Driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs: The Ultimate Guide

We’ve been asked many times would we write a guide to driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs.

This is probably Australia’s most iconic roadtrip – especially if you add in a side trip to Uluru-Kata Tjuta.

It’s everything you imagine: freedom, a sense of isolation, intense personal reflection, wildlife, vast horizons and blue sky, quirky outback towns, roadhouses and characters.

Given that we’ve travelled this road dozens of times, we really had no excuse for not writing this guide.

So, here it is, our: Ultimate Guide to Driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs.


Quick Facts:

Total distance: 1503km

Recommended Driving Time: 16 hours – at least ONE overnight stop is recommended

Estimated Fuel Cost: $367 calculated at 11 litres per 100km, and a cost of $2.20 per litre for fuel.

Fuel, food, accommodation: Port Augusta, Pimba, Glendambo, Coober Pedy, Cadney, Marla, Kulgera, Erldunda, Stuart’s Well

Longest Stretch without fuel: 254km between Glendambo & Coober Pedy

Mobile Phone coverage: Partial Telstra only coverage – see detailed itinerary below.

Suitable for caravans/camper trailers: Yes

Safety Advice – Ignore at Your Own Peril

Whilst you’ll be driving on the Stuart Highway – an excellent and mainly straight road, you’re driving in the Australian outback for most of this journey, you’ll need to do a few simple things to stay safe:

  • Rest Frequently. Stop and get out of your car every 2 hours. Rest for at least 15 minutes before you start driving again. Take some photos. Have a loo break. Find a geocache
  • Beware of animals on the road – kangaroos, camels, emus and cattle. You will see them on this drive. Take note: the most common cause of tourist fatalities after heat exhaustion in the outback is hitting large animals.
  • Be VERY cautious when over taking roadtrains. These guys are sometimes 55 metres long. You will need a lot of room to overtake safely.
  • Water. Carry a minimum of 10 litres per person per day.
  • Do not drive at night. EVER. There are too many animals on these roads.

If you’re worried about breaking down, please read MY experience of breaking down on this road as a solo woman traveller.

How to Prepare For this Journey

Driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs is a long way. This can be a very tiring drive – especially if you drive too far in one day.

Having done this trip both together and solo, we have the following recommendations:

  • Make sure your car and your tyres are in good condition. Have your car serviced before you go
  • Carry basic tools & spare parts (fanbelts, spare tyres, radiator hoses, fuses) with you. They can save your life!
  • Learn how to change a tyre. Yes, ladies this means YOU, too
  • Make sure you understand the nature of this drive: VERY long stretches of road with no facilities and sometimes, not much to look at except endless horizon
  • Ward off fatigue and boredom by Geocaching, listening to an audiobook (Audible has a free trial), or stopping to take photographs along the way.

How to do this road trip :

Ideally, this trip is done at a leisurely pace, over 3 or 4 days.

Slow travel -with an emphasis on experience and enjoyment- is our travel philosophy.

We say this to you: SLOW DOWN. You will TRULY experience the outback deeply and more authentically than if you rush.

Camel-closeupSlow down!

Yes, you can do this trip overnight, or even in ONE long and very exhausting day.

But ask yourself this: will you enjoy it?

As experienced travellers of this road, we can tell you that those times when we’ve driven slowly and taken in all the sights and sounds of this iconic roadtrip are far more memorable than those times we’ve had to rush through this drive.

If you’re likely to only make this road trip once in your lifetime, then SLOW DOWN and enjoy the experience.

  • Leave Adelaide mid-to-late morning and plan to get to Port Augusta (300km)
  • Stay overnight in Port Augusta
  • Drive to Coober Pedy (537km) the next day
  • Stay 2 nights in Coober Pedy – there’s A LOT to see & do there
  • Drive to Alice Springs (684km) or Uluru (680km approx) the following day

There are a number of detours and side trips which we talk about in the itinerary below. Don’t be afraid to mix this journey up a bit – to go off and see Andamooka, Woomera or hang out at the bar in Kulgera Roadhouse.

Adelaide to Port Augusta

Distance: 306km

Fuel Available: Everywhere in Adelaide, then a number of places along the Port Wakefield Road/Princes Highway.

Travel time: 3.5 hours (allow more if the traffic getting out of Adelaide is bad)

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra reception is available all the way

This is probably going to be the slowest and the most frustrating part of the journey. There are times when I’ve left Adelaide city, and it seemed to take me hours just to get out of the city and suburbs.

To leave Adelaide, you’re looking to head north on Port Wakefield Road. This is also a national highway, the Princes Highway – also called ‘Highway 1’ in Australia.

The route is well signposted if you’re heading north out of the city centre. Just look for Port Wakefield Road and then stick to it.

Be careful when you get to the big intersection at a place called Gepp’s Cross, where the Port Wakefield Road intersects with Grand Junction Road. Go STRAIGHT ahead through this intersection, otherwise you’ll find yourself on the way to the Barossa Valley.

