Driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock

Uluru, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs

In our opinion, driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock is a road trip that everyone should have on their bucket list.

It’s the ultimate outback trip that opens your eyes to the incredible diversity of the outback’s landscapes.

It’s also one of those trips that feels like you should have a 4WD – but the truth is it can be done in a nippy little 4 cylinder car! You can drive there on completely sealed roads.

There’s lots to see and do along the way to Uluru. This page gives you the quick facts and a complete driving itinerary to driving this ultimate outback road trip.

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ: Driving from Adelaide to Alice Springs – The Ultimate Guide

Quick Facts About This Drive

There are three different ways to drive from Alice Springs to Uluru.

Your choice will depend upon how much time you have, the kind of vehicle you’re driving, and what you want to see along the way.

Also, if you’re worried about whether your car will have enough fuel, there are fuel stops at Stuart’s Well, Erldunda, Mt Ebenezer (which is now open again), and Curtin Springs.

Via Sealed Roads (the quickest way!):

  • via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways
  • 450km/270mi
  • Current fuel costs for 6 cyl sedan are $69 each way or $139 return
  • approximately 4.5 hours driving time
  • No 4WD needed

Bonus tip: A 4cyl hire car crushes this trip for economy and budget savings!
If you’ve NEVER driven in the outback before, are unsued to driving on the left hand side of the road, or are getting straight off a plane in Alice Springs and into your hire care, we strongly recommend that you stick to the bitumen and leave the unsealed, more adventurous roads to others.

When driving the Stuart and Lasseter Highways, there are several things you need to be aware of:

  • Driver fatigue – stop and get out of your car every 2 hours. Rest for at least 15 minutes, or -ideally- share the driving
  • Animals on the road – kangaroos, camels and cattle. You will see them on this drive. Beware! The most common tourist fatalities after heat exhaustion in the outback is hitting large animals.
  • Do not drive at night. There are too many animals on these roads.

Via Unsealed Roads

If you’re looking to get off the bitumen, then you’ve got two options for driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock

The Red Centre Way

(Formerly called ‘the Mereenie Loop’)

  • Partially sealed
  • 690km /428mi
  • Best done with two overnight stops (West MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon)
  • 4WD recommended, but we’ve seen plenty of 2WD campers on this road doing it fine

The Ernest Giles and Luritja Roads

  • 4WD ONLY! We have pulled way too many tourists in 2WD hire cars out of sand trips on the Ernest Giles Road
  • REPEAT: 4WD only! We really, really, REALLY mean this. DO NOT TAKE A 2WD on this road unless you want to get stuck!
  • 460km/285mi (not including side trip to Kings Canyon)
  • approximately 5.5 hours driving time

What to see and do

Here, we’re going to give you complete itinerary for driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock via the Stuart and Lassetter Highways.

The itinerary assumes you’re leaving from Alice Springs and driving to Uluru.

From Alice Springs, head south on the Stuart Highway through Heavitree Gap and turn right at the signs which say ‘Adelaide’ (10km south of town).

This is the Stuart Highway proper, and you’ll be driving on this road for the next 2 hours.

50km south of Alice Springs, you’ll come to Mt Polhill.

Driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, Mt Polhill rest area

Mt Polhill is a roadside stop where you can camp for free for up to 24hrs. There’s some picnic tables, a watertank and not much else.

There is a well-known Geocache nearby.

65km from Alice Springs, you’ll see the entry signs for Owen Springs Reserve.

There is a 60km long 4WD track that winds through Owen Springs Reserve and takes you back to Alice Springs via Larapinta Drive.

If you’ve got time, we recommend checking this little visited reserve out.

Owen Springs is full of history, Aboriginal rock art sites, great birdwatching, and free bush camping. There’s also a Geocache hidden halfway along the 4WD track.

We’ve created an entire guide to Owen Springs which you can read more about here.

75km south of Alice Springs is the turnoff to Rainbow Valley.

Rainbow Valley is well worth the 20km drive along the unsealed road that leads in.

There’s a great camping area there with picnic tables, gas BBQs and long drop toilets, a couple of interesting walks, and of course THIS fabulous rock formation:

rainbow-valley-conservation-reserve-36866

A high clearance vehicle is recommended (the road can be quite corrugated at certain times of the year), although I will admit I have driven a 2WD Toyota Camry sedan in here with no difficulty.

And yes, LOTS of Wicked vans, Britz Campers and other 2WD vehicles seem to make it here just fine.

80 km south of Alice Springs is Stuarts Well Roadhouse.

Even if you don’t stop at any other roadhouse when driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, I recommend you stop here.

Stuarts Well was the home of Dinky the singing Dingo – an outback legend in his own right.

And of course, his owner, Jim Cotterill; another outback legend.

Sadly, Dinky passed away in May 2014, but his memory lives on in You Tube clips, photos, and the hearts of all who met him.

At Stuart’s Well, you’ll find a caravan park, restaurant, pool, toilets, emus and kangaroos.

There’s also a Geocache. Next door is a camel farm where you can take a short camel ride.

85km south of Alice Springs on the eastern side of the road, you’ll see the Cannonball Run Memorial.

Driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, Cannonball Run Memorial

This roadside rest area is only a few minutes on from Stuarts Well. It’s a barren, open place with little shade.

It does have an interesting story.

In 1994, during an car race event called ‘The Cannonball Run’, a Ferrari F40 crashed into a checkpost at this point, killing its Japanese driving team and two track officials.

Needless to say, there were no further Cannonball Runs in the Northern Territory after this.

130 km south of Alice Springs, the next point of interest is the Finke River.

Just before the bridge is a tiny rest area located on the eastern side of the highway.

It’s a popular stop for people driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock.

The rest area has a toilet, some water, a couple of picnic tables. In the winter time, this rest area is packed full of camper trailers.

Why?

The location is superb: right next to the mighty Finke River (which only flows a couple of times each year).

The rest area has a 24 hour limit on camping, so no long term camping.

And yes, there is a Geocache here.

138km south of Alice Springs and you’ll pass the Ernest Giles Road intersection.

This is turn off to Kings Canyon (Watarrka), and is a 4WD only road.

A quick and interesting side trip along the Ernest Giles Road is to the small but interesting Henbury Meteorite Craters, located 11km in off Stuart Highway.

About 150km south of Alice Springs: the Desert Oaks Rest Area.

Driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, Desert Oaks Rest Area

Located on the west side of the road, this spot is set in amongst the sand dunes and (of course) desert oaks.

The Desert Oaks Rest area is one of a number along the Stuart Highway that you can camp overnight at.  It gets VERY popular in wintertime (between June-August in the outback), so our advice would be to get here before 4pm if you’d like to get a spot that’s further back from the road.

The rest area has plenty of room to spread out, water, shade, tables, wood BBQs, toilets and water, however we’d recommend that if you want a campfire, you may have to drive along the road and collect your firewood from elsewhere due to the winter time popularity of this place.
You’ll find a Geocache nearby.

Erldunda Roadhouse: Where the Stuart and Lasseter Highways Meet

Erldunda Roadhouse is a very popular stop for people driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock.

In fact, you’ll often find this roadhouse crowded with all manner of tourist buses, camper vans, 4WDs, cars and people!

Erldunda has a caravan park, cafe, tavern, service station, a Geocache, and some interesting things like a giant concrete Echidna and (live) emus.

Erldunda Roadhouse

There’s mobile phone reception here – the last reception you’ll get until you reach Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort).

If you decide to stay at Erldunda, there’s a variety of accommodation options – camping, powered and unpowered caravan sites, backpacker’s accommodation (very basic) and very nice motel rooms.

Book rooms, get the best rates and read reviews for Erldunda Roadhouse here
Turn right onto the Lasseter Highway. From here, it is 244km to Uluru. The road is sealed all the way.

50km along the Lasseter Highway: Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse

Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse re-opened in mid-2013. There’s fuel, drinks, meals, camping and basic motel style accommodation there. Mt Ebenezer RoadhouseWhen it was open, you could buy local Aboriginal art and artefacts made by the people from the nearby Imanpa Community.

There’s a Geocache here, too, which is still accessible.

108km along the Lasseter Highway, you’ll come to the Luritja Road Turnoff

Driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock, Lasseter Highway Roadside Camps

The Luritja Road will take you to Kings Canyon and Kings Creek Station, and if you keep going, all the way back to Alice Springs via places like Hermannsburg or Glen Helen.

Roadside rest area: 110km west of Erldunda, you’ll find a very popular roadside rest area.

Lots of caravanners and folks in campers stop here overnight when they’re driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock.

It’s free, but bear in mind that the only facility is a watertank.

139km along the Lasseter Highway is the Mt Conner Lookout

Mt Conner is often mistaken for Uluru by unsuspecting tourists when driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock.

When you see it, you’ll know at once why this formation fools so many people. Make sure you stop here, stretch your legs and take a look around. (Oh yeah, there’s a Geocache to find, too).Mt-Conner2

Mt Conner is a striking flat-topped mesa that’s about 859m (2821ft) high, and like Uluru, is a sacred site for Yankunytjatjara people.

