A popular Larapinta Trail add-on, the Ormiston Pound loop, in Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park is one of Australia’s best day walks. It showcases the remarkable geology of the ancient West MacDonnell Ranges and is a must on any Northern Territory bushwalking adventure.
Travelling anticlockwise from Ormiston Gorge visitor centre, the 9.3km track crosses Ormiston Creek – you might get wet feet – before climbing stony, sparsely planted hills for a view west to Mount Sonder, atop which the Larapinta Trail officially ends. A short, steep detour puts you on the pound’s rim, for a vista over its flat floor and down the creek to the gorge mouth.
A tributary of the Finke River, which local Aboriginal people call Larapinta, Ormiston Creek can flood the gorge after rain (warning signs are posted). Much of the year, though, it’s dry except for a few permanent waterholes. You tread crazy paving of purple rock, patched with pink, grey and white stripes. Either side are natural amphitheatres of shelved stone, behind which rear layered red cliffs.
Spend a night in Ormiston Gorge campground and you may hear dingoes; their group howls echo hauntingly off the cliffs.