You now don’t need to turn off this road until you reach Port Augusta.

Heading north, you’ll come to a number of small towns, such as:

  • Port Wakefield itself (has a REALLY good bakery)
  • Lochiel (check the big, dry lake for the Loch Ness Monster)
  • Warnertown (slow down here – the police like to catch people speeding)

You’ll pass the turnoffs for the Yorke Peninsula (Kadina/Wallaroo), Port Pirie and the Flinders Ranges along the way as well.

Once you see the massive power plant in distance (not to be confused with the one at Port Pirie), you know that Port Augusta isn’t far away.

There are LOTS of places to stay in Port Augusta. I usually stay at the Shoreline Caravan Park in a cabin. However there’s a number of free camping places here as well.

Port Augusta to Pimba

Distance: 174km

Travel time: 1 hour 50 minutes (approx.)

Fuel available: Port Augusta & Pimba

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra reception is available all the way.

Free roadside campsites: North Tent Hill, Range View, Monalena Lagoon, Island Lagoon – find MORE free campsites here


This is where you really arrive in the outback. Drive through Port Augusta and look for the signs to Alice Springs and Darwin (go across the big bridge, and up a slight hill).

Turn right onto the Stuart Highway and say goodbye to traffic lights and bends. The next set of traffic lights you’ll see are at the intersection of the Stuart Highway and Larapinta Drive – 1200km away in Alice Springs!

The first part of the drive is through low, undulating hills, with lots of scrub around you. If you look over to your right, the hills you’ll see in the eastern distance are the Flinders Ranges.

For one last look at Spencer Gulf and the Flinders Ranges, stop at the Range View rest stop (61km km from Port Augusta). There’s also a toilet, water, tables & chairs, some good information signs and a geocache.

If you’re lucky, you should see quite a few emus on this part of the trip. Keep an eye out for them in spring especially, when you’ll see daddy emus with their chicks (the mums only lay the eggs, the dads care for the young.


Not long before you reach Pimba –and if you’re observant- look out to the left (west) and you might spot the remains of Nurrungar – a joint US-Australian ‘spy’ base. It looks like a few white golf balls in the distance.

The base closed in 1999 and is empty now, and there is a track going out to it and a lookout. I’ve never been out there, so I can’t say what the road is like.

A little further on you arrive at Pimba and Spud’s Roadhouse.

Pimba itself is pretty ugly to look at – a ramshackle collection of dilapidated houses with scarcely a tree in sight. However, you can get a meal and you can stay here.

Spuds Roadhouse, Pimba, South Australia

However, a more interesting (and attractive) place to visit and stay is located 6km up the road at Woomera. Turn right off the Stuart Highway and head past Spud’s Roadhouse/Pimba.

Woomera was established in 1947, for the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. This was a ‘cold-war’ project between the British and Australian governments, which developed and tested long-range weapons systems (read: they fired rockets into the middle of nowhere… lots of rockets).


Ironically, many Aboriginal people I’ve worked with in the west of the Northern Territory and into Western Australia remember being moved out of their traditional lands in the 1950s, 60s and even the early 70s, as rockets tested here at Woomera were fired into what were then considered ‘unpopulated’ areas of Australia.

These displaced Aboriginal people often spent decades trying to move back to their lands – some, like many Pintupi people, ended up dying at places like Papunya, or walked out to create new settlements at Mt Liebig (Watiyawanu) and Kintore (Walungurru), never returning to their traditional lands.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, please watch the DVD ‘Benny and the Dreamers’. It will make you cry with bittersweet tears.

Woomera town reminds me of a 1950s Canberra suburb, picked up and dropped in the middle of nowhere. It’s worth a visit to see some of the rockets and for the fascinating visitor’s centre, which has detailed displays on the weapons testing programs there.

There is accommodation at the Eldo Hotel and the Woomera Caravan Park.

An interesting side trip is to Roxby Downs and Andamooka – however, we recommend doing this as an overnight trip.

There’s enough to see around Roxby, Andamooka and Woomera to keep you busy for a day or so.

You could also go from Roxby Downs along the Borefield Track and then join the Oodnadatta Track and head up to Alice Springs that way.

Read more about the Oodnadatta Track here.

Pimba to Glendambo

Distance: 112km

Travelling Time: 45-50min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Pimba & Glendambo

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G reception is available all the way

Free roadside campsites: Use Wikicamps to find ALL of the free campsites

From Pimba, you’re travelling through some interesting country, dotted with salt lakes and the occasional lookout stop that just begs a photo.

There’s a few Geocaches scattered along this section which make the trip more interesting, too.

As you travel north, you’re going to pass by some stunning salt lakes. My tip is to take a break and grab some photos at Lake Hart (you can camp here, too).


This is also one section of the trip where emus are quite commonly seen – so be on the lookout for them.