It’s name is Atila in Yankunytjatjara, and it’s associated with the Seven Sisters and Ice Man Dreamings (sometimes called ‘songlines’) which travel from west to east across several hundred kilometres of country.

Mt Conner is located on Curtin Springs Station, and the only way to visit it is to book a tour at Curtin Springs.

Believe me when I say this: there is no public access.

We have heard rumours that Curtin Springs Station has planted tyre spikes on the tracks which lead to the massif to stop the public visiting. You WILL get a flat tyre or two if you attempt to drive to it.

If you drive down the dirt road toward Mt Conner (the Mulga Park Road) a kilometre or so, you’ll find a Geocache and a place to take awesome sunset photos of Mt Conner.

Curtin Springs Roadhouse is located 150km along the Lasseter Highway.

Owned by the Severin family, Curtin Springs has is a roadhouse, with fuel, meals, a pub and donga-style accommodation.

There’s also a campground. Unpowered campsites are FREE, whilst powered campsite sites are $3. Showers are $3 and before you complain about this, remember that the cost of installing bores to provide water is ASTRONOMICAL.

Curtin Springs Roadhouse

I’ve stayed here several times as a cheap option to Ayers Rock Resort. The self-contained accommodation is basic but clean and comfortable. The dongas have small kitchens and bathrooms.

Curtin Springs Station operates station tours and the 6 hour long Mt Conner tour. This costs about $185 and is recommended if you’re fit. There’s a few shorter tours, such as the $60 sunset tour, which might be better if you’re not so fit.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a Geocache here, too.

From Curtin Springs, it’s 80km to Yulara/Ayers Rock Resort and the end of your journey.

FREE Roadside Campground – 40km West of Uluru

The last stop along the way is the FREE roadside campground, located approximately 40km west of Curtin Springs and 40km east of Uluru. This is the closest FREE and LEGAL campsite to Uluru. It’s approximately 20km east of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park boundary.

Uluru-roadside

This very basic campsite is located in spectacular sand dune country, and even offers views of Uluru to the west from the top of the sand dune you can see in the photo above (see the 4WD? The dune immediately ABOVE it).

There is a couple of BBQs, a table and chairs and a water tank. There are NO other facilities, so you’ll have to be self-sufficient.

Although this roadside stop doesn’t look much, there is a SECRET, hidden section to this campsite, where you can drive down off the dune (track is located midway along the bitumen rest stop pictured above) and camp in an utterly GORGEOUS bush setting, amongst a grove of mulga (see picture below).

Uluru-roadside-stop

And if you’re NOT convinced this is a place worth stopping, then here’s one a photo taken with an iPhone from the top of the dune:

Uluru-from-roadside-stop

BE WARNED: This campsite gets VERY BUSY in the winter months between May-August! Get here about 3:00 to 3:30pm to beat the rush and claim the best spot!


Safety Tips and Other Advice

Driving from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways is safe, however there’s are few outback driving safety tips we’d like to share with you.

Ayers Rock is not just a ‘short drive’ from Alice Springs. It will take you half a day – it’s 5 hours drive.

Read these safety tips carefully.

More overseas tourists are killed on the Lasseter Highway than on any other road in the Northern Territory.

Given that the road is an excellent, straight, sealed road, this should not be the case.

Many overseas tourists get off planes in Alice Springs and jump straight into hire cars with no understanding of outback road conditions or distances.

These tips will help you understand the risks and avoid them:

  • Fatigue kills. It is five and a half hours drive from Alice Springs to Uluru. You MUST stop and rest every two hours for 15 min.
  • Animals kill. Camels and cattle (cows) roam freely on the Lasseter Hwy. Be alert and slow down when you see them. Hitting cattle at night is the most common cause of tourist fatalities on the Lasseter Highway.
  • Speed kills. Slow down. The speed limit is 110km/h for a reason.
  • Don’t drive at night. Kangaroos, cattle and camels are active at night. A collision with one could be fatal.
  • Overtake only when you have a long, clear straight. Leave three times extra space if you’re overtaking a road train. They are up to 55 metres long.

Driving to from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock is one of Australia’s top road trips. Make sure you use these tips and let us know if there’s anything we missed.

Please Read This

We’re very pleased to say that this page is the NUMBER ONE authority (according to Google) on driving from Alice Springs to Uluru on the internet.

We’re very pleased with that. This page took several weeks to write, several years of collecting our own photographs and we continually check and update it.

What’s more it’s FREE and we’re very proud of that!

So, 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.

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119 Comments

  • Beryl says:

    I found this information very helpful

    • Hesh says:

      Im currently planing a trip from Mel -> Alice Springs and back. This article helped me emensly to plan our route and stops.

      Thank you very much

  • Cheryl says:

    Great site, very informative. Now I can plan my road trip and also know what to expect. Thank you.

  • Ru says:

    Thank you for all the helpful info! Been enjoying reading your recommendations and tips 🙂 Just a q

  • Ru says:

    Woops, accidentally submitted my unfinished post. My friend and I are planning to hire a car from Alice Springs then drive to Uluru. Just wondering if a normal 4-cylinder car would be alright to be driven on the roads in Uluru too?

  • Steve says:

    Just got back home from our Oz holiday and wanted to say this site was very helpful – thanks for publishing it!

    “Just wondering if a normal 4-cylinder car would be alright to be driven on the roads in Uluru too?” – All sealed roads around Uluru so you’ll be fine.

  • PB says:

    Great information, thank you. One question, if driving to Uluru from Alice Springs via the Ernest Giles and Luritja Roads, are there any petrol stations along the way? Can you make the trip on one tank safely? Thanks!

    • Admin says:

      Hi PB,
      It depends on what kind of vehicle you’re driving, of course, but really most 4WDs (please don’t EVER contemplate taking a 2WD on the Giles Road), should be able to make the trip from Alice to Uluru via the Giles Road, which is around 400km in distance. If you’re really worried about fuel, then I recommend travelling via the Stuart & Lasseter Highways, where there’s fuel stops at Erldunda, Mt Ebenezer and Curtin Springs – cheers, Amanda & Gary

  • Tony says:

    The campsite at curtin springs IS free (not $2), but you have to pay for a powered site. The shower will cost $3 (to help offset the cost of water heating via a generator). The payment for the shower uses the honesty system (pay at the roadhouse). A small price to pay to refresh yourself.

    And admin is 100% spot on about Ernest Giles Road. Out of morbid curiosity we drove down there in my 2WD car….just to see what it was like. We lasted all of 200 metres, if that. The road is rough as guts, and that was just the start!!

    • Admin says:

      Hi Tony,

      For several years the campground at Curtin Springs was most definitely NOT free – so thanks for the info, we’ll update the page,

      Cheers,
      Amanda

  • D says:

    Hi
    I found this information very helpful. I even took a printout of this in case we didn’t have coverage in our phone.
    Me and my husband flew to Alice and then hired a car to uluru(fist week of June 2013)hiring a car was very expensive($ 30 cents per km) but the road trip was nice.Even though we couldn’t see any kangaroos or any other animals (other than cows) i would recommend you to drive from Alice to Uluru.Make sure you keep your fuel tank full and put petrol whenever you can.In Alice we bought some water bottles,biscuits and other stuff as in Uluru we would not find many stores and they are much more expensive than Alice.Please make sure you take the camel ride from Stuart Well camel farm which i enjoyed a lot.I did enjoy Uluru but Kings Canyon was my favorite!!! make sure you do the Rim walk which is adventuress and also worth it. In kings canyon we stayed in the Kings canyon resort “deluxe room” which i never forget the view from that room.if you go to kings canyon make sure you stay in the deluxe room ,you will never forget the experience in your lifetime.

    We stayed our first night in Uluru ,secong night in Kings Canyon and last two days in Alice Springs.I recommend you to do the same way as I think it was enough to see all the main icons in a short time period.

    June was a bit cold and I recommend to go in April or in the Spring .

    Enjoy your trip and it is a one of the best places to visit in the world !!!

  • NW says:

    Thank you for this wonderful web-page.

    We are 4 in group and will visit Ayers Rock & Alice Springs in the coming AUG. We will hire a 2WD from Ayers Rock to Alice Springs. Any recommendation for us? How’s about the weather?

  • Angie says:

    I am just wondering if I take a coach bus on a one day trip and coming back to Alice Spring the same day, it will be at night. Is it safe to travel at night?

  • Dan Meyers says:

    We completed a six day driving tour of Alice Springs / Uluru area and used this site as a guide – thanks for the very helpful information! We added in King’s Canyon which we also loved (click on name above to see our full tour).

    One thing to point out, Dinky no longer sings! His owner said he’s just getting too old, but he did offer to show us a video and we could go see Dinky who still hangs out around the place. We had such a great trip and loved the Red Center!

