The Namatjira Stage Descriptions

The courses for the April vs the August events are quite similar: Stage 1 and 2 are the same but stages 3 and 4 are different. The description of both events is detailed below.

APRIL 2022 Namatjira Stages – Short Course Summary:

  • Stage 1: 12km around Alice Springs > to the Old Telegraph Station.
  • Stage 2: 22km from The Old Hamilton Downs Station > to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 3: 22.4km Birthday Waterhole > to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 4: 26km from Counts Point turn off > to Ellery Creek Water Hole.

AUGUST 2022 Namatjira Stages – Short Course Summary:

Entries to the August event have SOLD OUT – entry wait list enacted.

August event incorporates a stay at the Glen Helen Outback Lodge for Day 3 and 4

  • Stage 1: 12km around Alice Springs > to the Old Telegraph Station.
  • Stage 2: 22km from The Old Hamilton Downs Station > to Standley Chasm.
  • Stage 322km Glen Helen > to Ormiston Gorge (stay at Glen Helen)
  • Stage 4: 31km Redbank Gorge > to Glen Helen (stay at Glen Helen)

The Namatjira – STAGE 1 – April AND August

Date:APRIL: Friday 22 April, 2022
AUGUST: Friday 12 August, 2022
Start location: 1km north of Mercure Hotel in Alice Springs
Finish location:Old Telegraph Station in Alice Springs
Length:12km. Elevation: 130m up and 130m down
Start time:6:00pm
Water point:Approx 6.5km pt
Cut off times:Start Time + 1hr30 at the water point (~6.5km pt)
Difficulty rating:Easy/Medium

Runners start just before sunset and then run through twilight and into darkness for the unique experience of running through the desert at night time, under a universe of stars and the outback world around you. All runners must start with a head torch that you can turn on when darkness descends (at 6:15pm).

The course follows a scenic route around the perimeter of Alice Springs on some of the running and MTB trails that surround the town and finishes in the grass parklands of the Old Telegraph Station where the finish chute it lined by hisoric Ghost Gums.

These trails are not overly technical (with the exception of a couple of short sections), but they do have a great sense of ‘flow’ and will provide a terrific introduction to the Central Australian terrain you’ll enjoy over days to come.

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

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(with the exception of a couple of short sections), have a great sense of flow and will provide a terrific introduction to the Central Australian terrain you’ll enjoy over days to come.


  • Alternate Stage 1 Map View in JPEG – Click Here

Please note, Stage 1 of the Malbunka and the Namatjira are not on much of the actual Larapinta Trail but alternative trails that provide a terrific introduction close to Alice Springs. 

The Namatjira – STAGE 2 – April AND August

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

Date:APRIL: Saturday 23 April, 2022
AUGUST: Saturday 13 August, 2022
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:22km. Elevation: 600m up and 525m down
Start time:08:00
Water point:400m south of Fish Hole at the 6.5km point. Runners must depart with a minimum of 3lt water with you. 
Cut off times:Start Time + 4hrs at the Fish Hole water point
Difficulty rating:Hard – steep and technical terrain

Namatjira runners will start at the Old Hamilton Downs station homestead on the northern side of the range and then run ~6km along an easy 4WD track to join the Larapinta Trail at Jay Creek and the water point at 6.5km pt.

From here on the trail is a lot harder with some very technical running over rough and very rocky ground as the course climbs to the top of the Chewings Range ridge line – providing some incredible views across Central Australia and the MacDonnell Ranges. Descending into valley the trail continues to undulate and remains rocky as you run, walk and scramble along the valley that ultimately leads to the finish at the Standley Chasm café.

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.

This stage uses Larapinta Trail section number 3:


The Namatjira – STAGE 3 – APRIL only

This is a new stage over a very rugged and spectacular section of the Larapinta Trail, in some ways similar to stage 2 (but a little bit easier).

Date:APRIL only: Sunday 24 April, 2022
Start location:Birthday Waterhole track – 1hr drive from Alice Springs (last 10km 4WD only)
Finish location: Standley Chasm – 45mins drive from Alice Springs
Length:22.4km. Elevation: 760m up and 680m down
Start time:07:30 and 08:15 (tbc)
Water point:4km – Birthday Creek Waterhole
Cut off times:NA
Difficulty rating:Medium / Hard – steep and remote terrain

April Stage 3 runners start on the Birthday Waterhole Track, 10km in from the junction with the Red Centre Way (where the long course runners start). Runners commence with 4km of easy running along the 4WD track to the waterpoint at the Birthday Creek Waterhole.

Past the water point the course picks up the Larapinta Trail and skirts the base of some ridges before a very steep and tough climb up to the iconic Brinkley Bluff – the course climbing 550m in just 3km as it zig-zags its way up the side of this steep ridge, passing many false summits and steep drops on the way up. The views from the top make it well worth it as you are high up in the Chewings Ranges with views across the continent.

From the summit it is largely ‘all downhill’ for 10km to the finish line at the Standley Chasm café although the highly technical terrain and loose rock remains that makes it a taxing descent through Reveal Saddle and finish arch.


  • Alternate Stage 3 April Map View in JPEG – Click Here

The Namatjira  STAGE 4 – APRIL only

This new Stage 4 covers some great terrain, visiting one of the MacDonnell Ranges’ favourite lookouts before finishing at its favourite waterhole for a swim.

