Hands down the biggest tourist attraction in the Northern Territory, not to mention one of the most popular in Australia, the route from Alice Springs to Uluru draws hundreds of thousands of travellers every year, on their pilgrimage to the sights at Uluru. Its location in the very heart of Australia’s Red Centre adds to its charm, making it a quintessential Aussie road trip.
For the full Uluru experience, flying into nearby Alice Springs and picking up a campervan is the way to go! The drive between Alice Springs and Uluru is an absolute must-do, taking travellers through the heart of the country. And it’s not a long one, either - the one-way trip from Alice Springs to Uluru is just 450km/5.5 hours on fully-sealed roads. We offer a range of rental vehicles including campervans, motorhomes and a selection of 4wd rentals in Alice Springs, so travellers can rely on to get them wherever they’re going in comfort and style and it is the perfect location for a fly-drive campervan holiday. A return trip from Alice to Uluru will afford you plenty of time to see the sights of the Red Centre and gives you plenty of things to fill up your Alice Springs to Uluru itinerary.
Image: Tourism Australia/NTCB
CAMEL RIDES, STUARTS WELL
Once you’ve picked up your camper, head south out of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway for an hour before arriving at Stuarts Well Roadhouse and Caravan Park and Camels Australia. The perfect spot for refuelling - both yourself and your vehicle - and jumping aboard a camel if you feel up to it- affectionately known as the ‘ships of the desert’. Ride options range from a quick ride in a fenced paddock to 30 or 60 minute trek for the more experienced cameleers.
Five minutes’ past Stuarts Well, you’ll pass the Cannonball Run Monument - a timely reminder to drive safely on Northern Territory roads at all times, no matter what the speed limit is. The monument commemorates four people (two officials and two drivers) who were killed during the ‘Canonball Run’ car race of 1994, due to ‘excessive speed’.
At the Lasseter Highway turn-off, where you start heading west towards Uluru, is Erldunda Roadhouse - another prime example of an outback roadhouse located in ‘The Centre Of The Centre’. The Roadhouse is more than just a roadhouse, showcasing Northern Territory hospitality, cold drinks, and some local wildlife including rescued kangaroos and emus. If you want to stay overnight, Erlunda Roadhouse offers old-fashioned country-style motel units or drive-through caravan and camping sites with a pool to relax after a day exploring. The perfect end to a day here is by watching a beautiful sunset from the Roadhouse’s sunset viewing platform (or sunrise if you are up for an early start).
KINGS CREEK STATION
After travelling west for 110 km/1.5 hours on the Lasseter Highway, take Luritja Road north towards Kings Creek and Kings Canyon. This is a fairly significant detour off the road to Uluru but it’s absolutely worthwhile. In fact, you could easily add an extra day or two to your trip to truly explore this area if you have the time.
You’ll come upon Kings Creek Station 127 km up Luritja Road. Kings Creek Station is an impressive outback oasis, offering all types of accommodation from bush camping to ‘glamping’ experiences. It is also a working cattle and camel farm. You could take a helicopter ride over the spectacular landscape, take a quad bike tour of the property, and finish with a camel burger for dinner!
Just down the road from Kings Creek is Kings Canyon - a natural wonder located in Watarrka National Park. The canyon was forged more than 400 million years ago and rises 270m above sea level. There are many fantastic walks in the area, including the Rim Walk around the rim of the canyon. This 6km circuit offers 360-degree views of the canyon and is a relatively easy walk, once you get up the 500 steps at the start (definitely the most difficult part!). Once you’ve had your fill here, head out to Kings Canyon Resort, which offers bush camping as well as luxury accommodation for those who prefer it.
MT CONNOR LOOKOUT
Once you’ve explored the Watarka area, head the 166km/2.25hr south back to the Lasseter Highway (Red Centre Way). Now you’ll head west towards Uluru, however, along the way you’ll see another monolithic rock rising up from the horizon. This is Mt Connor - often mistaken for Uluru - and you can admire it from the Mt Connor Lookout, 30km west of the Luritja Road intersection - well worth the stop! There are also some impressive salt pans in this area, also visible from the lookout.
Only an hour (108km) past the lookout, you’ll arrive in Yulara - Uluru’s main service town and the closest you can stay to ‘The Rock’ and the national park. Yulara is a buzzing little place with a variety of shops, service providers and a large range of accommodation. Uluru is a 30-minute/25km drive from Yulara and, like all Territory national parks, you will require a permit to enter the park.
Heading out to the rock at sunset should be your first port of call when you arrive in the area - watching the sun set around the rock is a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
From there, you can plan your visit/s to Uluru - whether it’s a solo drive and hike, taking part in a commercial tour, a free ranger-guided tour, or maybe even a bike ride around the rock itself.
Image: Wandering On
Located a 40-minute/53km drive from Yulara, Kata Tjuta is another must-see in the area. Kata Tjuta is a series of striking rock formations, 500 million years in the making, which rise out of the ancient landscape. The Valley of the Winds walk, around the base of the rocks, is a must-do.
Once you’ve experienced everything this spectacular ancient landscape has to offer, it’s time to head back to Alice Springs and drop off of your campervan or, alternatively, hit the road to your next destination.
Looking for an additional itinerary around Alice Springs then check out The Red Centre Roadtrip.