  • Peter says:

    thanks for this excellent information. I would be very glad if someone could reply briefly. We (Germans – for the first time in the outback) fly in from Sydney arriving in Alice Springs on a Saturday in October at 12.30pm. We plan to pick up a hire car (4WD) and drive straight to Yulara via Stewart and Lasseter Hwy. Is that to risky as you emphasized not driving at night? Assuming plane lands in time and we were off at 2pm latest then we could be in Yulara around 7.30pm. Supposed sun down is around 6.45pm – makes it 30 to 45 minutes driving in the dawn or darkness. I have already booked in Yulara. Any professional comment is truly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
    br
    Peter

  • Peter says:

    just another question: I’m wondering if there is any similar sound information for driving from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs maybe via Standley Chasm. I need to get a flight from Alice Springs to Cairns at 5pm. I guess I need to be at the airport at 3.30pm incl. dropping hire car. Can this be easily done if I leave by 9.00am Kings Canyon Resort? Any recommendation or advices? Thanks again.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Peter,

      I’ve sent you an email reply. My short answer to you is: you need at least another day here to do what you’re planning. We recommend that people spend no less than 5 days in the Red Centre at a minimum. That’s because the distances between places are huge (300-500km) and there is so much more to see than just Uluru and Kings Canyon.

  • Alex says:

    Hi! Thank you very much for this usefull information. Could you please advise, is it possible to drive from Curtin Springs Roadhouse to Alice Springs in one day by taking a Road to King Canyon early morning (stop at Canyon for a 1/2 or full hour) and then continue driving Red Center Way by Namajira Drv in ordinary 2WD sedan? If possible how long will it take? We are planning a trip in the end of December and the light day is quite long this time of year. If it is possible to do by 2WD sedan, is it also possible to make a stop at Tnorala Conservation (it seams that this 7-8km road is unsealed too).

    If this trip is not possible in 2WD sedan, is it possible to do in 2WD RAV4?
    4WD cars seem to be non avalaible or at high price (up too 1000 AUD for 48 hours one way including milage limit fee), is it possible to rent a car with driver on place who could take us on above mentioned route and how much could it cost? (unfortunately we are short in time and have only one day to get from Uluru to Alice Springs.. and there is so much to see around there…).
    Thank you for your advice!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Alex,

      Whilst this trip IS possible (it takes about 3 1/2 hours from Watarrka back to Alice Springs via the Red Centre Way), it will be a very long day for you, and you’re not really going to see all that much of Kings Canyon/Watarrka -which is BIGGER and just as spectacular as Uluru.

      You could do this trip easily in a 2WD Rav4, provided there had been no rain. In fact, you could do it in a 2WD camper van (many people do), provided you didn’t mind the corrugations between the Ipolera/Tnorala turn off and Hermannsburg (60km of vrough road). You WOULD NOT be able to drive into Tnorala, however. This is a 4WD only track.

      Rather than ‘rent a driver’ I would suggest trying Emu Run Tours or Way Outback Tours for this kind of ‘rushed’ journey.

      I really think you should consider spending more than one day in Central Australia or come back and do it another time. One day is not enough – it is a huge distance to drive and there is so much to see and do. We tell people NOT to make this mistake – the biggest and most costly mistake of all: not spending 5 days in Central Australia. You are doing yourself a disservice. You would be much better off spending less time in Sydney or Melbourne and more time here.

      • Alex says:

        Thank you, Amanda.
        Unfortunately this time we do not have many days to spend in Australia, we reserve for Sydney and Melbourne one full day each only. We just want to make our short trip the way we can see all kinds of Australia: from beaches to Outback. While waiting for your reply we were advised not to take the Red Centre Way by 2WD full size car by other locals we have communicated, so I guess we will have to decide our route on place. Thanks again for all the information you share, this website really makes it to have a wish to spend in Outback much more time…

        • Amanda says:

          Hi Alex,
          As Gary drives on the Red Centre Way for his job as a ranger regularly, we can tell you that you COULD drive a 2WD on it -but it’s not recommended. However, many Aboriginal people drive on this road and they mostly drive ordinary sedans – not 4WDs- so I’m not sure which ‘locals’ your advice has come from, but it is simply not true that you cannot drive a 2WD on the Red Centre Way. The road is ‘4WD recommended’ by the government roads department – which is just a recommendation. That being said, I personally would not take a 2WD on the road, however many, many, many tourists do!

          It is a great shame that you have so little time here. hopefully, you will see how big Australia is, and how diverse, and return another time.

          • Alex says:

            Hi, Amanda. You convinced me ;), we will try to go Red Centre Way in a sedan! (we visiting Australia in the end of December). What road would you personally suggest to take – Namatjira drv or continue going Larapinta drv through Hermannsburg in regards for the landscape views? I don’t think we will have time to make stops after Kings Canyon in order to get to Alice Springs by sundown, so views from the car seats all we will be able to enjoy, I guess… Thank you.

          • Amanda says:

            Hi Alex,

            Whilst Namatjira Drive is more scenic, given the amount of time you’ve got, I don’t think it’s a wise choice as it will add another hour/hour and a half to your trip. You really need to stop and see the gorges and spectacular mountains on Namatjira Drive – otherwise you’re ripping yourself off.

            Are you sure you can’t give yourself one extra day in Central Australia? You trip just sounds like a lot of crazy, hard driving with long days and it will be hot and uncomfortable. You’re likely to leave central Australia hating it!

          • Alex says:

            Yes, we have a crazy driving – around 600 km a day. It’s not a problem for us, as in Russia we have big distances too, so for me it is no problem to drive to some city with return the same day 200 km one way. Taking in mind that it will be VERY hot as you say, we would anyway not be pleased spending outdoor much time, so it is better to drive and enjoy the views in a air-conditioned car, than wasting time in some air-conditioned restaurant. Thank you very much for your advice and all your help, we will go Namatjira drive then… And hope we will not hate Central Australia after such trip 😉

  • Kyle says:

    Our flight arrives in Alice Springs at 1:10 and we hope to have our baggage and rental car by 2:30pm. We booked our first night at Ayers Rock Resort. It will be July when we are traveling so sunset will be around 6pm which means we would be driving in the dark for an hour and a half. Do you recommend that we stay at Curtin Springs Road House instead of driving all the way to Uluru? Any other options? I think Erldunda Roadhouse will be too short of a drive. We will be driving back the same route couple days later and will have a full day so can make lots of stops on the way back to Alice Springs.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Kyle,

      I have a feeling that I’ve answered this question for another Canadian only a few weeks ago! We really, really, really advise against people flying into Alice and then driving 5 1/2 hours to Uluru immediately. The biggest killer of overseas tourists to the outback is getting off the plane and driving to Uluru – due to fatigue and the prevalence of camels and cattle on the road in the evenings. All tourist advice regarding Central Australia advises you NOT to drive on this road at night. In fact, some hire car companies will not allow their rental cars to be driven after sunset. I highly recommend that you stay in Alice Springs on the first night and spend the afternoon at the Alice Springs Desert Park -which is a living natural history museum- that will help you understand the plants, animals and Aboriginal culture of the landscape you’re about to drive through. You can even cuddle a kangaroo there, if that’s your fancy.

      This means that you would then have the following day to drive leisurely to Uluru from Alice – it does take 4.5-5.5 hours because it is 450 km from Alice Springs. Much, much safer.

      However, if you really must drive to Uluru straight off the plane, it would be reasonable to expect that you would be out of the airport around 2pm. Erldunda is probably a safer option to stay, as it’s only 2hrs away from Alice and means you won’t be travelling on the Lasseter Highway at night. There used to be the option of staying at Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse, which is about 60km further on from Erldunda, but it’s now closed. So really, the only choices are Curtin Springs or Erldunda.

      If you decide to leave Alice after your flight, make sure you carefully check your hire car contract. You may not be allowed to drive at night, which means you’ll have to stop at Erldunda. If I had to choose between a night at Erldunda and a night in Alice Springs, I’d choose Alice! Erldunda is fine to stay at – I’ve stayed there many times for work- but it’s a roadhouse, not a town.

      Anyway, your choice, but I hope you heed the suggestions about travelling at night on the Lasseter Highway and check your rental car’s agreement regarding travel at night.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

  • Christina says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I’m Christina, from Indonesia.
    I will travel to Australia in December. Do you think it’s a good idea to travel in Red Center because it’s summer? I probably will experience Christmas in Uluru. I’m afraid it will be very hot around there. Please kindly advise. Thank you very much 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Selamet pagi, Christina,

      Yes, it’s musim panas sekali in December and it will be VERY hot in the Red Centre (this is how we spell it in Australia). I’d advise that you do you outside activities, like walking & sightseeing early in the morning, and have somewhere that you can retreat to that’s air conditioned. Unfortunately, December is not the best month to visit the Red Centre! May is actually the best month.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

  • Dionne Russell says:

    Thank you for a great web site. My mother and I will be driving from Alice to Uluru in February next year. We will also be getting straight off the plane but luckily only from Melbourne. I was a bit concerned about the drive but you have answered all my questions and also put my mind at ease about the drive

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Dionne,

      Thank you for your kind comments. I’m glad you found the site useful. The drive to Uluru is long, but very, very easy… UNLESS you’re driving it at night – then it’s very dangerous due to cattle, camels and kangaroos.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

  • Vicki says:

    We are wanting to drive Adelaide -Alice Springs – Uluru (taking a couple of weeks to do this). However our car runs on gas. Is gas available on the way?

