Average Winter Temp: 21°C
Average Summer Temp: 34°C
Traditionally inhabited by: Western Arrernte people
The natural wonders of Australia’s Red Centre are spearheaded by the spectacular MacDonnell Ranges. These rocky highlands, with their picturesque waterholes, enveloping blue skies, and wealth of flora and fauna, more than merit a place on every traveller’s wish list. And the gorgeous (and often challenging) Larapinta Trail, with the majestic Mt Sonder as its summit, is one of the most special ways in which to experience the MacDonnell Ranges.
Mt Sonder is the fourth highest peak in Northern Territory. But its main credentials lie in the way it adds definition to the beautiful Larapinta Trail. Marking one end of the trail, it rewards the hardworking hiker with one of the best views to be found in all of Northern Territory. On your way to the summit, you can expect the rare sight of termite-tunnel covered spinifex, entire slopes covered in pines and bright pink flowers, and subtle, gradual changes in vegetation that lend a unique texture to the whole experience. You can also expect to be joined by the delicate desert mouse, the grey-headed honeyeater, the wedge-tailed eagle and the peregrine falcon, to name a few.
Built up of 12 sections of varying difficulty, the Larapinta Trail provides hikers with challenges and rewards in equal measure. Chief among the latter is Ormiston Gorge, a spectacular natural waterhole offering great swimming and picnicking opportunities. You can find a dedicated guide to this area in our post on Ormiston Gorge, NT.
Attractions & Activities:
- Overnight Camping
- Bird Watching
- Wildlife Photography
- Landscape Photography
- Ghost Gum Walk
- Ormiston Gorge
- Ormiston Waterhole Walk
- Ormiston Pound Walk
- Redbank Gorge
While the Larapinta Trail comes with clearly demarcated campsites in all its sections, Redbank Gorge is the only caravan-friendly camping ground in the area. We’re listing it in the next section on account of its budget-friendly camping fees. The following are some better equipped accommodation options in the vicinity for those willing to stretch their budget by a bit:
Glen Helen Homestead Lodge
Namatjira Drive, NT
Located just over 10km from Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Homestead Lodge is equipped to accommodate caravans, trailers and 4WDs of all sizes and varieties. The lodge offers both unpowered and powered sites, along with amenities such as hot showers, free barbecue facilities, gas cookers and refrigeration. Guests can also opt for a delicious dinner at the Namatjira Gallery Restaurant within the premises, accompanied by free live entertainment by local artists. The management also permits guests to bring pets along, provided they are well behaved.
$24/night for 2 persons, unpowered sites; $12 per child
$30/night for 2 persons, powered sites; $12 per child
(Motel rooms and tent sites are also available)
BIG4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park
A well-equipped facility offering both cabins and caravan sites, BIG4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park is one of the most preferred accommodation options in the Alice Springs area. Besides an abundance of powered and unpowered caravan sites, supported by modern camp infrastructure, the property comes with the added perks of an absolutely beautiful setting and a celebrated Sunday breakfast of mouth-watering pancakes (served all year round)!
$37/night for 2 persons, unpowered sites; $15.50 for every additional person; $9.50 per child
$42/night for 2 persons, powered sites; $15.50 for every additional person; $9.50 per child
$51/night for 2 persons, powered ensuite sites; $15.50 for every additional person; $9.50 per child
(Cabins and tent sites are also available.)
Free Camping / Low Cost Camping:
West MacDonnell National Park, NT
Redbank Gorge campground is a popular low-budget stay option for caravanning tourists embarking on the Larapinta Trail. A spacious campsite, the area includes amenities such as pit toilets, picnic tables, gas barbecues and fireplaces. All for a nominal $3.30 camping fee (per person), collected in an honesty box on site.
$3.30/night for 1 person, unpowered sites (honesty box collection)