Adelaide to Darwin
Road Trip Adelaide to Darwin – 3,032 k
Mindle Beach, Darwin NT
Start Point: Adelaide CBD (could be GC motel / Adelaide Airport)
Finish Point: Darwin CBD (Alatai Holiday Apartments)
Duration: 6 Days – 6 Nights
Road Trip Adelaide to Darwin – 3,032 k
6 Nights – 6 Days
Overview of Trip Experience:
Have you the great explorer, John McDouall Stuart’s genes in your DNA? Ready to make a
transcontinental crossing of Australia from south to north? Here’s the challenge – just 3,023 or so
Pedal to the metal on the Explorers Highway should take around 1 day, 3 hours and 40 something
minutes if you’re a member of the Fast and Furious. Problem is, you’d miss the incredible landmarks,
characters and experiences along the way. Much better to slow the pace, indulge convenient and
affordable Golden Chain hospitality, as your adventure unfolds daily.
Start with a toast inside the first hour. Over 60 cellar doors await in the Barossa Valley. The rugged
Flinders Ranges give way to the outback and Wilpena Pound. The opal capital of Cooper Pedy and
red centre town of Alice Springs will keep you busy discovering.
Try and make time for Ayres Rock, better known as Uluru. Kings Canyon is another must see if you
can. Add the insight of an Aboriginal guide. See for yourself the ancient Aboriginal rock art in World
Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Swim in the crystal-clear mineral springs of Litchfield National
Before you know it you’re back in today’s world. Tropical Darwin is a vibrant blend of Aussie
multiculturalism – cuisines, peoples and entertainments.
Breakout Box #1
Adelaidean Things you “must do”
Take your chances at the Adelaide Casino
Ride the historic tram to Glenelg Beach
Drink a toast to some of Australia’s best wineries in the Barossa
Go underground in Coober Pedy
Hop over to Kangaroo Island for fantastic fishing
Solve the Mt Gambier mystery of the Blue Lake
Enjoy renowned seafood on the Fleurieu Peninsula
Go cage diving with the Great White Sharks at Port Lincoln
Breakout Box #2
Major events across SA.
Sounds by the River – January
Cape Jaffa Seafood and Wine Festival – January
Schutzenfest – January
Harvest Festival – January
Coober Pedy Opal Festival – March/April
Santos Tour Down Under – January
Port Lincoln Tunarama – January
Adelaide Fringe – February/March
Clipsal 500 – March
Day One – Adelaide to Port Augusta – 310 km, 3h 21 mins
Night One – Augusta Courtyard Motel – Port Augusta
Your epic drive gets off to a gentle start. An easy hour from Adelaide, the premium red wines and fine local cuisine of the Barossa Valley are a great place to take a break. Go shopping for local art and mementos. Taste a crisp Eden Valley Riesling before heading on to Port Augusta, gateway to the rugged Flinders Ranges and South Australian outback. Catch the setting sun behind the hills, then relax overnight with friends at the Courtyard Motel.
Day Two – Port Augusta to Coober Pedy – 542 km, 5 h 21 mins
Night Two – Desert View Apartments – Coober Pedy
Discovery awaits in the quirky opal mining town of Coober Pedy. A good day’s easy driving. Meet locals from across the world who live and play underground to escape the scorching heat of summer. Visit homes, churches, shops and pubs. Drop into an opal mine, watch an opal being cut. Don’t miss the Breakaways where Mad Max III was filmed.
Side trip #1 – Flinders Ranges 161 km, 1 h 53 mins one way
Enjoy a detour via Flinders Ranges National Park – ancient gorges, gum-lined creeks, abundant
wildlife and spectacular Wilpena Pound. Walk to its ancient rim and marvel at nature’s way.
