The Namatjira Stage Descriptions

Namatjira Course Descriptions


  • Stage 1: 11km around Alice Springs to the Old Telegraph Station.

  • Stage 2: 20km from The Old Hamilton Downs Station to Standley Chasm.

  • Stage 3: 22km from Glen Helen to Ormiston Gorge.

  • Stage 4: 30km from Redbank Gorge to and Glen Helen.


The Namatjira – STAGE 1

The Run Larapinta Stage Race starts with a unique stage that will provide an ‘easy way’ into the stages to come AND a memorable trail running experience as you run through sunset into a night time finish under lights.


Date: Friday 16 August, 2019
Start location: 1km north of Mercure Hotel in Alice Springs
Finish location: Old Telegraph Station in Alice Springs
Length: 11km. Elevation: 110m up and 110m down
Start time: 17:30
Water point: Approx 6.5km pt
Course records:  
40:44 Brad White and 47:11 Emma Kraft
Cut off times: All runners must pass the water point (~6.5km pt) by 6:45pm
Difficulty rating: Easy/Medium


The first race of the event takes place on the running and mountain biking trails that surround Alice Springs and follows a scenic route past many of the town’s landmarks. These trails are not overly technical, have a great sense of flow and will provide a terrific introduction to the Central Australian terrain you’ll enjoy over days to come.

Stage 1 will commence at 5:30pm (allowing you to fly into Alice Springs that day and still race) and whilst the race starts in daylight you will run through the sunset and into night time before reaching the finish line at the iconic Telegraph Station. This will provide an incredible experience for all runners as you will get to experience the thrill of running through the desert at night time, under a universe of stars and the silent outback world around you.

All runners must start with a head torch that you can turn on when darkness descends (sunset is 6:20pm) that provides yet another spectacle as you see runners ahead and behind you weaving along the trail under the guide of their lights. This will be a very memorable race experience.

The stage finishes in the grounds of the Old Telegraph Station where the finish chute is lined with silent Ghost Gums and the mighty Todd River (dry!), providing a memorable finale to the first stage of racing.

The Telegraph Station is just 5km from the centre of Alice Springs making for an easy transfer back to your hotel (warm down jog?).

Please note, Stage 1 of the Malbunka and the Namatjira is not on a great deal of the Larapinta Trail but alternative trails providing a good introduction close to Alice Springs. 




Stage 2 is a very challenging but incredibly scenic run that takes runners across soem challengign (but spectacular) terrain.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Competitors please note this is the hardest stage of the event with long rocky sections providing slow going and many climbs and ascents that can proove tough in the heat - so please come prepared to embrace all elements the course throws at you.


Date: Saturday 17 August, 2019
Start location: Old Hamilton Downs Station – 1hr30 drive from Alice Springs
Finish location: Standley Chasm – 45mins drive from Alice Springs. (2hrs drive from Hamilton Downs)
Length: 20km. Elevation: 600m up and 525m down
Start time: 08:15
Water point: 400m south of Fish Hole at the 6.5km point. Runners must depart this water point with a minimum of 3lt water with you. 
Course records:    
2:14:56 Courtney Atkinson and 2:41:00 Elizabeth Dornom
Cut off times: All runners must have left the water point by 12:00 midday
Difficulty rating: Difficult/Hard with steep and technical terrain


Namatjira runners will start at the Old Hamilton Downs station homestead, a collection of historic old buildings that are now run as a youth camp on the northern side of the Ranges. Rolling out through the front gates, the terrain starts off very easily with a wide and flat 4WD track winding south and ever closer to the impressive MacDonnell Range ridgeline, ranges that you reach after about 6km of easy running.

Runners pass through the first of many ‘gaps’ in the ridge lines at Fish Hole (new water point location) and not long after turn right for a tough but incredibly scenic climb to the top of the ridge that provides simply jaw dropping views in all directions – including back down to Hamilton Downs where you started 9km earlier.

The climb to the ridge top is quite steep and rocky and hot (but the views make it so worth it) and once atop the ridge the trail continues to be rocky and technical as it drops away on either side.

Descending from the ridge is also quite exciting as you scramble through Fig Spring down to the valley bottom. The trail from here through to the finish is also very rough and technical (the most difficult section of the event) with several short scrambles up / over bounders and technical terrain - please be prepared as it includes a lot of rocky sections and is slow going for all competitors, making the finish line at adjacent the Standley Chasm cafe a very welcoming sight!.

