A Holiday to Remember
In mid-August, eight St Andrew’s parents and friends embarked on a 5 day Larapinta Trail Trek led by SACS Outdoor Education Instructors Mr John Chapman and Mr Joh Seiler. The guided programme with various day trips from a centralized campsite covered 60km trek of a much longer trail through the West MacDonald Ranges from Alice Spring to Mount Sonder, one of Northern Territory’s highest mountains. The trip was a new format in a parent and friends programme Director of Outdoor Education Mr Ric Van Wachem hopes to grow.
Excerpts of the diary of Ms Nicola Atmore and Mr Michael Savage, parents of Emily (Year 10) and Kay Savage (Year 9) are below.
[We] camped for 10 days in temperatures ranging from -4 to 35, climbed hills ranging from little dollops on the skyline to the massive 640m high Mount Sonder to watch the sun rise, [saw] a dingo in the wild as well as lots of camels and brumbies, gone without changes of clothes for what seemed like days, eaten very well and come home feeling intensely satisfied and with a renewed sense of perspective.
The places we saw varied between the magnificent, and endless dry views that had a beauty all of their own. People talk about the red of the earth, but there are so many colours in it. There was grey, almost the consistency of dry cement, and deep brown. Then suddenly the colour of beaches. We walked though chasms and gorges, never really sure what the difference was, and would spend hours admiring something special like the Ormiston Gorge, only to walk for 10 minutes and look back to find it vanished among the other hills. We dipped our fingers in the oldest river on earth, and went racing up a red sand dune to find, stretching to the horizon on the other side, silver salt pans.
The greatest challenge, and the greatest satisfaction, was Mount Sonder. We had walked away from it for most of the time, but … four of us set off after a night of dingos baying in the distance, and wended our way closer. We camped that night with the rest of our group and were up the next morning in time to start the day's walk at 3am. And walk we did, up and up, staggering in fearsome winds. We were walking by the light of the stars and our head torches, so couldn't see much in front of us…At times I looked up to see the shadow of the mountain looming, and fully believed that I wouldn't make it in time for the sunrise. Then suddenly over a rise, daybreak, red with the light of the earth. And then, another rise and we were there. A small scramble to the top where the others had already gathered and were desperately trying to find a place out of the wind. Sunrise followed; a few quick photos and we were heading downhill...anything to get out of the wind.
We recognised almost nothing on our way down, and overwhelmingly reflected that if we had started the climb during daylight, we wouldn't have made it. But make it we did, triumphantly. And what satisfaction there was in it, and in having completed the 15km round trip before breakfast.
I developed confidence in my bush skills, my walking ability and an enormous sense of pride in my achievement This was an upmarket adventure without a doubt. I also really appreciated how well John and Joh worked together. There was a great sense of harmony between them, and peace between them and the Larapinta. And the organisation of the trip [was] awesome. So much thought had gone into it, and it wasn't remotely a rehash of the kids version. [There was ] a million unexpected luxuries.
Mick and I started off with some trepidation. We were not as fit as we would have liked
our group spent the night at Ormiston Gorge, the most beautiful place we saw in my view, and managed a walk through the gorge that afternoon. Although we worked hard each day, we did it at our own pace. There was no pressure to do more.
A big thank you to the crew and our fellow walkers. It’s been a holiday to remember, and we will sign up again if we get the chance.
As parent expeditions continue to grow all inquiries can be directed to Director of Outdoor Education Ric Van Wachem at firstname.lastname@example.org