The story behind our Larapinta campsites
If you’ve ever embarked on our Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort, you’ll know that our three semi-permanent Larapinta campsites are uniquely named Charlie’s Camp, Nick’s Camp and Camp Fearless. But did you know that these campsites are named in honour of three very special and influential people? These three people each played a significant role in the development of our domestic trips along the Larapinta Trail, as well as in our parent business, World Expeditions. Their histories, stories and values are deeply embedded into the campsite that bears their name, and we proudly recognise their passionate contribution to our most popular domestic trip.
A brief history…
The World Expeditions’ semi-permanent campsites on the Larapinta Trail are a sustainable and comfortable solution to accommodate trekkers in the beautiful outback environment. These award winning campsites allow walkers to be fully immersed in a back-to-nature experience without forgoing the creature comforts. Importantly, they also demonstrate the success of long term partnerships with indigenous communities and they enhance a cultural and environmental experience along the trail in an eco-friendly way.
Our Larapinta permanent campsite project, from the start, has been a fusion of visions, with some very personal journeys that we would like to share with you.
Charlie Holmes was one of World Expedition’s much loved guides and one of the travel industry’s most experienced and successful small group adventure leaders. Charlie had enjoyed a successful family and business life before his love of trekking brought him to World Expeditions in 1991.
Back in 1995, he first floated the idea of creating a bushwalking trip along the Larapinta Trail to the Australian Operations team of World Expeditions. Charlie was totally inspired by the West MacDonnell ranges and used this passion to help craft various itineraries along the Larapinta Trail.
When the first commercial treks on the Larapinta Trail were launched in 1996, it was a natural choice that veteran trekking guide and dear friend, Charlie, would be the man to lead the new treks. Charlie began working with guide, Jill Kleiner, in 1997.
From the outset, our travellers’ response to this wonderful new adventure was proof that we were on to something great. Charlie’s enthusiasm for the Larapinta Trail was insatiable – he locally co-ordinated all the logistics and operations, led expeditions almost weekly during the season and refined the program to become the World Expeditions signature trip in Australia.
Charlie’s approach to travel was an extension of his approach to life. He was passionate about the world we live in, energetic and caring towards those in his charge, and an innovator and an inspiration to those with whom he worked. Charlie carried a happy energy with him everywhere. With his trademark “bandana” in place and ear-to-ear smile, Charlie mentored and trained many apprentice guides for World Expeditions, as well as leading treks on the Larapinta Trail almost up to the time when he lost his battle to cancer in 2007.
Charlie’s Camp is in recognition of the late Charlie Holmes, for the very salient part he played in our Larapinta operations and we proudly name the camp close to Serpentine Gorge’ Charlie’s Camp’ to commemorate and honour his legacy.
In 2005, we began the Larapinta Semi-Permanent Campsites project, believing that the Larapinta could become a globally significant trekking destination. We wanted the camping accommodation to be as unique and recognisable as the Larapinta Trail itself. The challenge was to ensure that guests felt part of the land, that the camping experience was enhanced and that the fusion of the two wove its magic so that trekkers would be transformed by the ambiance of the camps.
World Expeditions’s Sydney office was located next door to the offices of architect Nick Murcutt. When we invited the talented Nick to be involved in the design and he enthusiastically embraced the challenge. Alongside his partner and fellow architect, Rachel Neeson, Nick began a design process that had its final outcome 8 years later in the creation of our back to nature camps. Nick and Rachel drew upon a variety of inspirations including the Aboriginal sleeping platforms of Arnhem Land, with their raised platforms and shady all-weather canopy covers. They also drew on the desert design of Bedouin Nomads and their tents. The design encompasses cutting-edge materials and technology, from the stretch-structures canopy to the precision engineering of the aluminium sub-floor frame.
Remote campsites also require a bit of “Territory know-how” and the composting toilets, low-water-usage showers and grey water treatment systems are all examples of practical, effective and environmentally sustainable design.
Sadly, Nick was not able to see the end product, with his very sad passing in 2011, but we are so sincerely grateful to Nick and to Rachel for their ingenuity and creativity in developing these campsites. Our Ti Tree camp was named Nick’s camp to honour Nick’s passion for nature walking and the contribution he made to what are now award-winning campsites.
Launched in May 2016, Fearless Camp is nestled at the foot of Mt Sonder and is named in honour of trekking guide and renowned Australian mountaineer, Sue Fear.
Sue joined the adventure travel industry shortly after leaving school on Sydney’s North Shore, originally in an office role. Being an outdoor enthusiast, she moved out of the office and into the field, starting her career in leading cross country ski trips in Australia, and later guiding mountain expeditions in South America, Africa and the Himalaya. In the decade spanning 1996 to 2006, she embarked on her own quest to climb the world’s 8,000m mountains and quickly became recognised as one of Australia’s leading mountaineers.
Sue died on Sunday, 28th May, 2006 whilst descending from the summit of Mount Manaslu in Nepal. Manaslu was Sue’s fifth climb of a mountain over 8000 metres – others being Gasherbrum II in 2004, Everest in 2003, Shishapangma in 2002 and Cho Oyu in 1998.
Sue was an inspiring individual. Her energy, courage and innate sense of purpose were recognizable in every aspect of how she conducted her life. She was also a sincere, kind and immensely generous person. Sue made a huge contribution to Australian mountaineering and paved the way for females in what was traditionally a male-dominated sport. Many a time, travellers would return from a trip led by Sue, in awe of her ardent interest in helping others to achieve their outdoor pursuits.
The Larapinta Trail was a special place in Sue’s trip leading history. She spent two seasons guiding World Expeditions trekkers along the ancient West MacDonnell Ranges. She loved the land and being in Australia’s outback.
Camp Fearless is a tribute to Sue’s passion, drive and enthusiasm for mountain climbing and guiding.
Visit our exclusive campsites on the Larapinta Trail on the Classic Larapinta Trek in Comfort to get a unique perspective of both the land and the people behind World Expeditions.