We spent one more night at Glen Helen after finishing the walk - celebrating with a melt-in-the-mouth eye fillet plus chocolate-chilli cheesecake for the fair Nello and raspberry pannacotta for me. Over a delicious meal is always a good way to reflect on moments enjoyed together, especially when accompanied by a nice drop of red.

Having our shearers' quarters bunkroom at Glen Helen as a base to come back to for our rest days was a big part of making this walk a success - we got to know the operators and their staff of mainly backpackers well, and the homestead had a great relaxed feel about it - good location, good atmosphere, good meals, good music. Thanks, Colin and Shelagh.

The Larapinta Trail had lived up to our expectations and had thrown in a few surprises as well. We had expected a demanding trail and we got a demanding trail - your ankles will emerge much stronger for having done it, your calves will ripple more and your aerobic fitness will be better - I even lost 4 kg on the track. The rewards for this effort though are immense. The arid landscapes are peerless and the track takes you through the full gamut, from rugged range to deep gorge, to open plain, rocky waterhole and sandy creek bed, on barren sharp-edged rocks, open grasslands and shady woodlands, it explores the habitats of the Macdonnell Ranges, wandering in and out of these unique environments to continually offer something new to the senses.

For us, the colours in particular were extraordinary - the rich reds of the quartzite simply glowed in the low morning and evening sunlight, while closer inspection of the outcrops revealed all the nuances of ochrous shades from white to pink to tan. The differences between range and foothill was also noticeable, with the white of dolomite and black of laterite cropping up in the latter.

We had been fortunate with our walk - of the 17 walking days, on 15 there was not cloud in the sky, not even a wisp, and the clarity and depth of blue was brilliant. In the day, this gave views stretching over 100 km and at night gave us brilliant displays of the southern stars. In fact, we were glad for the two days of cloud, which gave a slightly different ambience to the landscapes. The only price to pay for this was the string of very cold nights (from -1 to 3°), but our sleeping bags were up to the challenge and we slept toastily, if fitfully (I've never quite mastered the art of having a good sleep in a tent). We also ate well - our home-made dehydrated dinners cooked up well and kept the richness of flavours that we knew and liked. We looked forward to them at the end of each day.

We were also fortunate that this autumn had been wet in the centre - the flora had responded and we were greeted with a glorious, if unexpected, display of wildflowers along the walk. Many shrubs, including several species of wattle, hakeas, grevilleas, cassias and hopbushes were in bloom, and the ground cover was speckled at times with various shades of blue, red, white, yellow and pink of the many wildflowers of these ranges. It was simply a delight to have them there and, I suspect that it may have been even more impressive, if it were not for the engulfing carpet of the evil invader, buffel grass, in some areas - but enough said of that.

The other pleasant surprise was the bird life - flocks of finches and budgerigars, honyeaters, wrens and flycatchers and the occasional birds of prey - they were a pleasure to see and / or hear as you passed by. But where were the reptiles? We saw only a couple of lizards and no snakes in 17 days - maybe they are inactive over the winter months.

Mammals were equally rare, a couple of rock wallabies, a feral cow and a solitary dingo were all that we saw. Yet their traces were everywhere and the early morning dingo choir that serenaded us deep in a gorge was unforgettable. I suspect that the mammals prefer to keep to themselves.

There was one very common mammal of course, our fellow human trekkers. In the 17 days we crossed paths with 90 of them - some in big groups with Trek companies, many small groups and a few intrepid solo walkers. Some were just doing sections of the Trail and others, like us, walking end-to-end. All would agree that the Larapinta Trail has in a short 12 years become one of the great walking experiences in Australia, and in the world. For that, I finish by offering a word of thanks to NT Parks for providing the infrastructure to make it feasible, and to the rangers who maintain it and keep an eye on passing walkers. Thanks - you have a created a trail to be proud of and one that, for us, will remain unforgettable.