The East coast of Australia is not the only place where you can take an unforgettable road trip, you know. In fact, the Land Down Under is so vast that you can find adventure and beauty anywhere you go, and the challenging Adelaide to Darwin stretch is laden with both. This one is not for the faint of heart, though, as covering more than 3,027 km (1,881 miles) is not an easy task. With several days’ worth of travel and numerous exciting destinations along the way, now’s the time to grab your free transfer car and head out to an Aussie adventure of a lifetime.
Adelaide to Flinders Ranges
Starting from Adelaide, you’re going to take the A1 north towards Port Augusta, but instead of crossing the bridge and joining the A87 motorway, you’re going to take a little side quest and head northeast along the B83 motorway instead towards Flinders Ranges. Why should you do this, you ask?
Because Flinders Ranges is located in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, an absolute gem in South Australia your nature-loving persona wouldn’t want to miss. Plus, the detour will definitely pay off in a number of ways, as you can ride the historic Pichi Pichi Railway aboard the century-old steam train nicknamed the Coffee Pot, enjoy a fresh feral mixed grill dish, and spend the night under the stars at Arkaba Station overlooking Wilpena Pound.
Flinders Ranges to Coober Pedy
Okay, time to backtrack a bit to Port Augusta, and take the A87 all the way to Coober Pedy, making sure you take a quick detour to visit Lake Gairdner National Park along the way. Here you want to take a moment to revel in the beauty of the salt lakes expanding from east to west, and maybe even visit some of the sacred sites of the Kokatha people.
Once in Coober Pedy, take a few hours to rest and recuperate, enjoy a local meal, refuel, and maybe even visit Lake Cadibarrawirracanna to the east or the Breakaways Conservation Park some 30 kilometres up north.
Coober Pedy to Uluru and Alice Springs
Once you’re ready to hit the road again, you can plot your route to Uluru, some 750 kilometres north along the A87 motorway. Instead of continuing straight to Alice Springs, turn left at the Erldunda Roadhouse and make your way to the iconic Uluru sandstone rock formation that has graced many famous Australian postcards.
Once you’ve taken in the sights (don’t try to climb Uluru, be respectful of the local culture) you can head back on the road towards Alice Springs. Once there, you can leave the car to rest for the night and enjoy hiking along the Larapinta Trail, visit the West MacDonnell National Park and explore the town itself. Don’t forget to visit the Kangaroo Sanctuary.
Alice Springs to Devil’s Marbles and Mataranka
Not a five-hour drive north, the Devil’s Marbles Conservation Reserve awaits – a place of great cultural and spiritual importance to the Aboriginal people that used to own the land. The reserve aims to protect one of the oldest religious sites in the world, along with the iconic rock formations the Aborigines call “Karlu Karlu”. So snap a few photos and move along towards Mataranka.
About half-way to Mataranka, you can make a stop at the Lake Woods Conservation Covenant and take a leisurely stroll to the lake itself. Once in Mataranka, you can take a breather and visit the Elsey National Park and the Roper River. You can also spend the night at one of the local cottages in the town.
Kakadu National Park and then finally Darwin
Moving along on that final stretch to Darwin, you want to make a few stops here and there to explore the natural wonders of the surrounding National Parks, and maybe even enjoy the local cuisine in one of the quaint towns along the road. Be sure to visit the Kakadu and Nitmiluk National Parks to the east, and the Litchfield National Park to the west before rolling into Darwin. When you reach Darwin, you can park the car and spend a couple of days exploring the historic outpost and its thriving city culture. Enjoy museums and galleries, artisan pubs and restaurants, and much more.
The perfect Australian road trip doesn’t have to begin or end with the popular east coast, as there are hundreds of natural and urban beauties waiting for you along the roads permeating the central outback. What’s more, by taking a free transfer car or campervan you will be able to cover this grand stretch efficiently and pave the road to an Aussie adventure of a lifetime.