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.