Jane you would love it out there! You have to go one day. As for the fit comment, I’ll take that as a compliment! I had been sick leading up to the trip and had lost some weight which I was trying to put back on, which I think I eventually achieved by consuming my body weight in trail mix and dark chocolate on the trip 🙂 Looking foward to sharing the rest of the trip with you over coming posts 🙂

    • Amanda

      Thanks Jennifer, it is an amazing place and was such an amazing trip. We had 2 people who had come all the way from Colorado in the US to do it, and one from New Zealand, so great to see the trail attracting hikers from around the world.

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