After not quite an hour, you’ll reach Glendambo, a tiny little settlement just off the Stuart Highway.

I’ve stayed at Glendambo quite a few times over the years (most recently in January 2014).


There’s a couple of accommodation choices here, and there are actually two roadhouses here –not just the big BP one.

There are cheaper backpacker’s rooms near the smaller roadhouse (southern end of town). You can also camp here.

I can recommend the basic, but clean motel rooms and the burgers in the big roadhouse.

Make sure you get a picture of Glendambo’s famous sign, too.

Glendambo, South Australia

Glendambo to Coober Pedy

Distance: 254km

Travel Time: 2 hrs 30min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Glendambo & Coober Pedy

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G for approximately 30km either side of Glendambo and then again coming into Coober Pedy.

Free roadside campsites: Check them out on Wikicamps

This is the longest stretch on the entire journey. You may wish to fill up your car at Glendambo if you have a small tank.

For me, this is always the most boring part of the journey.

It might be that I’ve just done this trip too many times – but I am really glad when I finally reach Coober Pedy. I feel like I’m almost home (ok – you’ve still got over 600km until Alice Springs, but you get what I mean).

On this part of the trip, you get a sense of complete and utter isolation –some would say ‘desolation’. There are very few trees – the vegetation is predominately bluebush and saltbush- and until you start to see the ‘mullock heaps’ coming into Coober Pedy, very little to look at.

Coober Pedy landscape, South Australia

Please do NOT think this is what the entire outback is like. It’s not.

As you’ll see soon, most of central Australia is FULL of mountain ranges!

In between Glendambo and Coober Pedy, there are no other roadhouses. There are no towns.

The turn off to the Prominent Hill mine (not open to the public), the Adelaide to Darwin railway overpass and the little piles of mining rubble from opal mines (called ‘mullock heaps’) as you start to get closer to Coober Pedy are the only real things to look at.

We really recommend breaking your journey at Coober Pedy and stopping here overnight (or longer). We have a whole section on this amazing, friendly little outback town, so check out these pages:

You could easily spend 2 or 3 days at Coober Pedy, visiting underground mines, houses and shops, taking a sunset trip to the Breakways and the Moon Plain (where Mad Max 2 & 3 were made).

I’d recommend trying the underground backpackers or budget accommodation at Radeka’s.

Martin, who runs Radeka’s, is a real sweetie. He helped me out immensely when I broke down in the outback ALONE!

Book accommodation at Radeka’s here.

Coober Pedy to Cadney Park

Distance: 155km

Travelling Time: 1 hr 30min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Coober Pedy & Cadney Park

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G reception is only available until approx. 30km north of Coober Pedy, then there is NOTHING

Free roadside campsites: Free campsites and reviews on Wikicamps

From Coober Pedy, you head north once more, passing lots of mullock heaps, and traversing some low, barren hills.

About 50km north of Coober Pedy, you’ll find the famous Dingo Fence. It sneaks up on you quickly and is quite unassuming –meaning it’s not particularly well signposted, so I recommend that you be ready to stop and take a photo.

Dingo Fence, Coober Pedy, South Australia

After the dog fence, you travel through some very large cattle stations, so keep an eye out for wandering cows.

The terrain also begins to change. You start to see many more acacia shrubs and eventually our beloved outback Mulga trees (very good firewood when it’s dry). There’s also a few more hills.

When you get to Cadney Park Roadhouse, you’ll be near the turnoff to the Painted Desert. This is worth a visit – but be warned: it’s a 4WD only track and you’ll need several hours to drive out it.

Cadney Park itself is neat, tidy little roadhouse. It’s actually our favourite place to stay and we will stay here on average 4 times each year.

Cadney Roadhouse, South Australia

There are 6 motel rooms (I think we’ve stayed in every single one of them), a large area for caravans and camper trailers with powered and unpowered sites at the rear, and nice grassy lawn for camping. There are also budget style ‘donga’ rooms, showers and a large camp kitchen area.

The roadhouse’s food is generally good –get the Cadney Burger- and there’s a Happy Hour from 6pm every night. The shop has basic grocery items – again, they are expensive.

Cadney Park to Marla

Distance: 80km

Travelling Time: 45min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Cadney Park & Marla

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G reception is available for approx. 20km radius around Marla.

Free roadside campsites: Find free campsites using this very inexpensive app

This is a fairly short stretch of the journey, with the prize of mobile phone coverage and a small supermarket at Marla.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this section is the amount of roadkill you see.

For some reason there seems to be more on this section than others. Roadtrains travelling at night and around dawn and dusk, collide with kangaroos and as you might expect, poor Skippy doesn’t stand a chance.

The only good thing about this is that you’ll see a lot of Wedge-Tailed Eagles feeding off the poor kangaroos who’ve been killed.