    • kelvin flory says:

      This past March we drove from Adelaide to Darwin in a rented LandCruiser. The trip took 12 days but we took side trips to Uluru/KataTjuta and then to Jabiru further north. We are from central US (Kansas). This was a fantastic trip and probably one of the most profound experiences of my life. We left Yulara and visited the KataTjutas one particular day, leaving there just before noon and arriving Kings Canyon around 4PM. Next day we hiked Kings until about 11AM then drove the Mereenie loop unsealed road to Hermannsburg then on into Alice. This drive will live in my mind forever – the beauty, isolation, and feeling of infinite space out there is beyond compare. The road was fairly rough but it’s rather wide in most places, so with a lot of weaving side-to-side it’s not too bad. We ran 50-70 km/hr most of the way. Arrived in Alice about 6PM. We didn’t really need 4WD but appreciated the toughness and range of this vehicle as opposed to a regular auto. A must-do for anyone wanting to really ‘see’ the Red Centre. (Next day we drove back west out of Alice along the Namitjira drive, hiking and enjoying the various gaps and gorges just off that route)

  • Martin says:

    Informative site. Did the drive Alice to Uluru on a time frame 6am start back to motel at 4pm.
    Uluru every Australian should go there.

  • Dan says:

    Very, very detailed information, unlike other sites.
    Very helpful in planning and organizing our trip.
    Great work, Thank you.

  • Damian says:

    Hello!

    Need some advice ASAP.

    I’m planning on driving to Uluru from Alice Springs, but don’t want to do the Stuart Hwy and Lasseter Hwy.
    can I drive from Alice springs to Ayers Rock on the LURITJA RD with a 2WD SUV I believe that some of this road is unsealed. Do I need permits aswell?..

  • Steve says:

    Excellent site, thank you for putting it together.
    Even after a year of looking at places to go and things to do I’m still finding it to comprehend how big Australia really is.

  • Jody says:

    Thanks for the information posted here it is fantastic. We arrive in Alice, from Adelaide, on the Friday but don’t plan to drive out to Uluru until Saturday. given the outback is alive with animals at night, would you advise us to wait until the sun is really up before we set out or is it safe at the dawn hours? We wanted to do the drive in a day but make a couple of the interesting stops you have suggested. We will only be in a 2wd, so will only take 2wd access routes. However, we may think of doing an over night at one of these stops. We have 5 days and also want to take in Kings Canyon. Is it easier to go to Kings Canyon before going onto Uluru or do Uluru before Kings Canyon. Any information would be much appreciated.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Jody,

      1. Firstly I STRONGLY, STRONGLY suggest that you before you go anywhere, you visit the Alice Springs Desert Park and learn about the countryside, plants, SEE the animals and birds that live there up close in walk through habitats, and learn about the Aboriginal culture of the amazing places you’ll be seeing. This takes about 3 hours and is located in Alice Springs. If I could say this any louder, I would! Go and see this incredible safari-nature park/natural-cultural history museum BEFORE you go. You will not regret it & will truly get a local’s understanding of what you’re seeing.

      2. The main part of the road which is dangerous is actually the Lasseter Highway (not the Stuart Hwy), so if you did want to leave at dawn, it would be at least 2 hours before you got to the Lasseter Highway and by then the sun would be up. More tourists are killed on the Lasseter Hwy than any other road in the NT – because of speed, fatigue and animals, so this is the road to drive carefully on.

      3. I would go to Uluru-Kata Tjuta first and then Kings Canyon (Watarrka) on the way back, via the fully sealed Luritja Road. You will have to back-track when you return to Alice Springs along the Luritja Road, Lasseter Hwy and Stuart Hwy. This journey takes around 6 hours.

  • John G Skene says:

    Hi Amanda , I’m taking my 85yo mum(fit & ambulatory)on her’bucket list’and after Darwin/Kakadu we hit the Alice. My plan was after 2 days in town leave early am and head to the Rock with several stops along the way as per your road trip and spend the arvo looking around, the Olgas etc, sunset then next morning after another look around head back for the night in Alice before back to Sydney. Do you think for the trip back via Kings Canyon is doable as we have all day and I know she would love to see it as well and with stops/site seeing how long would you guesstimate ?? Probably be only a 2wd but reading your previous it is all sealed I believe? Thanks for your input , you do a Great Job !! Cheers , Skeney.

  • Nathan says:

    Hi Amanda

    We are a little pushed for time, and just have one day to travel from Uluru to King’s Canyon in a 2WD, and hoping to do the Rim Walk the same day. We are travelling in a couple of weeks, is there enough daylight hours to feasibly do this?

    Thanks

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Nathan,

      Thank you so much for asking a question.

      It should take you about 3 hours if you drive straight through. The Rim Walk usually takes people about 3-4 hours – so you should be ok. Sun is setting around 6pm at the moment, with last light fading from the sky around half an hour later. I think the main thing at the moment is that it’s FREEZING cold up here, so make sure you bring proper winter clothing and a beanie – Amanda 🙂

  • Joanne says:

    Hi Amanda,
    My husband and I are thinking of travelling to Aireys Rock with a 4WD however we want to bring our outback caravan 23’6 ft with us, is this possible? As we haven’t traveled that way and not sure if the caravan that big of a size is restricted. We are travelling from Melbourne and also if you can tell us the best way to get to Aireys Rock would be much appreciated. And whats the best season/month to travel for this?
    And is their caravan sites near by and any other info we would need to know to have a safe and fun travel to this beautiful place.
    Cheers
    Jo

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Jo,

      You can travel to Uluru (Ayers Rock) easily with a large caravan. The campground at Yulara has large powered sites and is located in a very nice setting. If you read the articles on the site, you’ll see that we recommend MAY as the best month to visit the Red Centre. This is because it isn’t too hot and it isn’t too cold. Throughout June-August we get night time temperatures of below zero Celsius (last night it was -2C here in Alice!). Also, in May there are no school holidays, so it’s not as crowded at Uluru.

      If I was driving from Melbourne to Ayers Rock, I’d have to ask if you wanted to go via Adelaide or not? If you DID wish to go via Adelaide, it’s just a matter of picking which way you’d like to go, then once you’re ready to leave Adelaide and head north on Port Wakefield Road and follow the highway to Port Augusta (330km) then cross the big bridge in Port Augusta and head up the Stuart Hwy for 900km until you get to Erldunda. At Erldunda, turn left and you’re on the Lasseter Highway and only 245km to Yulara (which is the little resort town near Uluru where all the accommodation and caravan parks are).

      If you wanted to skip Adelaide, then you’ve got the choice of the Western Highway (A8) and skirting around Adelaide by going through the Barossa Valley when you get to Murray Bridge. This is how I would go if I didn’t want to go to Adelaide: up through Ouyen to Mildura, go across through Renmark and then turn onto the Goyder Highway go to Morgan, then follow the B64 through Burra, Spalding and Crystal Brook (stop at the bakery in Crystal Brook – actually most bakeries and pubs in South Australia are awesome!), then head north on the Princes Highway to Port Augusta and follow the directions above. We have a second house on the Murray River near Morgan and this is the way we drive down from Alice Springs a lot of the time… the rest of the time we get very bored on the Stuart Highway and go via the Oodnadatta Track and stop over with family at Roxby Downs.

      Anyway, I hope this helps and please get in touch again if you need anymore advice.

      Amanda

  • Janice says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the website – very informative and gives a sense of what to expect.
    Myself and 2 other friends are planning to visit the Outback in October. We’re flying in from Melbourne and are constrained by flight timings. Just a few questions

    1) How much daylight can we expect in October
    2) We arrive in Alice Springs at 1110h. I have noted that you strongly encourage travellers to spend time in Alice Springs before embarking on a long 5.5 hour drive to Uluru, but say we had to do it due to time contraints, is it possible for us to reach Uluru before dusk falls?
    3) Our flight from Alice Springs to Melbourne is at 1155h and we’re departing from Kings Canyon. Is it possible for us to start driving on the same morning itself and reach there in time for the flight or would you reccomend we split the journey?
    4) How cold does it get in October and would we need thick jackets?

    Thanks in advance for your kind advice!
    Janice

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Janice,

      Thank you so much for your kinds comments and your questions. So it’s easy to follow, I’ll answer your numbered questions in the same style.

      1. You can expect 10 hours of daylight on average in October.

      2. Yes, if you mean 11am (ten minutes past eleven in the morning), you would be able to drive to Uluru safely before nightfall. However, if your flight arrives at 13.10 (ten past one in the afternoon, then by the time you pick up your hire car and get out of the airport, you will be cutting it fine AND driving directly into the setting sun on what is the number one road for tourist fatalities in the NT. Please don’t do this. Spend a night in Alice and spend the afternoon at the Alice Springs Desert Park. You will appreciate what you’re about to see SO much more if you spend 3 hours at the Desert Park – part safari park, part natural history & Aboriginal cultural heritage centre. I REALLY urge you to spend a night here! We’ll even come and meet you 🙂

      3. As I’m not sure which way you are driving back to Alice, I’ll let you know the times for a couple of different routes. Via the Ernest Giles Road (4WD only) it takes 4hrs. Via the Luritja Road and Lasseter Hwy, you’re looking at 6 hours. I’ll leave it up to you, but my answer is unless you’re going to get up at 4am and drive back to Alice (in the dark), I really think this is unrealistic and splitting the journey far is more realistic.

