Larapinta Guided Walk and misadventure on the mountain


A 5 day guided walk with ‘Life’s an Adventure’….

We are walking in a group of 11, which includes six doctors (3 couples who know each other) from Adelaide, a couple from Brisbane and a woman from Sydney.  All nice people plus two guides.  Our first stop was Standley Chasm, which is in an area controlled by the aborigines, so all need to buy a permit to walk there.  We all walked through the chasm but the bonus of this stop was that we were given a cultural discussion by an aboriginal woman called Dee.  It was excellant and most of us agreed we had never had access to the information she presented to us about aboriginal culture.  One area she explained was the skin system and the family systems.  She was insightful, well spoken and very intelligent.  She used meaningful analogies to explain how the cultural differences were behind so many of the societal problems we (aboriginal and whites) now have.  She used to have a good government job and saw how the lack of understanding lead to so many problems and misundstandings, so she started her own company running these cultural sessions.  Some concepts presented included: the aboriginal culture has no ‘please or thank you’ concept.  People have roles according to their skin sign and that means they have responsibilities that must be fulfilled.  It is a collective society with a different concept of family and auntie and uncle.  It seemed like the sort of material that should be taught in all primary schools, and would explain to us the background to much aboriginal behaviour.

After that we drove to Ormiston Pound and did the pound walk through spectacular Ormiston George.  It was about 12k’s and got us climbing straight away.  We also did a lot of boulder scrambling through the river bed, and crossed over the river a few times.  The scenery was so spectacular we hardly noticed the difficulty.  Because there has been an unusual amount of rain we had to do a tough river crossing, where some got wet up to their neck, some slipped on the rocks and went under.  Finally Dick  and I scored a benefit of being at the end, as the guide found an easier route and we only got wet up to our waists (lucky we changed into our swimmers).  Then we had our first night in the tents which one of the guides had already put up for us.  Dick and I missed the van that night, but it was ok.  I wore thermals and had two sleeping bags as it was quite cold.

The next day we climbed up Mount Sonder, a 700 metre vertical ascent climb and  7-8 hour walk.  We got to the top and enjoyed great views the whole way. All was going well until about 3 k’s down from the top I tripped and fell and badly gashed my left knee.  It was flat and I was marching along so fell really hard on some sharp rocks.  The gash is about 2″ long and 1″ wide and quite deep.  I was a bit dizzy and felt like passing out but managed not to.  After getting bandaged up by the guide, with extra instruction from both of us, taking two neurofens and resting a bit, I managed to walk the two hours down the mountain and we got out before dark. Then we drove in the bus half an hour back to camp. There are 6 doctors in our group, so they all had a look and did a group consult and said go to the hospital and get stitches.  They did clean the wound and bandage it up.  The guide had to drive us 2 hours into the Alice Springs hospital and then he had to drive back to camp, so it was a late night for him as we didn’t get to the hospital til 9:30pm. By then I needed a wheelchair as I couldn’t walk. We got a fabulous doctor who fixed me up, and also gave us tourist advice.  The needles for the anaesthetic hurt like crazy, and then the rest was ok as it was all numb.  Got about 6 or 8 stitches, didn’t look while he was doing it.  Fortunately we had the motorhome parked at a hotel close to the hospital, so as it was about midnight on Saturday night and the town is really full, we just went back and parked in the carpark of the hotel where we had been advised to leave the van during the walk. I felt like a squatter.

Actually it has worked out ok.  We rejoined the group at Glen Helen homestead, as this was the plan for the walk.  Dick only missed one day’s walking and I had a nice place to stay to rest up my leg.  The doctor said not to walk for a few days and keep it up so thats what I’m doing.  Stayed in bed sleeping or reading the whole day.  Dick enjoyed the walk from Serpentine Gorge to Serpentine Chalet  They followed the gorge for about 6k’s and got to Count’s Point where there was a spectacular view of Hidden Valley.  Its now the last day of the walk and the group are doing an 8 k walk near the Ochre Pits up to Inarlanga Pass, another beautiful gorge.  We have the van so I have a nice place to hang out while they walk. After that walk we drove to Ellery Creek Big Hole where a few of our group had a swim.  The last stop was Simpsons Gap where we saw lots of rock wallabies.  The cliffs, gorges, trees etc were beautiful in all these places.  Dick’s summation of the walk was that the Larapinta Trail was much more spectacular than he had anticipated and really awe inspiring.  Every day we saw really great stuff.  Hope you enjoy these pictures!

Pat and Dick


Our group and Dee in Standley Chasm


In Ormiston Gorge
Looking back into Ormiston Gorge where we walked


Starting the climb up Mt Sonder
Surveying the view from the top of Mt Sonder


Track along top of Serpentine Gorge



Hidden Valley at the end of Serpentine Gorge
Inarlanga Pass


Sunrise at Glen Helen and the cliff view from our room


Ellery Creek Big Hole with Dick sleeping on the grass



Simpsons Gap at the end of the walk


15 thoughts on “Larapinta Guided Walk and misadventure on the mountain

  1. Fantastic travel stories. Sorry it had to be so dramatic with a hospital visit. Thank goodness for the van!!

  2. Fabulous pics Pat and travelogue. Shame about your accident but you were fortunate to be surrounded by experts. Keep on enjoying this wonderful country. I went to a lot of these places in the 70’s – but as a tourist NOT a walker.

    Love Jeanette

  3. Hi Pat and Dick,
    It all sounds wonderful except of course the part about your leg Pat. Lucky there were so many doctors on the trip!
    I love the photos and hope that’s it for mishaps from now on.

  4. Take care Pat, sounds very nasty cut, at least you have some backup with the van. Love the photos, very inspiring! xx

  5. Fabulous photos! Looks like you are having a wonderful trip. Hope you knee heals soon,
    Reunion was so much fun

  6. Wonderful pictures and story Pat – brings back so many memories of our flyaway and makes me itch to go back there again.Look forward to more of your (not mis) adventures.


    Fiona and Gerry

    1. I told Dick at the time we were doing those photos, that the daughters would not be happy seeing us both in red tops; and I was right!

    2. Great travelogue – bar the knee of course. That doctor group consult probably took the outback record. They could have carried you down too though! Your photos brought back memories of our time at Stanley Chasm & Simpson’s Gap (2001), great places. How special to see the rest along with Dee’s educational.. Love, Chris & Graham

  7. I love to hear about your adventures. The pictures are showing me a side of Australia I was not aware of. In my two trips to australia I did not get to the interior.

  8. Really enjoyed reading this except for the part about your mishap. Hope your recovery is speedy! Your photos are fabulous -brings back memories from a few years back – we really loved Stanley Chasm too!!!

  9. Sounds amazing Pat. Great to hear of your adventures. But not your misadventure! Glad you got to hospital and able to rest up.
    Wonderful pics.
    Take care. Love V xx

  10. Love the travelogue! The pictures are great, especially like the one of the sunrise. So glad you got to see a doctor for your knee. Imagine it was stiff for awhile, but at least you got to rest up in your van.

  11. Great photos and great story apart from your knee Pat. Ouch! Your trip so far sounds spectacular. Stay safe. Continue to enjoy. Xox

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