Larapinta Day 18 (LAST DAY)

Day 18 Red Bank Gorge to Mt. Sonder (Return)

We got up at 2:30am and leaving camp at 2:45am, the hike up to Mt. Sonder to watch the sunrise as part of our final goodbye to the beautiful trail we spent our 18 days living simply on. Arriving at the peak by 5:20am the wind was so cold that the layers we had on were not enough. Our fingers and toes were in pain as the cold wind bit through the material of our clothes. We were waiting for an hour and a half for the sunrise. As the rays of the sun began to peek from the horizon, many day tour group hikers started pouring through. They crowded around each other for warmth, making a lot of noise on top of a mountain waiting for the sunrise.  By 7am the sun had mostly risen, we had taken enough selfies. We promptly left the noise of day tourists behind us walking down and watching the shadow of Mt. Sonder retreat from view.

Arriving back to camp at 9am, we packed all of our things and got ready for the car, we excitedly discussed what we would do once the bus picked us up. We could get food from Ormiston, and snacks from Standley as we retrieved our food drops. By that time, the bus was overdue and by thirty minutes. We realized there was a chance the bus might not come.

After a worried GPS text sent to Eddy, he checked and confirmed that the transport company thought they weren’t picking us up until tomorrow!

Eddy was able to get them to arrange transport for pick up at 2:30pm that day instead, as well as confirmed the hotel booking was on the correct date. Thankfully it was! I was greatful to have my InReach Explorer with the ability to send texts as there was no reception to contact the transport company.

The bus finally rolled in and we took full advantage of the stops to retrieve our tubs to also pick up our desired food. I, of course, went overboard with pie, coke, banana, and ice cream from Ormiston, then more ice cream from Standley Chasm.

Organising lessons for next time:

  • Print bookings receipts along with the itinerary for the trip
  • Keep receipts during the trip.

Written by Jay Sims

Edited by Alex Hay

Larapinta Day 17

Day 17 Rock Bar Gap to Red Bank Gorge

The hike to Red Bank Gorge was uneventful in terms of the view, but a good time to chat with Simone at a cruisy pace (4.28km/h).

We arrived at Red Bank Gorge by 11am! qw rested, had lunch, and then headed over to the gorge which was stunning with turquoise water, lots of bird life. It was a peaceful couple of hours there with a little boulder climb for me and Yushu.

I did an interview on my gopro with the gorge as my backdrop before heading back to camp.

As we were setting up our tents for our final cowboy camps, we listen to excited conversations from hikers who were about to start their endeavours from Mt Sonder. Good luck to them, I felt jealous that they were about to start their amazing journey as we finished ours.

Red Bank Gorge

  • Water tank x 1
  • Outdoor toilet 50m away towards the car park
  • No shelter

Written by Jay Sims

Edited by Alex Hay

Larapinta Day 16

Day 16 Glen Helen – Rocky Bar Gap

Woke up at 7am to pack up and have breakfast at Glen Helen by 8am. We left at 9am to head towards Rocky Bar Gap. Missing the entrance, we had to backtrack about 30 m.

Feeling slightly lethargic and hungover from the night previous, I slogged through the hike the slowest of the group. We had lunch at Hill Top to see the intimidating views of Mt. Sonder starting to tower over the trail on our way to Red Bank Gorge.

Starting to become more sombre as the trip nears the end. I missed being in the outdoors with a group of people who share the same appreciation fr so long. Though we didn’t know each other at the start; coming to the end I wouldn’t change the people and the experiences we shared on this trip for a lifetime.

Rocky Bar Gap Campsite

  • Water tanks
  • Outdoor toilet
  • Dirty camp areas boundaries lined with stone


Written by Jay Sims

Edited by Alex Hay

Larapinta Day 15

Day 15 – Ormiston to Glen Helen

  • Left 7:45am, arrived 11am

We missed the breakfast period and were too early for the lunch period from 11:30am to 2:30pm, so we opted for a meat pie, fruit salad, orange popper juice, and a crunchie. On the bright side, we still had Optus reception!

Yushu arrived at 11:30am, and Trish and Simone 11:50am. Trish was not in a good mental state, the last unexpected 4km to Glen Helen wore her down mentally and physically in the heat (29 degrees). She has booked herself into a proper room to have time to herself away from the heat. There was concern whether she would continue or not tomorrow.

We had a large lunch, a couple of beers and too many potato chips. I think the fried food and alcohol got to me, so I spent the rest of the morning in the shade trying to nap off my bloated and tipsy state.


I sat by the Finke River, pant legs folded up to my knees. The only sound was the soft breezes rustling the dry grass reeds across the bank. The water was cool enough to walk through in the shallows. If you’re still enough, you start noticing the bird life that surrounds this area.

After I walked back to the camp, the girls confirmed that the showers here were hot! Taking my time, I hopped in and, low and behold, actual warmth! The luxury of a warm shower was bliss.

Back at camp, i interviewed Yushu and then headed to the restaurant for a couple of wines and a cheese and cracker nibble.

I met a mother and daughter, from Ormiston (we met them as they were hiking towards Mt Giles).  Unfortunately, Sunday, the daughter, got a sweat rash infection in her underarm that was the size of half a golf ball. They returned the following day and stayed at Ormiston before staying another night in Glen Helen. 9 days from Red Bank Gorge to Ellery, cut short by 1.5 days.