      4. Whilst we usually get very pleasant 28-32C days through October, we can still get coolish nights (12-14C). I’d bring a fleece and some long sleeved tee shirts so you can layer for warmth.

      Hope this helps – please get in touch again if you need any more help 🙂 Amanda

  • Janice says:

    Thanks Amanda, this is all very very helpful information and I will definitely seriously consider visiting the Alice Springs Desert Park and if so, I’d hope to meet you 🙂

    Having read your responses and alot of other related articles you have posted on your website (all extremely useful!!), I plan to spend Mon – Wed at Uluru and depart on Thurs for Kings Canyon. I hope to also fit in the Canyon Rim walk on Friday, after which we will begin the drive back to Alice Springs upon your advice to split the journey since the only flight timing back to Melbourne is at 1155am. Would you also be able to advise on where would be a good midway pit stop for the drive back to Alice Springs from Kings Canyon? We currently do not have plans to get a 4WD so I guess the way back is Luritja Road and Lasseter Hwy?

    I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to update the website and answer my queries. I’m from Singapore; learnt all about the great Outback more than 10 years ago and it has always been my goal to get out there someday!

    thanks! Janice

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Janice,

      Sorry it’s taken me a little while to reply – I’ve been out of internet range. I would suggest Erldunda Desert Oaks Roadhouse , on the corner of the Stuart & Lasseter Highways. They have motel-style (basic) rooms and cheaper backpackers’ rooms. I’ve stayed there several times for work, it’s ok. You meet lots of nice Grey Nomads travelling around if you have a meal and a drink in the bar during the evening.

      Hope this helps,

      Amanda

  • E Tan says:

    I found your guide extremely useful – gives us lots of ideas what to expect and what to do – we are planning to visit in about a month. It has set me thinking though – we fly in from Adelaide at about noon and were planning to drive straight to Ayers Rock (2 drivers) – would that still be feasible if we factor in a quick lunch at Stuart Wells Roadhouse?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi there, glad you found the guide useful.

      BUT>>>>>

      Driving straight to Uluru is the BIGGEST mistake that many inexperienced travellers to the outback make. We hear from people time and time again that they didn’t realise how much of a destination Alice Springs is in itself, so I really do implore you to stay here for the night, go and check out the Alice Springs Desert Park and then have sunset drinks at Simpsons Gap. THe next day you can drive at a leisurely pace to Uluru. Yes, you can stop at Stuarts Well for lunch, or at Erldunda Roadhouse, too.

  • Keith Bishop says:

    Hi
    I have just chanced across your web pages as the result of a search “driving to Ayres Rock”. Very helpful – thank you.

  • Keith Bishop says:

    Sorry pressed the post button too soon!!
    We will be visiting from Auckland and have to be in Sydney on 8th May 2015 We are planning to drive to Ayres Rock during the preceding week. Looks as if we will have to fly to Alice Springs and then back to Sydney – we will be in no rush so plan to stay at Alice Springs as you suggest and possibly even on the way if there are places to stay?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Keith,

      All of the roadhouses mentioned in this article have accommodation available, so that shouldn’t be a problem. The accommodation varies, but if you expect a basic, clean 3 star country motel -like you would get in NZ- that would describe most places. I’ve stayed at Erldunda in the motel units, and at Curtin Springs. The service at Curtin Springs is pretty awful at the moment, and the meals are a bit of a rip off, but the accommodation is ok. Just make sure you book in advance.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

  • Peter says:

    Hi, This is a great resource thanks.

    I am planning a trip for the family and have a couple of questions that I hope you can help with. We would like to see some of the outback and I don’t really want to just ‘fly’ over it. I was hoping to drive from Alice – Kings Canyon – Ayers.

    Can this be done on sealed roads as the info on this page talks about partially sealed roads to Kings Canyon?

    Do you know if we hire a car at Alice, can we leave it at Ayers (maybe I should just check with the hire people).

    When in Ayers, is having a car useful and will we be able to drive to the rock, or do we still take ‘tours’?

    Thanks in advance.

    P.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for you kind words about the post and I’m really glad you’ve found it useful in planning your trip.

      More importantly, I’m REALLY glad you’ve decided not to fly!

      Can this trip be done on sealed roads -including Kings Canyon?

      The answer is yes, it can be done entirely on sealed roads.

      The only drawback to driving entirely on sealed roads is that it involves backtracking.

      To get to Kings Canyon on sealed roads, you need to drive as if you’re going to Uluru along the Lasseter Highway. You turn off the Lasseter Highway after 107km, turning right onto the Luritja Road. This is sealed all the way to Kings Canyon (approx.170km).

      I would anticipate that you will stay over night at Kings Canyon (we recommend Kings Creek Station rather than the Kings Canyon ‘Resort’). To go to Uluru, you simply return south along the Luritja Road and then turn right and drive the 150km (approx) to Uluru/Yulara.

      I would strongly recommend that you have your own vehicle at Uluru. From Yulara (the little town which is the ONLY place you can stay), Uluru itself is 18km away. Kata Tjuta is 50km away. The shuttle bus to take you to both places costs an outrageous $90 per person per day). Read more about planning for Uluru here.

      In regards to hiring cars, we’ve written VERY detailed pages on the hidden costs of hire cars in the outback here , hire cars in Alice Springs here.

      I really hope this information helps- please let us know if you need any more information. We’re always happy to help,

      Cheers, Amanda

  • Peter says:

    Thanks again for this extremely helpful advice Amanda. I have had a good look around at the recommendations.
    I am still deciding what is going to be the best thing for us. We are planning on coming to Aus next year in your winter and will probably get the ‘cheap’ seats on the Ghan from Adelaide to Alice. We have two teenagers and are planning on spending about 4 days in the outback and obviously would like to see Ayers Rock. The Ghan gets into Alice at about 1:45pm, so I expect that we would spend the first night here and then head off the next day? My plan was to go to Kings Canyon and then to Ayers on sealed roads, but with the ‘back-tracking’, this looks like a long trip. We would want to leave the car in Ayers and fly to Cairns as the end, so what would you recommend for the 4 days? Would Kata Tjuta be a good replacement for Kings Canyon, or would you stick with the original plan?
    Thanks again for your help.
    P.

  • Darryl Rhodes says:

    Really useful info especially for someone on limited time. Much appreciated

  • Irene says:

    Amazing breakdown of this trip. Your insights have helped a lot. Thanks!

  • Kay says:

    Gosh Amanda.. I have just started researching a trip to Uluru and there is so much to consider. I’m so glad that I came across your blog.

    Still have some tough decisions to make as to how to do this trip in 6-7 days economically but at the same time being able to fit it all in and have some chill out time as well!

    We live in Coffs Harbour.

    Just read your links about hire car wich we are consdering to save on tour costs. Just not sure at this stage whether to come via Brisbane to Alice, hire a car to take us to Uluru or fly direct into Yulara (via Sydney), hire a car there and just do trips from there eg: Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon (staying overnight) and taking out Alice of the equation altogether?!

    Food for thought.

    Regards Kay

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Kay,

      In 6 or 7 days you’ve definitely got enough time to see both Alice Springs and Uluru.

      My advice is NOT to miss Alice Springs. Accommodation is not only far less than in Uluru (we’ve even got Air BnB places here), there’s a lot more to see and do in Alice than there is at the Rock. Spend a day or two in Alice before you go to Uluru; go to the Alice Springs Desert Park, the Alice Springs Telegraph Station (where the original Alice ‘Spring’ is), and check out Simpsons Gap and maybe even Standley Chasm. Just going to the Desert Park will enrich your trip in so many ways.

      We recommend two nights, three days at Uluru. This really does give you plenty of time to see everything and have time to relax. You could either find a one-way hire that would let you finish at Uluru and fly out from there, or you could hop on one way tour. Conversely, you could fly to Uluru and then out in Alice.

      I hope this helps, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch again if you’ve got any other questions.

      Amanda

  • Jenn says:

    Sigh I adore all of the advice I’ve been getting in cairns from the locals about how stupid my idea is to drive in the Red Centre so thought I would just pop a comment on here and see if it’s ok? This is our plan for mid March this year.

    My friend and I are both women in our late twenties and plan to hire a standard Toyota Yaris. The plan is to stay overnight when we land (from perth) in Alice, then drive the next morning along the main highways to Uluru to stay there 2 nights. Stopping at the various stops you mentioned along the way. We are then driving the day after to Kings Canyon to stay overnight and then do the walk early the next morning, before driving back to Alice that lunchtime/afternoon.

    For some reason everyone we have spoken to has said we are mad, either we are going to kill ourselves on the road, get murdered walking in the canyon, or get attacked (or worse) in Alice springs. Is it really that unsafe and lawless, we had thought our plans seemed safe and pretty much normal, but everyone thinks we won’t come back?! Did I miss something?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Jenn,

      Amanda here: I drive to Uluru for work ON MY OWN. I’ve driven there and to Kings Canyon (Watarrka) many, many times. I’ve driven to Kings Canyon on the bitumen highways and on both dirt roads ALL ALONE. You are NOT mad to do this and nothing will happen to you. I can’t believe that ignorant people are telling you that you’re mad! These are busy, high grade, bitumen highways!