Along this section of highway, the terrain continues to soften, with more and more Mulga scrub, and a few dry creeks with Bloodwood trees lining them. Unless there’s been reasonable rainfall, these creeks will always have no water in them.

Marla is actually a small village, with a couple of dusty streets, a police station and a mechanical repairs workshop (they only do very basic repairs, however).

Marla, South Australia

The Roadhouse has a very large motel-style accommodation area, and a camping/caravan ground at the rear. The rooms are spacious and comfortable – we’ve stayed here several times in the past few years.

There are powered and unpowered sites. The camping area is dirt but it is quiet and away from the highway. The facilities are clean and well cared for.

The Roadhouse has meals and a large bar area. As mentioned above, there is a supermarket that is a lot larger than all of the other roadhouses on the Stuart Highway.

Marla marks the northern end of the Oodnadatta Track, and is also the turn off to Mintabie – a tiny opal-mining town east of the Stuart Highway.

Marla to Kulgera

Distance: 192km

Travelling Time: 2 hrs 10min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Marla and Kulgera.

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G reception is only available until approx. 20km north of Marla, then there is NOTHING until Erldunda.

Free roadside campsites: Wikicamps shows you EVERY free & secret campsite

Here the terrain begins to become more like what I think of as central Australian: you’ll see Witchetty Bushes, Mulga, Ironwoods, Corkwoods, low ranges and little dry creek beds.

There’s a couple of interesting things to see along the way.

If you’re travelling through the week (Monday-Friday), you can take the 8km trip into Iwantja Art Centre at the Aboriginal Community of Indulkana. It’s about 50km north of Marla, and the road into Indulkana is very good.

As I love visiting Aboriginal art galleries on communities (in fact I ONLY ever buy Aboriginal art from these places or from the artists themselves), I’ll recommend that you check out galleries on communities whenever you get the chance.

If you’re not keen on Aboriginal art, then keep going north for another about 130km and you’ll come to the somewhat monolithic border crossing between the Northern Territory (NT) and South Australia. This is definitely worth stopping at for a photo or two.

NT-BorderYes, that's us!

From here, you’re in the NT and you can legally travel at 130km/h.

About 1km over the border is the Victory Downs/Mulga Park Road. This is also the BACK WAY to Uluru – the way you go if you’d like an adventure and want some dirt. Unless you’ve got a 4WD, stick to the Stuart Highway.

You’ve got an easy 20km trip until you come to Kulgera Roadhouse, which bills itself as the ‘first and last pub in the Territory’.

Kulgera-cutoutsThe infamous 'Kulgera cutouts' - home to many a silly photo!

At Kulgera, you’ll find reasonable meals, a bar, a grassed campground, motel, cabin and backpacker’s accommodation here. There’s also a police station and a few historic station (Americans: read ‘ranch’) buildings.

Kulgera is also the turnoff to the Lambert Centre, Finke (Apatula), Mt Dare, Dalhousie Springs, Old Andado, and the Old Ghan Track (an alternative rough dirt road to Alice Springs).

Kulgera to Erldunda

Distance: 85km

Travelling Time: 45 min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Kulgera & Erldunda

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G reception is only available for approx. 20km radius around Erldunda.

Now you’re really in the Northern Territory and on a great stretch of road. There’s a few interesting sandstone rock formations near the roads along the way, and a few dry creeks.

As this is a very short stretch, there’s not a lot to stop and see – just keep going until Erldunda where you’ll have mobile phone reception again.

Erldunda is the turnoff to Uluru – Ayers Rock, so if you’re heading that way along the Lasseter Highway, please read THIS ITINERARY for another detailed trip description.

Driving to Uluru? Click here for a detailed itinerary.

Erldunda Desert Oaks is a big roadhouse with a lot of accommodation and camping options. We’ve tried them all – the motel rooms are basic and comfortable, but a little overpriced.

Erldunda Roadhouse, Northern Territory

The backpacker’s rooms, which are in dongas, may be a little dingy for some – but they are cheap and warm. There’s also powered and unpowered caravan and campsites.

Be warned: if you’re planning on staying at Erldunda in June through to September, I STRONGLY suggest that you book your accommodation as it gets very busy here!

There are several good free camping options not too far away – one in a gravel pit just a few kilometres along the Lasseter Highway, and a stunning campsite at a roadside stop set amongst sand dunes and desert oaks, about 30km north of Erldunda along the Stuart Highway.

Erldunda to Alice Springs

Distance: 199km

Travelling Time: 2 hrs 10min (approx.)

Fuel & food available: Erldunda, Stuart’s Well, Alice Springs

Free campsites: Check out Wikicamps for all free campsites

Mobile phone coverage: Telstra 3G reception is only available until approx. 20km north of Erldunda, then there is NOTHING until about 40km south of Alice Springs

Now you are on what we think of as the ‘home straight’.

In around two hours, you’ll be knocking back an ale or a cider in Alice – our home town!