This is the most technical and challenging stage of all the Namatjira stages and should not be taken lightly but the difficulty is  offset by the spectacular landscape and views you enjoy along the way.

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section number 3:






Stage 3 is a little longer than Stage 2 but easier on the knees and the ankles as the trail is generally less technical in comparison to Stage 2 and passes through the spectacular Ormiston Gorge.


Date: Sunday 18 August, 2019
Start location: Glen Helen Homestead - 1hr20 drive from Alice Springs
Finish location: Ormiston Gorge Car Park - 1hr25 drive from Alice Springs
Length: 22km. Elevation: 530m up and 490m down
Start time: 08:30
Water point: Ormiston Gorge at the 13.4km point
Course records:   
2:05:25 Bradley White and 2:10:29 Elizabeth Dornom
Cut off times: All runners must have departed the the Orimston Gorge water point (13km pt) by 11:30pm
Difficulty rating: Medium


Starting from the historic Glen Helen Homestead the track covers some relatively flat and fast moving terrain interspersed with some sandy river crossings along the way – including a crossing of the historic Finke River at the 4.5km mark. The further you get into the stage the more interesting it gets as you get closer and closer to the ridgeline and the renowned Ormiston Gorge.

Runners pass through the Ormiston Gorge car park (and finish line location) for a water point at the 13km mark and then set out on the popular Ormiston Pound Loop walk.

The Orimston Pound loop walk is one of the most popular walks for tourists visiting the west MacDonnell Ranges and as it takes you over the ridge and then into the astounding Ormiston Pound – a water catchment that appears to have no exit. The trail through the pound is very well marked and considerably rockier and more technical than the first 13km. Pending water levels, runners may need to negotiate 1-2 river crossings with water up to waste deep in the gorge – making a refreshing change like an oasis in the dessert.

The stage finishes with a short climb up to the picturesque Ghost Gum Lookout and then a short descent into the finish line back in the Ormiston Gorge Car Park.

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section number 10 plus the Ormiston Pound Loop walk.
Section 10 details on the Larapinta Trail website (including maps, trail notes and more).




– Tourism NT STAGE 4

The final stage is certainly the longest of all the stages and includes a terrific sense of journey as you race along the range and across the flats to finish at the Glen Helen Homestead in the mighty Finke River.


Date: Monday 19 August, 2019
Start location: Redbank Gorge – 1hr45 drive from Alice Springs, 25mins from Glen Helen
Finish location: Glen Helen Homestead - 1hr20 drive from Alice Springs
Length: 30km. Elevation: 565m up and 635m down
Water point: Rocky Bar Gap at the 12km point
Race start: 07:00
Course records:   
2:21:00 Courtney Atkinson and 2:55:45 Elizabeth Dornom
Cut off times: All runners must have departed the Rocky Bar Gap water point (12km pt) by 11:45pm
Difficulty rating:  Medium


The trail starts at Redbank Gorge car park and whilst the Malbunka runners commence with a climb and descent of Mt Sonder, Namatjira runners skirt the south flank of the mountain on a section of trail that makes for good running as it’s flat and on good, non technical crushed rock terrain. Pass through Rocky Bar Gap at the 12km mark and be wowed by the panoramas along the next section that provides spectacular views of Mt Sonder’s east face and the northern side of the range.

Soon after is a sharp climb up to ‘Hilltop Lookout’ which provides your final elevated views of the Red Centre and the 360 degree landscape around you. From the top its a short but sharp, knee knocking descent back to the plains with the past of the big hills conquered for the week.

From here to the finish runners will be gunning for home along a flat, and sometimes sandy trail that crosses back over the Finke River and along the final stretches to the finish line at the Glen Helen Resort on the banks of the Finke River.

Cross the finish line and collapse after an incredible week or - head to the water hole for a swim or - the bar for very well earned drink. Either way – you’ve done it!!

Congratulations, you’ve just completed the Namatjira at the Run Larapinta Stage Race!

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section number 11 plus a bit at the end.
Section 11 details on the Larapinta Trail website (including maps, trail notes and more).





Click here to download a GPS file for all courses that you can import into your own device.

This link downloads a KML file to your phone / computer that can be used to help navigate the course during racing. It can be used on your GPS watch or mapping app on your phone (click here for instructions how to download this to your phone and use it on the free mapping app MapsMe - our recommended app!).


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