      As for it being violent in Alice Springs: what a joke! I walk to work everyday. Alone. I’ve lived here for 15 years and raised my children here. Alice Springs is no more dangerous than any other country town – and it’s a lot LESS dangerous than most cities.

      Ignore this ignorant advice and take it from a REAL Alice Springs local: nothing will happen to you! Just don’t drive at night on the Lasseter Highway as there’s a LOT of cattle and camels. I drove back from here on Thursday this week. I’m still alive. Lol.

      I’d love to meet you both before you set off to Uluru and buy you a drink. Let me know if you’d like to catch up.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

  • Roman Golubev says:

    Beware of cows. They wander around certain sections of Lasseter Highway and there are no fences along the highway.

  • Rob Sykes says:

    Wonderful site!! You have confirmed that what Sue and I plan is perfect. Yes, we will use Central Car hire. Our idea is to fly Bris – Alice. Stay in Alice for 3 days (Sue wishes to go to Hermansburg) and then we drive to Ayres Rock. I was there in December some 30 years ago (backpacking and perhaps a bit silly) and it was warmer than ideal. This time we wish to go in April. The only real change is that 30 years ago I slept below 5 zillion stars, now it is only 5…..

    As for driving at night. I have done my fair share of dodging emus, roos and cattle at night. Not a good move. This is to be avoided at all costs.

    Thanks so much

    Rob

  • Steve says:

    Amanda, we have arrived in Alice Springs today. We are confused regarding seeing the Ullura sunset as we are staying in Yulara and understand we should not drive at dusk. So, how will we get to see the sunset? Many thanks

  • david heads says:

    Spent several hrs on various sections of your site today planning a trip to drive Alice – Uluru. Can you clear up something. In the driving guide you say you can drive the red centre way in a 2wd which from my reading includes Larijita Rd after you leave Kings Canyon heading South, but at the top of this page state Lurijita Rd is 4wd drive only. Am I getting this wrong?
    thanks and keep up the good work with your site

  • Rhonda says:

    I have just planned our trip from WA to Alice Springs and return for August. Wish I had found this website before I made some of my arrangements, although a lot of your comprehensive information we will be able to use. Can I offer my absolute congratulations on an amazing website. We look forward to our trip and using the information we have gained from you. Thank you so much, will certainly be better off for having found your website. Wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone, especially for people from overseas or those who have not ventured into our wonderful outback before, and even those that have. Thank you again and keep up the great work.

  • Rhonda says:

    Could I ask you a couple of questions please? We have a Mazda CX7 Turbo, which is all wheel drive – would we be able to go to Palm Valley in that? Also from what you have said in your article, am I correct in thinking we should be okay driving round the outer loop of the Red Centre Way?

    The other query is: Do you have any idea what the road to Ackaringa Station and the Painted Desert is like coming in from Cagney? I understand it is 80 km approximately? Bearing in mind the make of our all wheel drive? Thank you in advance for your reply. If you could send the information to my email address that would be wonderful.

    • Natasha says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Noticed this poster requested you email directly, but I am also curious about Palm Valley. Have been told that you could get part of the way in a 2WD (from a friend of a friend who just returned from there), but then read that you need at the very least high clearance to do Palm Valley. What is your opinion? I’ll be visiting in just over a week (I’m a really late planner). Thanks!, Great site, super helpful!

      • Gary says:

        Hi, sorry we’ve both been busy or away. The biggest issue is with the build up of sand that forms between the wheel ruts. You will no doubt be able to get some of the way but closer in the sand gets deeper and causes problems with low clearance vehicles. cheers Gary

  • Shannon says:

    Hi Amanda…thank you for this amazing resource!

    Apologies in advance for this question, but I would love your thoughts on some plans I am making for late May 2016. My parents are coming out from the US with two of their friends, and my husband and I want to bring them on a visit to Uluru/Alice. We are planning on driving to Alice after a few days in Uluru. We have plenty of time to cover the distance during the daylight hours.

    I am thinking the Stuart/Lasseter Hwys route is the safest, but my concern is it will not give them enough Outback flavour. I want them to enjoy the spectacular beauty we enjoyed on our trip out last year, but I am concerned about guiding them off the beaten path. I have nightmares about being lost in the bush with four 70 yo. in tow. One woman in particular is not super ambulatory.

    Can you suggest anything that would keep us mostly to the main roads but also give them the opportunity to appreciate the amazing landscapes? We will not have time for Kings Canyon, although my hubs and I really loved the rim walk.

    Thank you so much!

  • Maree says:

    Hi Amanda, I also have found your website super helpful.
    I know i will be charged a one-way rental fee, but I think I will hire a 2wd one-way to avoid doing the return drive Ayers Rock/Alice , as I am doing all of the driving (travelling with my 13 & 11yr old).

    What do you think of this itinerary?
    Alice 2nts, Glen Helen 2nts, Kings Canyon 1night, Ayers Rock 3-4 nights.
    I wil have to drive from Glen Helen to Kings the long way, which looks like a 7hr drive. Won’t be able to do Meerenie loop,as I have rental 2wd.

    Should I break the 7hr drive at Alice for a night? I am confident on 2-4 hour trips as I live in a regional area.

    Would really appreciate your take on this.
    Thanks
    Maree

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Marree,

      We are currently travelling and won’t be able to give a detailed reply until Tuesday.

      Gary & Amanda

      • Maree says:

        Thanks! Didn’t mean to look impatient, but my post disappeared, so I thought it was lost in cyberland, so re-posted. Enjoy your trip.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Maree,

      Your itinerary is great, although I’d stay at Two Mile or Ormiston Gorge rather than Glen Helen, unless you can’t camp. There are hot showers in the campground at Ormiston Gorge, and Two Mile (directly opposite the Glen Helen turn off) is free bush camping.

      As for breaking the long drive, that’s really up to you. Really the question is what kind of experience do you want to have – and we’d always recommend slow travel over big distances where you don’t have time to scratch yourself!

      Hope this helps,

      Amanda

  • Maree says:

    Hi, planning a trip to the Centre & would be interested to have your input.
    I will be hiring a 2wd to do Glen Helen, Kings Canyon & Uluru. Looks like the only route to take from Glen Helen to Kings Canyon is to go back to Alice & then Lasseter Highway, which I think will take just over 6hrs. That’s a fair hike when I will be doing all of the driving (travelling with 11yo + 13yo).
    Should I break the journey for a night at Alice? I know it will only knock 1.5hr from total journey time, but 5hrs is manageable, 6.5hr just pushing it a bit.
    Thanks
    Maree

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Maree,

      I’d suggest either breaking the journey in Alice -there’s SO MUCH to see and do here, you could easily spend two weeks- OR you could break the night at one of the roadhouses along the way:

      Stuarts Well
      Erldunda
      Mt Ebenezer

      Hope this helps,

      Amanda

      • Maree says:

        Thanks Amanda, that is really helpful. Hadn’t thought about stopping at one of the road houses, will re-jig my itinerary around stopping in back at Alice or a road house.

  • Alison says:

    What a great reference site – thanks for the detailed info! I am planning a trip with my 5 year-old son in late September/October this year and will drive from Sydney and spend at least 4 weeks traveling this area. I am so looking forward to it although was hesitant at first travelling alone with my little man but I’ve read a lot and have replaced the concern with excitement! I’m taking my small hatchback so it’s great to know I’ll still be able to access most places. Thanks again!

    • Gary says:

      Thank you, we are glad our site has helped you out. You’ll have a ball and there is plenty for you and your son to do!

  • Pete Dreyer says:

    Love your work, well done.
    We are heading up from Adelaide on Friday 14th Aug taking caravans, plan is Glendambo 1st night, and then probably Kulgera 2nd night and then through to Uluru(3 nights), Kings Canyon(2 nights), Alice(3 nights) and then West MacDonnells (4nights).If time okay maybe 1-2 nights East Macdonnells.
    We are planning on staying at Ormiston Gorge. How many sites are available and whats the trick to securing good sites? I guess get in early, and pot luck?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Pete,

      There’s about 20 sites at Ormiston and our only tip is to get there about MORNING TEA time – 10:30. Straight from the ranger’s (that would be Gary’s) mouth.

      Hope this helps,

      Amanda & Gary

  • Alison says:

    Hi Amanda & Gary,
    I’ll be travelling in my little hatchback so I’m assuming I can’t do the mereelie loop…. But I can go out to glen Helen I think so I’ll have to backtrack to Alice again the next day and down to the Lasseter highway at erldunda…. Then out to alice for a few days…. Then on the way back can I get up to kings canyon on a sealed road? I’d really love to see it!
    Much thanks, your website is so great, I’ve read it all very thoroughly and it’s helped plan my trip really well. I’m travelling with my 5 year-old so I don’t want to drive too much in any given day, lots of stopovers for us!
    Ali

    • Alison says:

      Sorry I meant out to Uluru for a few days after erldunda, not alice!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Alison,

      Thanks for your comment. You won’t be able to do the Mereenie Loop (Red Centre Way) in a little hatchback unless you’re ready for lots of corrugations! I don’t recommend it, even though -technically- the Mereenie is just a dirt road. It can be rough on vehicles.