ALSO READ: Driving from Alice Springs to Uluru which describes in detail this section of the journey.

Along the way, you’re going to pass through increasingly mountainous terrain: you’ll pass the Palmer Ranges, drive through the James Range, past the Waterhouse Ranges and finally, you’ll see the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges – where Alice Springs is nestled.

There is a roadhouse, Stuart’s Well, which is roughly halfway along this stretch of the Stuart Highway, and the Outback Camel Farm is located next door.

Stuarts Well

You’ll pass a number of possible side trips or overnight camps:

  • The Ernest Giles Road, which is the 4WD-recommended road to Kings Canyon. Read our Kings Canyon Ultimate Guide
  • The Hugh River Stock Route, which leads to Oak Valley Campground, Titjikala, the Old Ghan Track and Chambers Pillar
  • The turnoff to Rainbow Valley (highly recommended for an overnight camp). Read our Rainbow Valley Ultimate Guide
  • The FABULOUS ‘secret’ national park – Owen Springs. Read our exclusive guide to Owen Springs

Finally, you’ll reach Alice Springs  – and yes, as it’s our home town we’ve created a huge array of resources and advice:

Please Read This

We really hope you’ve enjoyed and found this page useful. It actually took several weeks to put all the information together, edit and then publish here for you, for FREE.

We’d really appreciate it if you SHARED this post on Facebook, Pinterest and especially on Google Plus or Twitter if you’ve found it useful.

Also, if YOU’VE driven this iconic route, we’d LOVE to publish your story. Get in touch with us here for details.



  • Amanda, thanks for sharing such a comprehensive guide to driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs. It is great that you have provided information about phone coverage (or lack thereof…).

    I was recently contacted by a concerned father from overseas after he had not had any contact from his daughter and friends who were driving from Darwin to Uluru. I sent him the links to the phone coverage maps so he could see how little coverage there is outside the more populated areas – I love the advertising claims that xx network covers ’95-99% of the Australian population’, and of course international visitors do not really realise that most of the Australian population lives on the east coast and close to the townships – and in between those there is a lot of empty space without any phone signal, unless you have a satellite phone… Fortunately he got back to me a couple of days later and advised that his daughter had finally made contact…

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your kind words – it’s an epic post (like many of our posts tend to be), I’m just a little shame-jobbed that it’s taken me so long to get this one up here.

      We do this trip around 4 times each year, and every time there’s a little bit more Telstra reception. You can actually get it for most of the way to Coober Pedy -thanks to the two big new mines (Prominent Hill and the other one whose name escapes me)- but it is a little patchy, so best not to rely on it there.

      Yes… I am one of those 4% who does not live where the other 96% live, and I will often go for several weeks when I’m away doing bushwork without any phone or internet reception.

      Let us know if you’re ever in Alice and we’ll show you around and buy you an espresso martini! You too have a fabulous site, and you’ve put a lot of hard work into it 🙂

      Kind wishes- Amanda

  • kerryalina says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I just wanted to say thank you for putting so much valuable info together! I’m doing this trip in a week (I know, I know – flies and heat, what was I thinking!!) and I was borderline terrified before I found this post. Feeling much more prepared now 🙂

    Thanks again!

    • Amanda says:

      I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful, Kerryalina. It’s VERY hot up here at the moment, so make sure your air con is working. If you feel like catching up when you get to Alice, let me know – send me an email via the contact us form on the website. Happy to catch up for a coffee or drink to welcome you to Alice.

      Drive safe 🙂

      I’m a trained (but now retired) yoga instructor BTW. My maternal grandmother taught yoga until she was 80 (she’s now 96) so it could be in my genes. I’ve never done Bikram, though. Simply haven’t had the opportunity.



  • Matt McKillop says:

    Hi Amanda!

    Thank you for writing up this article, it’s a wealth of knowledge for people planning a trip through this amazing part of the country. I have a quick question in hoping you can help me with; I’m planning to ride my motorcycle up to Kata Tjuta on the Easter long weekend (or as far up as I can before having to return safely, as I only have four days). My question is this – my bike, using standard pump fuel, has around a 330 KM fuel range. I’ve done 1000 km day rides before heading East from Adelaide, but there are lots of large chain service stations. Given the remote locations and the public holidays, I’m concerned I’ll be nearing the end of my range only to find that the ‘ma &’ pa service station/grocer is closed due to the long weekend. Do you think this is a valid concern, or will fuel stops be plentiful?

  • John B says:

    Thanks for giving us this comprehensive guide to driving Alice to Adelaide and Uluru, the information you have provided will undoubtedly ensure anyone heading your advice and safety trips will have a most enjoyable trip, I am so looking forward to mine. JB

  • Ann Silver says:

    Hi Amanda, GREAT information thank you! My brother and sister-in-law are coming over from South Africa next year and we’re making the big trek to see the magnificence of Uluru in June. Is this a good time to tavel? Also, can’t decide if we should take a campervan or just a 4WD and stay along the way. What would be your recommendations?

