Since it opened in 2002, the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia has morphed from a favourite local walk to a world famous trek with up to 5000 walkers each year.

Now that I’m one of them, I’m being asked a lot if I would recommend it (absolutely), if I would do it again (absolutely not) and if have advice to share.

I sure do. Here’s my Top 10 trek top for anyone tackling the Larapinta. Many of them are transferable for other long hikes. You’ve got this!

1: Fly Nets. Total game changer. Flies didn’t bother us for the first couple of days then they were everywhere. Fewer than half our group had nets and nearly went nuts. I loved mine as I popped it over my hat and it didn’t touch my face or bother me at all.

2: Trek Tours. Faultless. The things I loved about them were: 1) They have a low guide to trekker number—we had 2 guides to 8 walkers. I spoke to other trekkers in Alice Springs who had 16 in their group with 2 guides. 2) Impact—Trek is serious about leaving no impact wherever they camp. Anything we brought in or created (and I mean everything!) came out with us. Their commitment to minimal impact was highlighted in a non-preachy way 3) Incredible guides—Lani and Kenna were incredible with their knowledge of the environment and their ability to keep us motivated 4) Great group—Trek Tours attracts great people. Our diverse group bonded and worked immediately as a team with many helping me when I struggled on the inclines.  

3: Rural and Remote First Aid—as part of our preparation we consulted with Scott Brown from Rural and Remote First Aid. It was an hour very well spent and I recommend it for any first timers who don’t have a medical/health background. Scott prepared us about responses to situations we might experience. So worthwhile. Reach out to Scott here:

4: No Polarised Sunglasses —I fell four times on day one. I don’t mean little trip overs I mean legs up in the air, wedged between rocks—real bruise-inducing falls. It was recommended I remove my sunglasses which were polarised. No more falls. Apparently polarised lenses can distort your sense of space. Given you have to be constantly focused on which rock to place your feet on with each step, this really changed things for me.

5: Poles—I wouldn’t consider doing the Larapinta without them. Great for balance and leveraging to get up and down rocks. They helped with my struggles with inclines and were also beloved on descents by those in our group with knee issues. Big thanks to Mandy for letting me take her poles out for a whirl.

6: Function over fashion—there’s a huge opportunity for someone to design fashionable hiking gear but I went function over fashion all the way. I wore merino tops which were excellent at keeping me smell-free and a cheap linen blend shirt from Kmart to protect me from the sun. 

7: Short gaiters—there’s an ongoing argument about short or long gaiters. The long ones are really only required early in the season, say April, when the grass and spinifex hasn’t been walked through. Once the path has been trodden the short ones are fine. Our cheap gardening gaiters from Big W were perfect. 

8: Look up—I know this sounds crazy but you’re so focused on the placement of your feet with every step that it’s important to stop regularly and look up at the view. 

9: Discover the glutes BEFORE you go—I really tried to find these elusive muscles before leaving but just wasn’t able to master it. By day 3 I found them by necessity via overworked thighs and hamstrings. With the huge amount of steep inclines, it’s something I wish I had found before.  

10: iPhone13PRO—Someone in our group had this phone and their photos were significantly superior to everyone else’s. If you’re due a new phone, this one captures what others can’t. I had my phone on flight mode and turned it off when I wasn’t taking photos so I only needed to charge it once in the guide’s car.

I could add more (like getting a properly fitting pack and boots and practicing walking in them) but they’re generic to most hikes. Most of all, know that amid the deep discomfort of a lot of it, you’ll have laughs and life-changing days. And enormous satisfaction and self pride.