There’s nothing quite like climbing red mountains at dawn, showering in green canvas tents with dodgy flaps and “chewing the fat” fireside, under the expanse of a milky blanket of stars.
I’d never entered the Red Centre. Well, not Australia’s Red Centre anyway. It was high time I connected with the earth beneath me and dropped out of internet range for a stint. So last month with 7 friends, I trekked the Classic Larapinta Trail with company World Expeditions, starting at Alice Springs. All I knew of Alice came from absorbing the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, so I was at least prepared for an abundance of red rocks (minus the cocks in this case). The extreme dryness, extreme heat and extreme cold were foreign to me, so the existence of wildflowers and abundance of bush tucker in this harsh landscape enthralled.
Our six day expedition followed the line of the Northern Territory’s West MacDonnell Ranges and involved hiking 10-13 kms per day, too easy when your back pack only contains water and blister protection for the day. Our guides clearly had the lions’ share, transporting us, cooking for us, cleaning for us, all the while puffing out historical knowledge like smoke-clouds used in aboriginal tribal communication.
Each night was spent at a purpose-built campsite where hot showers and compostable toilets afforded 5 star desert luxury. Modesty flew out the window, or tent flap more precisely. Environmentally friendly soap, pea straw and the “donkey” (a gas powered water heater) became our closest allies as ego washed away.
The opportunity to grab your swag and sleep under the stars proved inspiring. Many a shooting star was spotted and wished upon, made all the more magic among friends.
Each day we trekked a peaceful pathway in a westerly direction visiting Standley’s Chasm, Serpentine and Ormiston Gorges, punctuated only by a not-so-peaceful 2am wake-up to summit Mount Sonder for sunrise, where we saluted the dawn with some goddess-like yoga…feeling seriously invincible and zen.
Taking time out from the rigours of domestic life and work couldn’t be more rewarding. Immersing yourself in a foreign landscape and surviving the rigours of rock-hopping are one thing, but challenging yourself to listen, observe and learn to be at one with Country is another.