    • Amanda says:

      June is VERY busy at Uluru -it’s peak tourist season- so do be prepared. It’s a good time to travel, but do keep in mind that it will be COLD. If you are only planning to travel on the Lasseter Highway and Stuart Highway, these are excellent bitumen highways, and you won’t need a 4WD. If you are planning to travel via the Red Centre Way (also known as the Mereenie Loop), then you will need a 4WD.



  • sarah montgomery says:

    We are thinking of following your route, however, we have 3 children & wondered if anyone would recommend doing this with children aged 6, 10 & 12??

    Thank you

  • Matthew says:

    Thanks for this write up, it’s very comprehensive. We’re currently looking at doing Launceston Tasmania to Alice springs. This is going to be a big help I feel. I can’t wait to go now haha, I love Australia and I’m sure our 5yr old will enjoy this trip immensely

  • Oakkar says:

    Hi Amanda ,
    Thks for ur trip plan. I live in Alice n plan to travel Melbourne by road trip. Is Toyota Yaris seden ok for that trip. Is the road safe for seden cos this is my first time? Now I know how’s condition of road from Alice to Adelaide. But for the whole trip is that ok with my car? Thks

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Okkar,

      As long as you car is serviced regularly and in good running order, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be fine to drive to Adelaide. The Stuart Highway is sealed all the way – just like it is here in Alice. Keep your fuel topped up and you’ll be fine.



  • Chelsea and Lachy says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Just wanted to say a huge thank you for putting together this guide! As 21/22 year olds on our first road trip through the outback the information and advice you have given was invaluable and made our trip much safer and more enjoyable.
    All the best,
    Chelsea and Lachy

  • Stephanie says:

    Oh my god this was so unbelievably helpful. Thank you so much for covering EVERYTHING! look forward to doing this drive!!

  • Janet Francis says:

    Thank You, Thank You. Amanda and Gary.
    What a fabulous site Very well put together Itinery. Both I and my husband cannot get over how well you have put all this together so well! Thank you.
    We are thinking of doing a trip to Alice Springs in our little holden 4door hatch and wondered if it would make thetrip from Gawler to the Alice without any problems. it is a reasonably new car, 2010 model and automatic. would you recommend anything to do or take apart from the obvious. when we do it will be in mid April and possibly for a week, maybe two.

    Thank you again for a help full, fantastic well put together website.

    Regards and thank you. Cheers.
    Janet and Max

  • Slav says:

    Great information, this looks so well-done!!!!!!! Could I just ask about your opinion on the Darwin-Alice Springs road, is it somewhat comparable? 🙂 Thank you!

  • Alison says:

    I’ve just been reading up on Coober pedy as I’ll be stopping there today – yesterday was a pleasant 24 degrees in glendambo but I’m expecting a hotter day today…. Hopefully there’s underground – or at least undercover – parking for the car also? I haven’t been able to find any info on this however will ask around here before I set off this morning. Thanks for the detailed guide 🙂

  • joely says:

    Sending some gratitude to you for this guide. I’m planning to drive Alice Springs down to Melbourne in December and I’m starting to have a look around for some good guides and tips. I really look forward to this drive and after living out bush for a bit I know what it’s like to drive in the dirt and on long, empty roads with wonderful cattle peeking from the side of the road haha.
    Thanks again for writing this 🙂

  • Isabelle & Jean-Claude says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Thanks a lot for all these informations!
    We just returned to Luxembourg, Europe, after our trip in a campervan from Melbourne to Uluru, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs.
    All your tips and descriptions were so very useful and entertaining.
    We particularly appreciated Coober Pedy and adored stopping for the night at the roadhouses.
    Isabelle and Jean-Claude
    (no flies, no heat at our place…) 🙂

  • Diane Rewi says:

    This site was very useful for our drive to Alice Springs. The husband and I did it in mid October this year and loved every minute of it including flies and heat. Think the temperatures ranged from 25 [Adelaide] to 40 and were surprised how well we coped both being in our 60’s and from NZ. Pleased we walked around Uluru early in the day. However must say Coober Pedy was not our thing! Would I do it again? Definitely.

    Nga mihi nui

  • Lauren says:

    Hi Amanda.

    Thank you so much for publishing this! We are undertaking a round trip from Adelaide to Coober pedy and this article is so helpful!

    I do have one question though. Is it necessary to have a petrol canister to do this journey? I noticed you said the last petrol stop is 257km from coober pedy.

    Thank you from very grateful backpackers.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Lauren,

      That will depend on the size of your fuel tank. Having said that, I drove a small Holden Barina from Adelaide a few years back, and had no problems. Simply fill up at Glendambo and you should have plenty of fuel to get to Coober Pedy. As a rule, if you are worried, fill up your fuel tank at EVERY opportunity and you’ll be fine.