Recommendation is that you make a day of this, and return to the Courtyard Motel in the late
Day Three – Coober Pedy to Alice Springs – 688 km, 7 h 37 min
Night Three – Elkira Court Motel
A good drive to share. You are in the outback now. If time permits take a right off the A87 and venture along the painted Desert Road for say half an hour, before retracing your tracks. An area of spectacular colourful hills formed through 80 million years of erosion. Be spellbound by the colours – ochre yellow, oxide red, and deep, rich brown – especially in bright sunlight. Your journey continues north through grasslands, granite country and over the Finke River to the historic outback town of Alice Springs. You’ll be grateful for the comforts of the Elkira Court Motel
Consider making this your base for exploring Uluru and Kings Canyon if you can spare some extra days. Both attractions are long drives
Side trip #2 – Alice Springs to Uluru-Kata Tjura National Park – 50 minutes by air – one way The only way to go is via a short flight, especially if staying in Alice Springs. The road trip is almost 5 and a half hours and you’ll be retracing your earlier drive. If you go, do walk around Uluṟu with an Aboriginal guide and learn how Dreamtime ancestors forged this huge sandstone icon. Side trip #3 – Alice Springs to Kings Canyon – 475 kms, 6 h 8 mins
Side trip #3 – Alice Springs to Kings Canyon – 475 kms, 6 h 8 mins The road trip is in excess of 6 hours. The crowning feature of rugged Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon is a prehistoric wonderland. Sheer sandstone cliffs, palm-filled crevices, tropical pools in the desert. You could spend days in this amazing natural space. Go and Google it
Day Four – Alice Springs to Tennant Creek – 508 k, 5 h 37 mins
Night Four – Eldorado Motor Inn
Farewell to the Alice and back on the A87 pointing north. Is it a mirage or did you see a vineyard? At Ti Tree sample fine table grapes and sparkling mango wine from clever outback vintners. Stay alert entering Wycliffe, famous for its UFO sightings. Next, the Devils Marbles. According to Aboriginal legend, these huge, finely balanced boulders are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. Feeling lucky? Dig into the town’s gold rush history at signposted heritage sites – try fossicking and panning for gold yourself. Then sleep easy in the Eldorado with your gold dust under your pillow.
Day Five – Tennant Creek to Katherine – 675 k, 7 h 29 mins
Night Five – Katherine Motel
If you have opted out of any of the tempting side trips in these parts, this will be your longest day on the road. Many of the side roads are four-wheel-drive to vast cattle stations. Along the way you will pass through some tiny picture postcard outback towns. You’ll be needing a cold drink in Territory’s oldest pub in Daly Waters. Another stop is Bitter Springs and the famous Mataranka Thermal Springs. Although great for tired limbs be warned that a soak in a hot spring can make you a sleepy driver. Try and save your zzzz’s for the comfort of your room at the Katherine Motel.
Day Six – Katherine to Darwin – 317 k, 3 h 17 mins
Night Six – Alatai Holiday Apartments
You are now on National Highway 1 aka Stuart Highway. After six days of outback sand, dirt and dust your first glimpse of the Timor Sea will be a refreshing one. Finally you’re in the heart of Darwin. Soak up the balmy weather and melting pot of food and cultures via the city’s many outdoor festivals and markets. Then explore the region’s dramatic history – from World War II air raids to Cyclone Tracey – in the museums and galleries. You have well and truly reached your destination. Side trip #4 – Darwin to Kakadu – 151 k, 1 h 37 mins
A 4-wheel drive is recommended. The vast World Heritage-listed wilderness of Kakadu National Park, branches off the Stuart Highway at Pine Creek. Great bushwalking, barra fishing, saltwater crocodile spotting on guided cruises through the wetlands. Spectacular aboriginal art at Ubirr Rock in Kakadu’s north-east. Continue onto the World War II township of Adelaide River. The nearby war cemetery holds the graves of service people who died in the 1942 – 43 air raids.
Side trip #5 – Darwin to Litchfield National Park – 115 k, 1h 19 mins
Also close to your Darwin base at Akatai Holiday Apartments is Litchfield National Park. Explore a tarzan landscape where you can swim safely in crystal-clear swimming holes, wonder at stunning waterfalls and count thousands of termite mounds that all point to magnetic north. Walk through the monsoonal forest to the deep pool beneath Florence Falls, watch the fruit bats at Wangi Falls and the spectacular valley views at Tolmer Falls.
Breakout Box #3
Some Territorian Things you “must do”
Gaze upon Uluru at sunset
Walk through the magnificent Olgas
View Aboriginal rock and cave art
Spot crocodiles on a river cruisev
Be amazed at the Devils Marbles, Tennant Creek
Wonder at the waterfalls of Litchfield National Park
Be overwhelmed by Australia’s largest national park, Kakadu
See the monument and museum in Darwin where tropical cyclone Tracy struck in 1974
Breakout Box #4
Major events across the Northern Territory
Bass in the Grass – MayTerritory Day – July
Alice Desert Festival – August / September
Darwin Festival – August
Wordstorm Writers Festival – May
Todd Regatta – August
The Greek Glenti – June