Published: Jul 2019

Western half, 2019

Note: indicated routes are approximate. Use official topographic maps for navigation.

I arranged transport out to Ellery Creek for the afternoon of my arrival in Alice Springs. After catching up with a mate for coffee, doing some last minute shopping and obtaining the all-important food-drop key, I got a ride with Sandrifter Safaris to the trailhead. They also deposited my food drop at Ormiston Gorge.

Camping at Ellery Creek

Wildfires burnt a significant part of the Larapinta Trail in early 2019. By June, some of the vegetation had started to recover, but many parts were sill completely blackened.

Note that on my previous Larapiunta walk in 2016 we had to abandon the last part of the walk due to flooding which just goes to show how extreme the conditions can be in central Australia.

Serpentine Gorge
As seen from the lookout about a kilometre or so from the campsite.
Trees in Serpentine Gorge
Up to Counts Point
From Serpentine Gorge the trail heads up to a ridge and then back down again to Serpentine Chalet Dam. Normally that's a one-day walk, but I had a few spare days up my sleeve, so I decided to split that into two short days and camp on top at Counts Point.
Morning at Counts Point
Pretty much everybody who camps at Counts Point takes this photo, so it's not going to win a Pulitzer. Still…
Passing traffic

Ah, the serenity.

Note that there's only one really good tent site at Counts Point, so be prepared to walk on in case there are no so suitable sites left.

View from the tent
At Counts Point looking north from the tent in the morning.
While some of the burnt areas were completely devoid of folliage, other areas had started to bounce back by June 2019.
An unscathed section in the middle of a burnt patch near Serpentine Chalet Dam.
Serpentine Chalet Dam

Yes, that's "chalet" and "dam".

In the 1950s an ill-fated tourism venture was built just a few kilometres down the road from this location, and in the 1960s this dam was built in a small gorge to supply it with water. The "chalet" is now just a concrete slab, the dam is silted up with sand and rubble, and this rusty pipe has seen better days.

Another burnt patch
Cycads in Inarlanga Pass
The quality of light in the gorges is often pretty bad. It's usually either direct sunlight or shade with a noticeable blue cast. Sometimes though for a short period you get really great light as the sun hits the opposite wall and lights your subject with buckets of diffuse, warm-toned light.
Rocky, arid slope with small tress and a cliff in the background
Setting up at Waterfall Gorge
Waterfall Gorge
Starry night
From the campsite at Waterfall Gorge. Couldn't resist.
Morning at Waterfall Gorge
Leaving Waterfall Gorge
Heading to Ormiston

Given the harsh conditions, I'm not surprised that this tree doesn't seem to have grown much in the last 16 years

In Ormiston Gorge

As I noted in Inarlanga Pass, you can occasionally get really nice light in a gorge when one wall is lit by diffuse light bouncing off the other wall.

Trees in Ormiston Gorge
Ormiston Gorge
Camping in the Finke
Just before breakfast. The Finke River trailhead has a steel shelter and tent pads about 50 metres behind me, but with no prospect of rain, the river bed makes a much better campsite.
Up again
Back up on the ridge again, heading towards Redbank Gorge.
Mt Sonder
Camping at Rocky Bar Gap
Walking to Redbank
Redbank Gorge
With just a tiny sliver of moon in the top left.
Last day at Redbank
Looking back to Redbank Gorge from the access road near the hilltop campsite.