Setting off from Adelaide with the aim to drive to Darwin, Adam and I began our road trip through the ‘red centre’ of Australia. We had no time limit for how long the trip should take us, we just took each day as it came, deciding there and then whether to carry on or spend an extra night in places we stopped. I didn’t feel rushed at all, but you could certainly be more relaxed and spend longer doing the trip. I’ll give more detail on some of the stops in future posts, but below is our itinerary to give you an idea of the places to stop and time taken to do the trip.
In terms of where we camped, all spots were found through Wikicamps and we always made our decisions based on reviews, facilities and cost! We spent around $1000 each on all food, petrol and accommodation.
Adelaide > Port Parham
Spending the morning in Adelaide and visiting Mt Lofty before we left, meant we didn’t travel very far on the first day. Port Parham was just a nice little remote spot we found through Wikicamps, with a gorgeous sunset over the beach to end our first night.
Port Parham > Port Augusta > Pimba
Day two and we headed to Port Augusta for the day, stopping at the outback centre museum, water tower lookout and the arid lands botanic gardens. That night we headed past Port Augusta in search of a free spot to stay, and spent a very windy night in our tent in the Pimba roadhouse car park.
Pimba > Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy was one of the highlights of the red centre for me, and we spent two nights / three days here. Driving via Woomera to check out the missiles first, we then headed on to Coober Pedy and spent a few days checking out the underground museums, houses and stayed in a beautiful AirBnb. More to come on this in a future post, but this is definitely a town thats worth spending a few days in if you can.
Coober Pedy > Uluru
Probably the most famous of the red centre drive, we next headed on for a trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). We spent a night in a campsite on the way here to break up the drive, and after that spent two days exploring these beautiful sites, enjoying cycling, walking trails and viewing the spectacular Uluru by sunrise and sunset. We felt two days was enough for us, but you could quite easily spend more time here if you wish.
Uluru > Kings Canyon
The lesser known Kings Canyon is a few hours drive from Uluru, heading back towards Stuart Highway. We did the rim walk and I honestly thought this was absolutely amazing. Could not recommend it enough! Honestly, I thought it was more impressive than Uluru, but maybe that was down to it being an unexpected highlight for me, whereas there is so much hype around visiting Uluru.
Kings Canyon > Alice Springs
Getting back onto Stuart Highway the next day, we headed to Alice Springs for two nights. We went to a few museums and points of interest and stayed in a really cool converted bus in Alice’s Secret hostel, but overall I didn’t think much of the city itself. Nothing about it made me want to hang around for any longer.
Alice Springs > Devils Marbles > Banka Banka
Leaving Alice Springs things start to become few and far between, we spent two days driving and camping with stops at Barrow Creek pub, Wycliffe well pub and Devils Marbles. Even though there wasn’t much to see, I enjoyed these two days. A big part of a road trip is of course spending time on the road and it was nice spending some time chilling out each night after setting up camp early. Banka Banka was an insanely busy campsite, so get there early if you plan to stop here!
Banka Banka > Daly Waters
Daly Waters pub is a famous stop on the red centre route, so we made sure to find the time to spend a day here, after camping only a short drive away the night before. It was a fun experience and definitely worth the stop to check out all the cool memorabilia on the walls and grab one of their famous ‘barra n beef’ meals over the evening entertainment.
Daly Waters > Mataranka
Mataranka was an absolutely stunning place to stop, and we in fact spent an extra night here we loved it so much! Driving through you wouldn’t expect the town to have much, but there are two beautiful thermal pools – Mataranka Springs and Bitter Springs that you can easily spend a day at each. It was very relaxing and a great way to spend a few days.
Mataranka > Katherine > Edith Falls
Katherine was the next big city on our route, but we chose not to spend the night here. Passing through and taking the opportunity to stop at a rarely sighted chain supermarket on this road trip, we headed to Katherine Gorge for the day and went on a beautiful walk up the gorge to Baruwei lookout. Finishing that, we headed to Edith Falls to make the most of another opportunity to swim in more of beautiful natural swimming holes that the Top End has to offer.
Edith Falls > Darwin
Obviously at this end, many people would also visit Lichfield and Kakadu, but as we intended to be in Darwin for a few months, we chose to save those trips for a later date. Seventeen days after setting off from Adelaide, we arrived in Darwin excited to check out what it had to offer.