      It’s bitumen to Glen Helen (and all the way around to Gosse Bluff/Tnorala, actually), so you’ll have no problems going there.

      To get to Kings Canyon (proper name: Watarrka) via the bitumen on the way back from Uluru, turn off at the Red Centre Way/Luritja Road which is about 108km from Yulara (that’s the little town near Uluru where you have no choice but to stay unless you’re free camping). You will have to backtrack, though, and go back down the Luritja Road and then onto the Lasseter Highway and then out onto the Stuart Highway. We definitely DO NOT recommend taking a 2WD on the Ernest Giles Road (which is halfway along the Luritja Road) unless you want to get bogged in sand.

      Hope this helps & please don’t hesitate to ask any us other questions,

      Amanda

  • Peter says:

    Hi Amanda
    Your information on this site is fantastic and will help us navigate our way to Uluru. My wife and I are planning a trip from Goulburn(NSW) to Uluru for the whole month of April. The question I have for you is that we will be travelling in a very large motorhome- 12 meters long and 15.5 tonne light!!! Taking into account the road trips not recommended for non 4WD vehicles, are the roads suitable for a vehicle of our size?I think our trip from Adelaide to Uluru will take longer than 4 days, but having 4 weeks up our sleeve we should make it there and back. Considering we will be carrying sufficient fuel and fresh water, is there any other advice you can give us to reduce the stress of driving this large vehicle across to the red centre? Thank you for your advice in advance.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Peter,

      Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. We haven’t had very good internet until today, and I’ve been unable to load emails, etc. If you’re only going to Uluru, your motorhome will be fine. You’ll be driving on main highway – think of the old Hume Highway before they did the Goulburn Bypass twenty odd years ago, only straighter and a little wider, and that is the kind of road you’ll be travelling on. Otherwise, my main advice is to beware of animals – there are LOTS of cattle and camels on the Lasseter Highway, and lots of kangaroos and emus on the Stuart Highway in South Australia. Also be aware that there are many overseas tourists on the Lasseter Highway who have very little experience driving on Australian roads and can be a nuisance in this area – especially when they forget to drive on the left!

      Hope this helps,

      Amanda & Gary

  • phil says:

    Hi plan to travel from melb to Darwin in may .. have hiace camper can you recommend the best sites {unpowered fine ) along the stuart hwy .. we then plan to travel to Broome .. down to Perth then back to Melbourne over 3.. 4 months .. our retirement trip so appreciate any advice .

    great site
    thankyou

  • Margaret says:

    Thank you for the wonderful detailed site and advice! If I had found this sooner I definitely would have planned more time in central Oz. My friend and I are trying to decide whether to rent a car or just take one of the one day tours. We are flying in to ASP Friday afternoon and flying out Sunday evening. If we drove I think we could drive to Uluru very early Sat, spend Sat night there, watch the sunrise and drive back in time for our flight. Or, we could simply do the tour for 200. I imagine the cost is about the same once your factor in gas and insurance.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Margaret,

      Hmmm… you really should be flying to Uluru, not Alice Springs, given you have a such short amount of time here and it takes 5 hours each way to drive from Alice to Uluru. If you can’t change your flights, I’d recommend the tour option. A lot less hassle and you can be picked up from the door of your hotel. Emu Run are the tour operators we’d recommend for this.

      However, I would seriously consider spending more time here -at least two more days. You need at two full days at Uluru-Kata Tjuta to justify the expense of your initial flights and to truly experience this magic, life changing destination. Don’t rip yourself off in this regard – especially if you are never likely to visit Uluru again. Try and squeeze another two days here in the outback. I promise that you won’t regret it.

  • Naomi says:

    I’m so pleased to have found your site! I’m in the early stages of planning a trip with my Dad and three children in July this year from Brisbane to Alice via Cloncurry on the Barkly, and then, after seeing as much of the Red Centre as possible, we’re contemplating returning to Brisbane via the Stuart Hway and Broken Hill. We have 2/2.5 weeks, travelling in an 8-seater, and will be sticking to sealed roads during the day, and camping at night… Is there a site you know of that would give me the best and most current information regarding camping, that includes cost and amenities and rules (ie whether campfires are permitted etc)? Also, I’d be keen to treat Dad to a 4-wheel-drive experience, so wondering if you have any recommendations…
    Thank you so much for providing such a well-informed site!

  • Julia says:

    Thank you for all your information!!! It really help me to be more confident all the way to Alice Springs. We are now heading Cairs: do you think it’s alright to do that road with a 2W car? We are planning to stay in the highways the hole time. Any extra recommendation?

  • Hi Amanda,
    So love reading your posts!
    WE will visit the Desert Park the day we arrive and then the next day we have only till 3pm free…
    So in that time frame and given we dont want to do a big road trip the day before our drive to Uluru what would you suggest?
    Ormiston Gorge, Big Ellery, Stanley Chasm, Simpsons Gap or Ochre Pits?
    and /or Telegraph Site + Anzac Hill? Any times of the day better than others for the areas you recommend?
    We are coming back next year too – so dont need to do it all in one day!

    We actually needed another day!

  • Greg says:

    Hi. This is a great facility.
    I am contemplating hiring a vehicle to drive from Alice Springs to Uluru via the bitumen and then return via the Mereenie Loop / Red Centre Way. I am thinking of hiring a two wheel drive “Venturer” camper from Britz. If you don’t know them, have a look at their web site.
    My question is: do you think that vehicle would handle the dirt road section between Kings Canyon and Glen Helen?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Greg,

      Yes, whilst I personally wouldn’t drive a 2WD on the Red Centre Way, many others have -hippy vans, sedans, Britz vehicles. You don’t need 4WD per se, there are no difficult creek crossings or rough, rocky parts – it’s a wide, rough, well-formed dirt road. The reason we recommend 4WD on this road is that in order to ‘skate’ over the corrugations so you get a smoother ride, you need to be able to travel safely at 80-90km/h. At this speed, being able to put your vehicle in 4WD so it ‘grips’ the road better is a HUGE advantage.

      That said, I would CHECK with Britz first, though, if you’re permitted to take this kind of vehicle on this road. They are very strict about this and you could find yourself up for thousands of dollars if anything went wrong, and lose all of your deposit.

      If you are permitted by the hire company to take this road, then keep in mind that sections of it are VERY corrugated, it will be rough, but it’s really only 2-3 hours and it’s done.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

      • Greg says:

        Thanks Amanda.
        Very informative, sound and sensible advice.
        You are a legend.
        I get in to Alice Springs on Friday 29th April, so still have a few days to suss out the hire company conditions.
        Keep up the good work.

        • R-P says:

          Did you ever do this, Greg?
          We’ll be driving a Britz Frontier (13th of Oct for a couple of days) partly because the Safari 4wd version was no longer available.
          And I’d like to be as adventurous as I can with minimal risk to damage or disagreements with the rentalcompany…

  • Esther says:

    Hey
    Great site with lots of consistent information which is better than the conflicting advice of other sites/books.
    We are heading up from Adelaide to Uluru and then on to Alice Springs. Just trying to figure out the best stop over points so that we are not driving too long. 7 days in total then fly out of Alice. Initial thoughts were first stop Port Augusta but having read some of the previous posts am wondering if we should go further? Pick up the vehicle early morning from Adelaide. Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks again

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Esther,

      It’s hard to give really general advice. Let me know what kinds of things you’re interested in and what kind of experience you’d like to have. It’s only 3 hours from the outskirts of Adelaide up to Port Augusta. There are a fair few things to see and do around Port Augusta (the Wadlata Outback Centre, and MUST SEE Arid Zone Botanic Garden, for example). However, if you’re after a more ‘outback’ experience, keep driving up the Stuart Highway to either Woomera or Glendambo and stay the night.

      Anyway, let me know and I’ll try to give you more specific advice.

  • Remmelt says:

    Hello Amanda,
    Coming from Adelaide with a rented 2WD to Uluru (driving in 3 days?) we are planning to stay 2 or 3 days around Uluru and going to Alice Springs (and further to Cairns) by using the Red Centre Way. How long is the unsealed part of the road from King’s Canyon to the junction Larapinta Dr/Namatjira Dr (in km and time)?From this junction. From this point the Namatjira Dr to Alice Springs is bitumen?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Remmelt,

      It’s about 170km from Kings Canyon to the bitumen at the Gosse Bluff/Namatjira Road turn off. From there,the trip back to Alice through the West MacDonnell Ranges is ALL BITUMEN

  • Gregor RESCH says:

    Amanda

    Thank you very much for this super informative site, I can only congratulate you to the tons of information that I’ve found here.
    Still I have not really found what I am seeking for.
    We will be traveling Australia during August this year and will drive from Darwin via Kakadu NP and Kathrine down to Alice Springs. According to our individual driving plan we will then have two full days before we have to get our flight from Alice Springs to Adelaide on the third day at 1:30 pm.
    Now my question is, if it makes sense and if at all it is possible to do, if we drive down to Uluru on the first day via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways, thus arriving there in due time to visit Ayers Rock during sunset and on the next day visit Kata-Tjuta and the valley of the winds during early sunrise, before leaving for driving back to Alice Springs, but then and that’s the main question, via the Mereenie Loop.
    I do understand that this is a very long drive and we wouldn’t have too much time to stop in between. We will be traveling with a 4WD Landcruiser, thus the vehicle will be capable of driving the roads with decent speeds.
    Alternatively we could leave Alice Springs in the very early morning and then drive to Uluru via the Mereenie Loop if that would make more sense. I just would really like to avoid driving on the Stuart and Lasseter Highways both directions. However as there’s just so much to see, we would most probably not be able to arrive at Alice one day earlier.
    I would be very pleased if you could give me some advice, what you would think would mom sense and we are well aware that our timing is thighs, however we will be very well acclimatized when we arrive at Alice, as we will be in Australia for more then two weeks until then.
    I do already thank you very much for any advice,
    Kindest regards
    Gregor

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Gregor,

      I’m afraid that you are not allowing yourself enough time to safely travel the route you’d like to take. Driving from Alice to Uluru via the Lasseter and Stuart Hwy is ok – you’ve got enough time. HOWEVER, from what I am reading, you simply do not have enough time to do what you’re planning to do.