      Hope this helps,


      • Munee says:

        Hi Amanda
        Thankyou for such a nice post. Do u live in Alice? I recently got a job in Alice and thinking to move there with my wife, 3 yrs old son and 4 months old daughteer. Need some advice from u, i fu can please

  • elise dalley says:

    Hey, what a great and informative read! just wondering if there was much rubbish strewn along the side of the road when you’ve driven this stretch? Thanks

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Elise,

      There is often a lot of roadkill (dead kangaroos and emus etc) on the road. Further up (past Coober Pedy), you’ll sometimes see old cars which have broken down that usually belong to Aboriginal people who can’t afford to have them fixed up – many times these cars are trashed by other people. Around the roadside rest stops, unfortunately, there is often a lot of toilet paper as many travellers do not clean up after themselves. Otherwise, there is generally not a lot of rubbish along the roadsides.

  • Akbar says:

    In June 2014, I drove from Alice Springs to Port Pirie in one day and then back to Alice Springs after staying a day in Port Pirie. The journeys took me 17 hours per limb, with 4 hours of night time drive each way (Glendambo to Port Pirie onwards and Marla to Alice Springs on return). I did not stay overnight anywhere on the route. Each time I think of the night drive in desolate landscape, it makes me feel incredibly stupid and send shudders down my spine, especially when I was accompanied by my wife and my toddler daughter. I did not know the dangers of night driving back then, yet I did not see any animals on road (If I had, I wouldn’t have been around to tell the tale anyways). I hope not many people are as stupid as I had been. But now I am much more careful ever since.

  • Julitha Carlton says:

    Hi Amanda, we are leaving Bundaberg on May 14 heading for Uluru and beyond, just read your amazing blog with so much detailed information has certainly given me of lot of comfort with this. I have a question you mentioned all the ranges on the Journey to Alice Springs, I’m assuming that the road will be steep in some spots, is the majority of the roads flat. Also as your blog appears to be a few years old has the price of Fuel gone down in between towns and are some places cheaper than others. I am Driving a Mazda 6 towing a Jayco Camper and my Fuel consumption is not the best when towing. It is only me and my Autistic son doing this 10 week adventure.

  • Babs says:

    What a great read and wealth of information! I did this trip in 2006 Except my trip was Darwin to Adelaide with a few side trips to Kakadu, Nitmiluk and Uluru. I’m wanting to do it again with a side trip to King’s canyon also. Would love a write up from Alice up have you written one or do you know of one. I’d also be leaving from Gippsland Vic making it a little longer :). Thank you for your grwat write up on such a beautiful part of Australia 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    thank you for taking the time to write about this trip in such detail. We are leaving in 4 weeks from Melbourne to Alice and of course Ayers Rock. this information is great and has helped us plan this part of our holiday.


  • misha says:

    Hey thank you for all the info.
    I’m planning to ride from Melbourne to ulura.

  • Esther Harrison says:

    Great information thank you, has helped plan our trip. Leaving from Adelaide on Tuesday.
    Any thoughts on whether it is better to do Kings Canyon then head to Uluru then Alice Springs or go to Uluru, then Kings Canyon and onto Alice Springs? We can’t decide!

  • Jo says:

    Thank you so much for this invaluable resource! We’ve just returned from an Adelaide -Ayers Rock -Adelaide trip in 2 x motorhomes and this guide was an invaluable resource. Furthermore, the $7.49 I paid on the wiki camps app was the best money I’ve ever spent! Thanks so much, regards, Jo

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Jo,

      I’m so glad our info was useful to you. Comments like yours make all the hours we put in with the website worthwhile,


      Amanda & Gary

  • Anthony says:

    Hello, I am planning to drive from Adelaide to Ayers Rock after reading this great guide however when i tried to search for a rental cars to be picked up from Adelaide Airport and return to Ayers Rock airport, the cheapest daily rental (Toyota Yaris) is AUD 480 per day which has totally shocked me. It seems like the only available car company who offer this is Hertz. And if I were to return to Alice Spring instead, only Europcar is available and the daily rental is just as expensive.

    I understand there is a surcharge for picking and returning in a different location but the price can’t be 15 times more expensive than a normal daily rental (If pickup and return in Sydney, the daily rental is only AUD30!) . I would be greatly appreciated if you could enlighten me if there are any options that you would recommend as i really want to driving from Adelaide to Ayers Rock then take a cheap flight from Ayers Rock back to Sydney after that.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Amanda says:

      Sorry Anthony, but there ARE no cheap rental car options. We’ve written about the great outback car hire rip off elsewhere on the site. We have been told this is because overseas tourists to the NT have far more motor vehicle accidents than anywhere else.

      You would try Wicked Campers – they might be a better option.

