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West Macdonnells ideas

PostPosted: Wed 14 Jul, 2021 3:51 pm
by Lukec
Lockdowns permitting, I have a week in early august to do some hiking around the western end of the Larapinta trail.
I've browsed the forum for a few ideas but having trouble getting a solid plan together. (I have previously climbed Mt Sonder and completed the eastern half of the Larapinta trail; Ellery Creek to Alice.
I'm interested in incorporating some off track sections - Mt Giles seems a good place to start; it it possible to head south from there and rejoin the Larapinta trail? My main concern is water. Chapman is out-of-print currently and I'm not sure where to get info about water sources (if anyone's got an old copy they could loan or sell that would be great!)
Also not sure about transportation options (drop off/pickup, it seems the pandemic has been very hard on operators up there).
any advice or ideas most welcome


Re: West Macdonnells ideas

PostPosted: Wed 14 Jul, 2021 6:55 pm
by ribuck
Hi Luke,

It's fantastic country. I suggest to start your off-track adventures by doing the walks from Ormiston Gorge to Bowmans Gap and to Mt Giles. There's plenty of water at Bowmans Gap (south and north ends). The north end is the prettier campsite, but be sure to go all the way up the creak that heads east from the south end, to visit the dramatic Canyon of the Thirteen Pools.

For Mt Giles, there is a spring at grid reference 782829 which is more palatable than what's currently in Ormiston Creek.

The Park information sheet gives more details on these walks: ... -sheet.pdf

From the base of Mt Giles, you can continue east to Giles Yard Spring, which has reliable water at grid reference 855834. From there it takes a full day to head generally south across to Pioneer Pass and meet the Larapinta Trail a little bit west of Inarlanga Pass, to exit at Ochre Pits or Serpentine Chalet. However, I would normally prefer to return to Ormiston Gorge.

If the transport operators are booked out, you can rent a car and leave it at Ormiston Gorge. I have done this quite a few times, with a note on the dashboard saying "Bushwalking Until <date>", and I have never had a problem.

I would give some more details, but I'm about to head off on a 14-day trip from Hugh Gorge to Mt Razorback. This area is like a drug - I started with Bowmans Gap and Mt Giles too.

Free topographic maps are downloadable from here: ... data/68386

For electronic navigation, there is a paid Larapinta map for the Avenza mapping app which also covers Mt Giles and Bowmans Gap.

Re: West Macdonnells ideas

PostPosted: Thu 15 Jul, 2021 9:42 am
by north-north-west
The easiest Giles-south-to-Larapinta option is, as ribuck said, via Pioneer Pass, but if you don't mind working a bit harder you can hit the ridges further east and get to Serpentine Chalet Dam trackhead fairly easily. There is reliable water near the head of the gorge before you sidle on the western side and descend to the dams and track. Or you can use Pioneer Pass and then go east up the valley to reach the same area. Much as I love Inarlanga, this route is even better.

If you don't mind carrying the water up, there are a few tent sites up on the ridge, one very close to the summit of Lltharkelipeke. Camping doesn't get much more stunning than that.

I think Chapman's website has some more details on water sources around that area, if you know how to search it.

Re: West Macdonnells ideas

PostPosted: Thu 15 Jul, 2021 6:37 pm
by Lukec
Thanks guys, really helpful info. And yet it only took about 24 hrs from posting that msg to be caught in yet another Victorian lockdown, so we shall see what transpires.
I have booked a hire car, but it seems a waste to pay over 100 bucks a day to have it sat in a car park for several days.
I’ll do some more digging in Chapman’s website also for water advice. Seems pretty dry up there now (and hot!)

Re: West Macdonnells ideas

PostPosted: Sat 17 Jul, 2021 1:01 pm
by southcoastbloke
Thanks for asking the question Luke

My wife and I are returning to Larapinta in September and have planned some time off track around Mt Giles - we have 23 days all up travelling west to east. Our current plan is to spend 2 nights at Bowmans Gap, a night up high on Mt Giles, a night a Giles Yard Spring and then returning to trail through Pioneer Pass.

Thanks Ribuck and NNW for the tips above and information shared in this forum and trip reports - greatly appreciated - I will have a look at alternatives to Inarlanga Pass

Ribuck - I fully get the addictive nature of the area - we spent 21 days on the trail last September and after canvassing a range of options for a trip this year, we couldn’t go past returning to the West Macs

Many thanks, Chris