      Here’s a real time breakdown of what you want to do:

      DAY 1: Drive Alice to Uluru (480km) 5 hours.

      DAY 2:
      Drive from Uluru to Kata Tjuta (50km) 30 min.
      Walk the Valley of the Winds – 3 hours.
      Drive from Kata Tjuta to Kings Canyon (356km) – 3.5 hours.
      Kings Canyon to West MacDonnell Ranges and then Alice Springs via Mereenie Loop (please note that it is now called ‘the Red Centre Way’) approx. 410km – 5-6 hours

      The second day is 10 hours driving, plus 3 hours of walking. You will be driving the last part AT NIGHT as it’s winter here in August and the sun goes down earlier.

      This is completely unrealistic, and your hire car company will probably not let you drive at night. Most do not. Also note that YOU MUST NOT SPEED on the ‘Mereenie Loop’. Overseas drivers roll vehicles on this road all the time because they are not experienced in these conditions.

      SOLUTION:

      You need an extra day to do this OR drive back to Alice the same way.
      If you just wanted to see Kings Canyon, then you could drive there and then drive back to Alice via the Ernest Giles Road, however, this is still going to be a long, long day.

      Whatever you do, I urge you to think about the experience you want to have and your family’s safety first rather than trying to squeeze everything in.

      Amanda

      • Gregor says:

        Dear Amanda

        Thank you very much for your answer. This was exactly what I anticipated from my own research and be assured I really do not want to squeeze something in which does not make any sense at all or even rush anything.
        I just wanted to confirm my own findings and really, really appreciate your comment.

        Kind regards
        Gregor

  • Alison Young says:

    This is so helpful!! Thank you! Just one question… you mentioned that you recommend Kings Creek Station over Kings Canyon Resort for accommodation at Kings Canyon. What are the reasons for this? We are caravanning and would be booking a powered site, obviously 5 mins from the canyon sounds better than half an hour, but is it worth the longer distance for the accommodation? Thanks, Alison

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Alison,

      Not sure if you’ve read our Kings Canyon section on the website, but I do answer that there. I HATE campgrounds with floodlights. Sections of the Kings Canyon Resort campground are lit up like a day/night cricket match, which is why I won’t camp there unless I have no choice. Having said that, if you camp right at the far end, near the sunset viewing platform, you can get into the mulga and away from the MCG-strength lights and 24/7 noise from the amenity blocks.

  • J says:

    Hi, we will be visiting Alice Springs and Uluru beginning January and I am a little concerned that we are going at the wrong time due to extreme heat. Do people still travel there at this time of year and still have an enjoyable time? Is the weather hot and dry or hot and humid at this time.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Judi,

      I can’t lie to you. It will be HOT. As we say all over our website MAY is the very best month to come to the Red Centre.

      You can expect average temperatures of 36C (sorry, I don’t do old measurements!), up to 43C during January. Whilst Central Australia is rarely humid -ours is a dry, bearable heat where you WILL feel instant relief the moment you step into the shade- there are times when it does become humid… especially when it rains. Most of our rainfall occurs between November and March, but in saying that, when you consider that our average rainfall in Alice Springs is 280mm per year, this translates into a just a few humid days when the rain is actually falling. We DO NOT get a massive wet/humid season like Darwin & Broome do because we are far too south for the monsoon troughs to reach regularly. We just get the end bits, so to speak.

      However a heads up. THIS YEAR (2016) has been extraordinarily wet across the entire outback as Australia is experiencing a La Nina weather cycle. I would expect there to be a bit more rain than average. This also means FLIES! They are bad already… ugh! Buy a fly veil and when you get here, get some NATURE’S BOTANICALS fly cream – it’s a must have.

      People DO still travel in January, especially people from Europe and the UK. Germans seem to love our summers. Australians tend not to travel to the outback during summer – they do the beach or coastal camping thing.

      As to whether you will be comfortable, that’s an entirely individual question… will it be enjoyable? Every adventure is what you make it. I’ve had amazing fun during summer in Central Australia… you just can’t do long walks, and your outdoor daytime activities will be best scheduled in the morning cool or the evenings.

      Hopefully, this helps!

      Cheers and thanks for your comment,

      Amanda

      • Judi says:

        Thanks Amanda, this has been very helpful. Interesting that the Europeans visit in our Summer, you would think that would be quite extreme considering temperature difference. I guess there will be a lot of lazing by the pool at the resort in the middle of the day 🙂

  • Jesper says:

    Awesome site! Exactly the kind of detailed, on-point, no-nonsense info you’re looking for when you are ignorant Europeans like us :-). We’re planning to go in January (yes, it will be hot, but it was the only time we could go. And it will be a delightful break from the Scandinavian winter). Thanks so much for putting this together, it is really helpful.
    Cheers,
    Jesper & Kathrine, Copenhagen

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks Jesper. I’m glad you’ve found our information useful. Keep an eye out for our upcoming guide on this trip that will be available as an ebook and downloadable PDF.

      Cheers,

      Amanda

  • Lorraine Cross says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Can you help me please. I am trying to plan a trip from Alice Springs to Ayres Rock. We are going to hire a off road 4 wheel drive if possible. So far the plans are arrive Alice Springs 23rd Oct Stay 23rd and 24th- see some attractions and then head out to Ayres Rock on the 25th but we want to visit as many attractions as possible on the way. What would you suggest we see.
    I have planned to stay 25th and 26th at the Outback pioneer Hotel & Lodge ( accommodation very scarce) do the Sounds of silence dinner and lights, see the rock and the Olgas and then head to Kings Canyon and possibly stay at either Kings Canyon Station or Glen Helen Homestead 27th- what would you recommend. Then do the Mereenie loop back to Alice stoping at all the lovely spots and arriving back at Alice the night of the 28th and leave for Cairns 29th late afternoon. What changes should I make. have I allowed enough time in Ayres Rock.
    Thank you and looking forward to your reply,
    Lorraine

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Lorraine,

      Your plan sounds fine. Here’s a few tips:

      1. Make the VERY FIRST thing you see or do in Alice Springs the Alice Springs Desert Park. I really cannot urge you enough to do this. It will make your experience of Central Australia -every place, animal, bird and landscape- so much richer and deeper, as well as teaching you about the Aboriginal culture that is so diverse here.

      2. Outback Pioneer is where I always stay when I’m working at Uluru. It’s expensive, but you haven’t got much choice. One company owns all the accommodation at Yulara (the little resort town near Uluru). Save money by eating at their grill/bar. Skip the breakfast at the restaurant there ($28 AUD for a buffet is a RIP OFF), and head back over to the Yulara town square cafe instead.

      3.You’ve got Glen Helen a bit mixed up in location. It comes AFTER Kings Canyon. A long way after. Glen Helen is in the West MacDonnell Ranges and only 130km from Alice Springs. To get there, you must drive on the Red Centre Way (the old Mereenie Loop). Staying one night at Kings Canyon and then the next at Glen Helen is what I’d recommend.

      4. Get out RED CENTRE WAY Guide and print it out. It’s available here: and has the reverse trip for the Mereenie Loop on it that’s NOT AVAILABLE on our webpage, plus a beginner’s vehicle preparation and packing guide.

      Hope this helps,

      Amanda

  • Louise Orr says:

    Amazing and informative blog; thank you! I am planning a mid-November 2017 (Yes, I tend to plan far in advance!). Second trip to Australia (way back in 1994 visiting friends in Sydney and Queensland). This month long trip will be a week in Melbourne, with some side trips; a week or more visiting friends in South Gippsland; then either the Ghan or a flight from Adelaide to Alice where I will definitely spend time at the Desert Park, and see other nearby recommendations. I’ll rent a small car and take my time on tarred roads to visit Uluru (at least 2 nights), Kings Canyon (a night there), and back to Alice. Time is on my side; no rush. I am a mature, solo female American (although I live in Panama), and hope not to make a “nuisance” of myself driving on the left side of the road!

    So glad I stumbled on your site (I simply googled Driving from Alice to Uluru); have spent hours reading all the reports, and have “starred” it as a “favorite” on my computer. Would love to meet you!

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