One of my favourite legs of the Larapinta Trail is from Jay Creek to Standley Chasm (section 3: 4WD and pick-up required). It begins with a tramp down a stony creek bed to a sacred water hole. And ends in the most popular site in the West Macs, a cathedral-like slice through the West MacDonnell Ranges’ red rock which floods with midday sun.
Along the 13.6km walk you pass ghost gums, striped white against red stonework telling of sedimentation, erosion, tilting and buckling. You climb a natural rock wall to a “doorway” cut by a creek that opens onto a corridor of trees that paint shadow stripes across boots. You descend into often stifling dry creek beds and climb ridges for desert air and views over the range and outback plains.
Entering Standley Chasm from the top involves lowering yourself through a gap beneath a massive boulder and navigating a log bridging a 3-metre drop. Having done so, though, it’s an easy walk through the chasm proper to the kiosk for an ice cream.