  • Gill Pennock says:

    Hi Amanda. Thank you so much for this, we are heading up to Alice from Canberra in September, via Adelaide. My partner has limited knowledge of driving in the Outback so this is just what I needed to warn him about trying to drive too far in a day. You’ve also allayed my concerns about comfort stops, though I did cope with the Broome to Derby road trip on my own!!
    Thank you again for the information, Gill

  • Peter Vandermeer says:

    Hi,Amanda, what can I say, have been searching the net for information, we are heading up to Alice Springs from Melbourne 1st August,luck was with me by finding your site about a month ago, so much info, thank you for your dedication, ye-ha, wife Judy is rearing to go, see you in Alice, cheers

  • Judy says:

    Just makes me want to get up and go …thank you for great info

  • Judy says:

    Great info thank you

  • Jatin Shah says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Great Post!! Appreciate the valuable information. This will be very handy when we travel on the 24/12 From Melb-Port Augusta & on the 25/12 from Port Augusta to Uluru. My question or concern is, would there be fuel stations open (for trade) on Christmas day. Can you please guide.

  • Heke Te Arihi says:

    Hi Amanda, great article. Would like to know, is summer okay to drive to
    Alice Springs? My biggest concern is how hot will it be and what effect will this have on tyres. Would start at Port Augusta then past Alice Springs heading back to Queensland.
    Kind regards

    • Amanda says:

      Hi there Heke,

      We drive to and from Alice to Adelaide or to our second home in outback South Australia every summer. As long as your tyres are not too worn, you shouldn’t have any problems. That is my *main* advice: very hot conditions aren’t kind to worn tyres. We’ve never blown a tyre on the Stuart Highway.

      We have blown worn tyres (two within 15 min) driving on the Oodnadatta Track in January when it was 47 degrees. We were carrying two spares, so we were lucky! We were able to get one fixed in Coober Pedy and then continued home via the Stuart Highway.

      Hope this helps,


  • Heke says:

    That’s great Amanda. Yes very helpful.
    Have a wonderful new years.

  • Alix says:

    Hi Amanda,
    This is an exceptional guide, thank you for taking the time to put it together and share it so generously. I am driving from Sydney to Darwin at the end of this month – via Coober Pedy and Stuart Highway. I’ve been reading a lot about getting a bull bar (fixing it to my Subaru Forester) – and can see arguments for and against. Once in Darwin, I will mainly be driving on urban roads. Would you recommend it solely for this drive? We are not intending on driving at night, and taking our time – 7-8 days to complete the drive. What would your recommendation be?
    Many thanks again,

  • Therese Johns says:

    If you drive to alice from adelaide do you have to go south again the some way you came.?

  • Steven says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Great information. I notice that you have said the distance from Coober Pedy to Alice Springs or Uluru is about 680km, but when I check with Google Maps I get about 710km to Alice and 734km to Yulara. Do you think this is should be done during the winter months or would you recommend breaking the journey into two?



    • Amanda says:

      Hi Steven,

      I’ve just checked my photo of the mileage sign at Coober Pedy and I assure you it’s 686km to Alice. Promise. I’ve driven this road soooo many times. I have no idea where Google is getting those extra km from!

      • Steven Ting says:

        Thanks so much for your reply and your facebook post. How long does this section of the journey usually take?

        • Amanda says:

          Hi Steven,

          Although you can drive from Port Augusta to Alice in one day, trust me when I say that it’s a very LOOOONG day! It’s about 11-12 hours of driving in total.

          If you’re in a hurry, break up the trip with an overnight stop at Coober Pedy or one of the roadhouses or many, many free roadside rest stops along the way.

          If you’re not in a hurry, then my advice is to break the trip and spend a couple of days in and around Coober Pedy.



          • Steven Ting says:

            Hi, I meant how long is the drive from Coober Pedy to Alice? I’m definitely going to spend a couple of days in Coober.


  • Rama Gollapudi says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I have read your experience described here atleast 20 times till now. It is really very helpful and informative and I like the no-nonsense approach of your writing. Finally, I am making the trip to Uluru from Melbourne this July. I have booked a campervan for a family of 4, stopping at Port Augusta and Marla on the way and Coober Pedy while returning. My only concern was phone coverage. Do you recommend renting a satellite phone? Thanks, Rama

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Rama,

      No, I don’t recommend hiring a sat phone for this trip. Get a Telstra sim card for your phone. There is almost complete coverage from Port Augusta to Coober Pedy nowadays, with coverage also at Glendambo, Erldunda and of course, Uluru. The Stuart Highway is a busy road, and if anything happens where you do break down outside of mobile phone coverage, someone will stop to help you. I’ve broken down on the Stuart Highway ALONE and I’ve been helped by passers-by. One time it was an Indian family from Melbourne who helped me!

      I hope this puts your mind at ease, Rama. Enjoy your trip.



  • Rama Gollapudi says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks so much for your advise. I do have Telstra already so that should suffice. I will let you know how the trip went mid-July.



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