Larapinta Trail school group information

If you are organising a school group you should read the listed general information on the Larapinta Trail

This page has extra information for school groups that choose to hike the trail.

Supervision

School groups need to be supervised on the trail at all times. 

Teachers and supervisors are responsible for making sure students are ready to take on the trail. 

As a teacher or supervisor it is best that you have a current Senior First Aid certificate or equivalent. 

One person should have a Remote Area First Aid certificate.

Groups should carry a satellite phone and spare battery for use in emergencies.

There should be one teacher or supervisor for every eight students.

On busy sections of the trail, such as Section 1 to Section 3 and Section 10 to Section 12, the ratio can be reduced to one teacher for every 15 students. 

Campsites for school groups

In some places it is possible for school groups to have their own campsite. 

Below is a list of campsites able to be used by school groups as an alternative to the main campgrounds.

Wallaby Gap overflow campground: Section 1

This campground is 1km from the main Wallaby Gap campground along the vehicle access track. 

Facilities include a shelter, toilet and water tank. 

Keys can be borrowed from the Tourism Central Australia visitor centre. You will need to pay a $50 refundable deposit.

You need to book with the Simpsons Gap Ranger Station by calling (08) 8955 0310. 

Simpsons Gap: Sections 1 and 2

There is a camp for school groups 4km from the gap. It has a picnic shelter, firepit, shower, toilet and gas barbecue. 

School groups have free use of the camp. 

You need to book with the Simpsons Gap Ranger Station by calling (08) 8955 0310. 

Old Hamilton Downs Homestead: Sections 2 and 3

This privately owned facility is 4.5km from Jay Creek.

There is accommodation, a kitchen, camping, toilet and shower facilities. 

Fees apply and you will need to book by calling (08) 8956 8613.

Standley Chasm: Sections 3 and 4

This camp is privately owned and operated. Entry and camping fees apply.

To book go to the Standley Chasm website or call (08) 8956 7440.

Birthday Waterhole and Hugh Gorge: Sections 4, 5 and 6

Groups should camp at Birthday Waterhole when camping in these sections.

If you need to camp at Hugh Gorge, pick an area at the creek before the gorge. 

You must have a high clearance four-wheel drive.

Serpentine Chalet bush camp: Sections 8 and 9

The first of eight campsites is 1.3km from Serpentine Chalet Dam trailhead.

Ormiston Gorge: Sections 9 and 10

There is a designated coach camping area with gas barbecues, a shower and toilet facilities. 

Fees apply and you must book with the Ormiston Gorge rangers by calling (08) 8956 7799.

Glen Helen Resort: Sections 10 and 11

This privately owned facility is an alternative to camping at Finke River. A grassed camping area and other accommodation is available. 

Fees apply. To book, call Glen Helen Resort on (08) 8956 7489.

Finke Two Mile: Sections 11 and 12

This bush camping area is an alternative to the Finke River trailhead. 

Redbank Gorge: Sections 11 and 12

There is an area set aside for coach camping at the Woodland campground, 2km from the trailhead. It has toilets, fire pits, picnic tables and gas barbecues.

Fees apply. For more information contact Parks and Wildlife.

Water

All groups supported by vehicles need to supply their own water rather than use the water tanks.

Fires

Fires are not allowed on the Larapinta Trail. It has a fuel stove only policy. 

You can have a small campfire at Birthday Waterhole and Hugh Gorge if you are not at the Larapinta trailhead. 

You can have campfires at Finke Two Mile and in fire pits at Ellery Creek Big Hole, the Serpentine Chalet Bush Camp or at the Redbank Gorge Woodland campsite.

You need to bring your own firewood and make sure the fire is completely out before you leave.

Food drops

Most school groups have a support vehicle and do not need food drops. If you need to make food drops, make sure all food is well sealed and hidden from animals and ants.

Read about food drops.

Swimming

Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge are the best places for swimming. 

During the walking season, from April to October, and even during the summer, all waterholes in the West MacDonnell National Park can be very cold. 

You should never dive into the water. 

Emergencies

Teachers and supervisors should spread themselves out in the group, ideally at the front, middle and back of the group. 

If the group is spread out, students should walk in groups of three so in an emergency someone can stay with the injured person while another person goes for help. 

Each student should carry an emergency whistle and signalling mirror.

An emergency phone with a link to 000 is on the road into Ellery Creek Big Hole. 

What to do if a member gets lost

If a member of your group gets lost, contact the police immediately. 

You will need to tell the police all of the following:

  • the exact location where the person was last seen
  • what clothing they were wearing
  • any relevant personal information, such as medical conditions.

Leave a prominent marker such as a bright shirt where the person was last spotted to help searchers.

What to do if you get lost

If you get lost, stay calm. Stay together if you are in a group.

Find an open area nearby to wait for help.

What to do if there is a bushfire

Don't start your walk if a bushfire is burning in the area. Check with a ranger first or check the trailhead for the latest information and advice. 

If you are caught in an area threatened by fire, you should do all of the following:

  • find an open, bare area such as a creekbed
  • protect yourself from the heat - you can crouch behind a rocky outcrop and wait for the fire to pass
  • replace synthetic clothes with wool or cotton clothing and avoid showing any skin
  • protect your airways by staying low to the ground and covering your mouth with a wet cloth.

What to do if there is a flood

Parts of the trail follow dry watercourses that may easily flood. If flash floods happen, walkers should move to higher ground and wait for creeks to subside. 

Do not camp in creek beds if there has been a lot of rain. 

If flooding continues you should wait to be rescued. Never try to cross flood waters.

Further reading

  • Bushfires and Bushtucker. Aboriginal Plant Use in Central Australia (1995) Peter Latz. IAD Press.
  • A Field Guide to Central Australia (1995) Penny van Oosterzee. Reed Books Australia.
  • Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (1996) Ken Simpson and Nicolas Day. 5th ed. Penguin Books Australia Ltd.
  • Take a walk in Northern Territory’s National Parks (2006) John and Lyn Daly. Take A Walk Publications.
  • Tracks, Scats and Other Traces (2003) Barbara Triggs. Oxford University Press.
  • Wildflowers and Plants of Inland Australia (2001) Anne Urban. Published by Paul Fitzsimmons.

Go to Larapinta links and contacts for more information.

Last updated: 13 October 2017