Alice Springs Uluru and Adelaide
An Alice Springs road trip is a must do for all travellers. Delving into the Australian heartland, exploring the Outback and ticking off some of the great sights - Uluru aka Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. You'll need at least 10 days to complete this adventure - although you could easily spend all that time exploring the Kata Tjuta National Park itself.
Alice Springs to Adelaide
Best Time of the Year
April to November
- Alice Springs Desert Park
- Kings Canyon Rim Walk
- Kata Tjuta
Distance 5km - Driving Time 1 hour
We arrived to Alice Springs by air from Adelaide and before we even touched down we could see that the landscape had seriously changed so we knew we definitely weren’t in Adelaide anymore. We were so stoked to arrive in the Red Centre. We picked up our camper from the Britz office and after a quick and easy run through of all the components of our camper, we headed off to get some groceries and set ourselves up to live in our camper for our 10 day trip. After that we checked out Anzac Hill and the incredible views of the MacDonnell Ranges as the sun was setting. We were off to a great start.
Alice Springs to Ormiston Gorge
Distance 140km - Driving Time 2 hours
After making a quick breakfast in our camper, we headed in to Alice Springs to grab a quick coffee and have a stroll around the town centre. Next we headed out to the Alice Springs Desert Park to check out all the wildlife we might encounter over the next few days of our trip. Their bird show was amazing! Finally we headed out towards the MacDonnell Ranges to set up camp under the stars for the night.
Ormiston Gorge to Erlunda Roadhouse
Distance 330km - Driving Time 4.5 hours
Waking up when the sun came through the windows to the sounds of the desert wildlife and birds was amazing. We made a quick breakfast of porridge, fruit and coffee and headed out on foot to check out Ormiston Gorge. The views were breath-taking. We stopped off at Ellery Creek Big Hole and Brian couldn’t resist going for a swim in the midday desert heat. Next we were bound for Erlunda and we couldn’t wait to get on the famous Stuart Highway. We had a quick pit stop at the famous Stuart’s Well roadhouse for a bathroom break and a look at the resident Emu’s. When we arrived at Erlunda Roadhouse we managed to catch sunset with the locals, the roadhouse’s kangaroos and emus.
Erlunda Roadhouse to Curtin Springs
Distance 500km - Driving Time 7 hours
We started to realise just how vast the Outback is and with a long distance of driving ahead of us, we made an early start as we wanted to get to King’s Canyon and fit in the rim walk too. The canyon blew us away and the views around the rim walk were incredible. We ended up spending a little too long there taking too many photos and had to drive a bit of the way to our planned stop at Curtin Springs in dusk. Not advisable on the Outback roads but we did see a dingo.
Curtin Springs to Yulara
Distance 135km - Driving Time 2 hours
As we wanted to maximise our time in the Uluru area, we decided to set off early from Curtin Springs. We weren’t fooled by Mt Conner as it wasn’t visible on the drive in the night before so we were really excited to see Uluru come into view the closer we got. We checked in the campsite in Yulara and headed into the national park to check out Kata Tjuta and the Valley of the Winds walk. The sheer size of the rocks was incredible. We finished the walk in time to see the sunset over Kata Tjuta.
Distance 125km - Driving Time 1.75 hours
It was a very early start to see the sunrise over Kata Tjuta. The views were incredible with the sun hitting the rocks and slowly turning them from dark to orange to red. With Uluru in the distance the sunrise blew us away. We headed back to Yulara to grab some much needed coffee. After being up this early we managed to catch the free guided mala walk at the base of Uluru. We saw some ancient rock paintings and learned a lot about the importance of Uluru in Aboriginal creation stories from our guide. Then we checked out the Uluru Cultural Centre where we learned so much about the local Anangu people. It was really interesting to learn more about the history and cultural symbolism of the area. Then it was off the see the sunset over Uluru. Wow! Feeling elated, that evening we checked out some live roots music in the Outback Pioneer Kitchen.
Yulara to Curtin Springs
Distance 125km - Driving Time 2 hours
Today was another early start to catch the sunrise over Uluru. Another epic sun up! After checking this out we chose to walk all around Uluru. The hike to the top was open but out of respect for the local Anangu people’s wishes, we chose to walk around instead. This was quite interesting with the Mutijulu water hole being the highlight of the base walk. Then we headed on the Curtin Springs to set up camp for the night.
Curtin Springs to Coober Pedy
Distance 648km - Driving Time 7.25 hours
This was our longest day of driving on the whole trip and we really started to get a feel for the sheer size of Australia! We had a flight to catch from Adelaide to Perth so we had to make up for the extra time we chose to spend in Uluru. There was nothing much to see along the way except for a cheesy picture opportunity at Kulgera Roadhouse and the monument marking the Northern Territory / South Australia border. We stopped for the obligatory picture and to make some lunch and got back on the road. We spotted the dingo fence on our way into Coober Pedy and when we started to see mounds of white earth dotted around the landscape we knew we had arrived into the mining town.
Coober Pedy to Port Augusta
Distance 542km - Driving Time 5.5 hours
Another a long day of driving ahead of us again we woke up early to check out Coober Pedy, a town famous for opal mining. Here it can reach temperatures of 50 degrees C and up in summer so locals have carved out homes into the ground. We checked out a couple of underground churches, the big winch and a mining museum. Coober Pedy is quite a quirky place and even has an old spaceship in the centre of town left behind from a movie set! We hit the road and passed through Glendambo which apparently has a population of 30 and a quick detour into Woomera to check out the restricted area, we made it to Port Augusta after dark.
Port Augusta to Adelaide
Distance 334km - Driving Time 4 hours
After a quick breakfast in our van, we headed for the Clare Valley where we checked out the Sevenhill winery, the only remaining Jesuit-owned winery in Australia. We even got to try some altar wine. After this we were bound for Adelaide to hand back our van and catch our flight to Western Australia’s capital, Perth.
Road Trip Highlights
Where the best view was? King’s Canyon Rim Walk
Where you stopped for a picnic? Right in front of Uluru!
Where was your favourite place/town visited and why? Yulara and the whole Uluru area. We just felt we were really in the Red Centre here and we loved the spirituality associated with the centre point of Australia.
What was your favourite experience/activity & why? We really loved watching the sunrise over Kata Tjuta. For us, we could see Uluru shadowed in the distance as well and having never seen any pictures of Kata Tjuta or really knowing much about it before it felt a little more special.
Top highlights? Sunrise and sunset at both Uluru and Kata Tjuta and the King’s canyon rim walk.
Best café for coffee? Red Dog Café Alice Springs
Favourite pub/restaurant? Outback Pioneer Kitchen Yulara
Did you have a favourite Holiday Park you stayed in and why? Ayer’s Rock campground was a favourite of ours - because of the location we spent the most time here.
What would be your top tip for other campervan travellers – piece of advice e.g. what to pack, driver tip, where to go, what to see, how to plan your trip? We would definitely advise allowing plenty of time to get from A to B, distances in Australia can be huge and you want to be able to stop for photos, to have coffee and a break too! Fill up the fuel tank whenever you pass a petrol station or roadhouse – you don’t want to run out of fuel in the Outback! Allow time for rest as the driving can be tiring. Bring some music on a USB as radio and signal dropped out in the Outback and it would have been a long 8 hours drive without some road trip tunes!
What is your greatest memory of the whole campervan holiday? Definitely has to be Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Seeing those rock formations at all different points of the day and from so many different vantage points was unforgettable.
All images courtesy of Brian and Noelle at Wandering On.