Date:APRIL only: Monday 25 April, 2022
Start location:Counts Point track – 1hr drive from Alice Springs
Finish location:Ellery Creek Waterhole – 1h drive from Alice Springs
Length:26km. Elevation: 730m up and 800m down
Water point:13.5km pt at Serpentine Gorge
Race start:07:30
Cut off times:Start time + 4hrs Serpentine Gorge water point 15.5km pt
Difficulty rating: Medium

April Stage 4: Runners commence with 3.5km along an easy 4WD track to join the Larapinta Trail as it climbs steeply up the ridge to the spectacular Counts Point lookout on the main ridgeline (runners complete a short 700m out and back to visit the iconic lookout and get their name ticked off.)

The spectacular running continues along the ridgeline and then drops down to water point at Serpentine Gorge at ~15.5km and continues along the undulating trail below the ridgeline to the ultimate finish line at the Ellery Creek Waterhole. This last section between the water point and the finish is very rocky, sharp and harsh, runners must keep concentrating all ther way to the finish.

We will have a ‘beach party’ style set up at the waterhole with chairs, shade, music, food and drinks – and of course the magnificent waterhole to swim in – to help celebrate the end of the now 2022 Run Larapinta – April Event. It will be a finish line to remember!


  • Alternate Stage 4 April Map View in JPEG – Click Here

The Namatjira – STAGE 3 – AUGUST only

Stage 3 is a little longer than Stage 2 but easier on the knees and the ankles as the trail is generally less technical..

Competitors are bused to the Start Line. The race moves HQ to Glen Helen.

Date:AUGUST only: Sunday 14 August, 2022
Start location:Glen Helen outback lodge – 1hr 20mins drive from Alice Springs
Finish location: Ormiston Gorge car park – 10mins from Glen Helen or 1hr 25mins drive from Alice Springs
Length:22km. Elevation: 530m up and 490m down
Start time:08:15am
Water point:WP1 at Ormiston Gorge (13.4km pt)
Runners must start with min 750ml hydration.
Cut off times:NA
Difficulty rating:Medium

The August Stage 3 course is very different to the Malbunka course and is described below. Both the Namatjira and the Malbunka share the same finish line at the Ormiston Gorge Visitor Centre.

Starting from the Glen Helen Lodge runners commence up the sealed side road, turn left onto the Namatjira Drive for 500m and then turn right to start on the single track just after the river crossing. Follow the marked trail until it joins the Larapinta Trail at Glen Helen Junction and turn right, crossing over the Finke River and continuing on the single track to the Ormiston Gorge car park and water point at the 13km mark (this is the same location as the finish line).

After refilling at the water point Namatjira runners must be careful to follow the Rapid Ascent course markings to commence the Ormiston Pound loop walk in an anti-clockwise direction. This track 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 Ormiston Pound Loop Walk is marked with similar National Parks style track markings (different colour).

The trail through the pound is very well marked and considerably rockier and more technical than the first 13km as you climb up and then descend into the gorge itself. As runners approach the gorge proper, runners keep right to climb a short steep route to the Ghost Gum lookout before a nice gradual descent to the finish line back in the Ormiston Gorge Car Park.


  • Alternate Stage 3 August Map View in JPEG – Map A – Click Here
  • Alternate Stage 3 August Map View in JPEG – Map B – Click Here

The Namatjira  STAGE 4 – AUGUST only

The final stage is 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 outback lodge in the mighty Finke River

Date:AUGUST only: Monday 15 August, 2022
Start location:Redbank Gorge – 25mins from Glen Helen or 1hr 45mins drive from Alice Springs
Finish location:Glen Helen outback lodge – 1h 20mins drive from Alice Springs
Length:31km. Elevation: 600m up and 660m down
Water point:13km pt at Rocky Bar Gap
Race start:07:00
Cut off times:Start time + 4hrs45 at Rocky Bar Gap at 13km water pt
Difficulty rating: Medium

August Stage 4 runners commence in an easterly direction along the Larapinta Trail. The trail skirts the south flank of Mt Sonder and makes for good running through to WP2 at Rocky Bar Gap (13km pt) where we will have a marshal, water and vehicle. Approximately 3km after WP1 is a sharp climb up to ‘Hilltop Lookout’ for views of the spectacular surroundings. After the summit is a steep switch-back descent back to the plains along a pretty flat and sometimes sandy trail heading south east.

At the Glen Helen Junction at the 26km point runners turn right to follow the marked trail to the sealed Namatjira Drive and then follow the Rapid Ascent course arrows down the sealed road to Glen Helen and then around the front of the lodges to the finish line in front of the Glen Helen homestead on the banks of the Finke River.

Cross the finish line and collapse after an incredible 4 days of running or head to the water hole for a swim or to the bar for very well earned drink! Either way, you’ve just completed the August 2022 Run Larapinta Stage Race – CONGRATULATIONS!


  • Alternate Stage 4 August Map View in JPEG – Click Here


Run Larapinta GPS course downloads to import into your phone:

(We have provided 3 different file types because different devices and apps seem to require different file types. KMZ files seem to work best on iPhones, KML on Android (but sometimes its the other way around ?!) so try the various types until you get the course route in the 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!).

ITRA pts  /  UTMB qualifying race

2021: The Run Larapinta – Malbunka stage race is registered with the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) and will provide successful runners with ITRA points (to help runners qualify for large international races), and UTMB points as an official qualifying race for this iconic event::

Malbunka – 4 stage finisher receives:

  • ITRA rating: 3 Endurance Points, 3 Mountain Points and Finisher Rating of 250.
  • UTMB points: 3 Points (new system).

For further information on what the ITRA points mean click here and for more information on the UTMB (Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc) click here.