Glen Helen Campsite

  • Powered Campsite
    • 4 dual plugin ports
    • 4 showers (though the ones around the back of the caravan campsite had HOT water)
  • Flushing Toilets
  • Bar
  • Restaurant that serves hot potato chips!
  • Decently stocked fridge for hiking snacks, icecream and chocolate
  • Outdoor seat facing a sandy river beach, where people can go for a swim

Written by Jay Sims

Edited by Alex Hay

Larapinta Day 14

Day 14, Ormiston Zero day

Woke up at 5:30am.

I laid in bed watching others pack for their next section of hiking. My group did not get up until 7:30am! it was justified rest day to enjoy ourselves and explore this hiker’s heaven.

Before breakfast (kiosk opened at 10am), hiked the Ghost Gum trail, a lookout over the gorge with an amazing view of the main waterhole, turquoise in the morning sunlight below with white sand. The hike looped down through the gorge back to the kiosk. The 1.5km trail probably took us about 2 hours, as the boulders between the smaller waterhole and the main waterhole was an obstacle in itself to cross.

We had a big breakfast of course. Cheese and bacon turnovers, plus two cokes, an apple and an orange (hiker hunger for Jay).

After breakfast, we hiked Pound Gap Walk, to walk all the excess amount of food while maintaining fitness. Seeing the adjacent views from what we had at the Mt Giles Lookout. The hike to the highest point was uneventful but the views were worth it while enjoying a green apple. We completed that hike without packs in 2 hours (8km averaging 4km/h). Afterwards, we celebrated with a quick dip in the main waterhole in the gorge in our bra and undies. Though the water was nice in the shallows, the further into the centre you swam the cooler the water temperature was. Not as cold as Ellery Creek though.

We saw a Perentys lizard sunbaking in the shallows of the main waterhole.

For the rest of the time we were enjoyed our lunch meals with a dash of iced coffee/chocolate, coke, chips and fresh fruits.

Ormiston Campsite (100m from campsite look for Larapinta sign!)

  • The Kiosk carries fruits, drinks, ice cream, iced beverages (chocolate and coffee), smoothies, variety of meals (all day breakfast and lunch), packet chips (chicken, salt and vinegar, twisties), chocolates, feminine hygiene products, toothbrush/paste, deodorant, conditioner (no shampoo…) and band aids
  • The outdoor seating area of the kiosk has two power points to charge from, plus another two on the kiosk external wall with the two lamps
  • Caravan park section
  • Coach campsite section (just before hikers’ campsite)

Larapinta campsite

  • Two outdoor toilets
  • Three raised platforms (two in the tour site and one in the Larapinta campsite
  • Multiple natural water holes at the gorge, the main one gets the most sunlight (closest to the kiosk)
  • Multiple walks around the area (Ghost Gum walk and Pound walk being the most popular)

Written by Jay Sims

Edited by Alex Hay

Larapinta Day 13

Day 13 – Lookout to Mt Giles to Ormiston

Up at 5:30am with pleasant messages through my InReach account from close friends.

I expected it to be colder last night, certainly the wind was cold, but I did not feel as cold sleeping. I got almost a full night’s rest, bar the odd toilet break urgency.

We arrived at Ormiston Campsite, and we have Optus coverage! I was able to call my sister, mum and Eddy. It was good to hear from familiar voices and be able to catch up with current events back home. It was also nice to have a scroll through Facebook messages and post a few things on Instagram.

We ate a couple of burgers, ice blocks, cans of coke zero, and pastries from the café. My god, it was the best thing I’d had in days.

When it was time to have a shower, consistent with my other showers, it was cold and underwhelming. I was pretty devastated to have another cold shower but I quickly warmed up in the afternoon sun.

The other Canberra group strolled in later that day, Trish and the French lady do not seem to get on well. She’s lovely to chat to but will not acknowledge Simone or Trish, only Yushu and myself. Such odd drama from what could be considered an incident over water at a campsite, a day or two earlier.

Note: download StarTrack app for star gazing or cowboy camping.


Larapinta Day 12

Day 12 – Serpentine Chalet Dam to Mt Giles Lookout

Woken up by organisers of the Larapinta run at 5:30am, got up at 6:30am, got dressed, and hiked on.

The Ilanga Pass was beautiful adding a different view and type of hiking for us. It included things like Rock hopping and boulder climbing. Those are my favourite types of terrain. You don’t even feel like you’re ascending, just having fun climbing over rocks in the cool shade of the valley.

Once we emerged from the pass, we saw great green views of the ridges, the classic orange, white, and green speckled ranges.

We were climbing towards the saddle to waterfall gorge. Once there we were somehow hoping for a waterfall but of course it was dry and quite underwhelming. I continued down the river bed to climb to the Mt Giles Lookout point which felt like endless switch backs.

Once at the top, the view to Mt. Giles was stunning and even better looking east, we could see Mt Sonder’s silhouette. We hiked another 2km to the sheltered campsite and it was well worth the additional distance since we could sit to admire the gallery and canyons to Mt. Giles and the surrounding areas.

We had time to set up camp, hang out things on trees and rest. We were talking about the burgers, and drinks from Ormiston and the beautiful water showers we would have.

The sunset was spectacular here. The egg like shape of the sun setting in the horizon as it spilled orange lights like wildfire across the horizon was almost a 360 degrees view. I took a time lapse, but nothing compares to seeing it in person.

Written by Jay Sims

Edited by Alex Hay