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The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

In Alice Springs be­fore and after trekking, stay at Chi­fley Alice Springs Re­sort. More: sil­verneedle­ho­tels.com/ chi­fley/alice-springs. Larapinta Ex­pe­ri­ence in Com­fort is a sup­ported three-day walk; $1395 a per­son, The Clas­sic Larapinta Trek is six days; $2395 a per­son. Sea­son is May to Septem­ber; book well ahead for 2017 de­par­tures. More: 1300 720 000; world­ex­pe­di­tions.com.

Our in­de­fati­ga­ble guides set about mak­ing din­ner, which does not in­volve pack­ets of freeze-dried some­thing with tinned stew and car­rots. When their foil­wrapped bar­ra­mundi fil­lets emerge from the camp­fire coals, to be served with fresh veg­eta­bles be­neath a snow­dome of stars, there is no other restau­rant on Earth where I would rather be.

We see dingo pads around the tents in the morn­ing. The dogs them­selves re­main typ­i­cally elu­sive but later, at Or­mis­ton Gorge, we spot tiny, grey rock wallabies amid the tum­bled quartzite boul­ders. There are ran­dom skinks, cock­a­toos and galahs at any time. At Inarlanga Pass we come to the fa­mous Ochre Pits with their ver­ti­cal bands of yel­low, white, orange and red clays on a cliff face. Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple mined these pig­ments for dec­o­ra­tions and ex­changed them along an­cient routes that ran as far as the north and south coasts of the con­ti­nent.

There is no one typ­i­cal day on the Larapinta. At times we hike along high ridges with in­fi­nite views, at other times wade a val­ley creek or stop to pho­to­graph desert roses, na­tive lemon­grass or ghost gums. One morn­ing at Stan­d­ley Chasm I marvel at the cam­ou­flage of a spinifex pi­geon with a wispy crest that ex­actly re­sem­bles tufts of spinifex. Sap­phire skies and Na­matjira colours are the con­stants by day, and ice-storm gal­ax­ies by night.

The trail is well de­fined by way-mark posts and on day three they lead us down from the mag­nif­i­cent Euro Ridge to the out­skirts of Alice Springs.

The Cottes­loe Bolters bring it home here in sig­na­ture style, no sweat. They look as if they’ve just done 3km, not three days, along their lo­cal beach path.

John Borth­wick was a guest of World Ex­pe­di­tions.

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