A Red Centre road trip is a rite of passage for every Australian, and for most young people the adventure hovers in the lower sections of buckets lists with a note ‘I’ll do it one day’ pencilled next to it.
We believe it’s a helluva experience to do NOW; to not wait until the grey hairs take over and you’ve got a caravan in your shed. Grab your friends and go now - from exploring swimming holes you’ve only seen in your wildest dreams to uncovering the very fabric that defines Australia, you’ll be gobsmacked and deeply inspired by what you find there.
Here we’ve outlined an itinerary for a 9 day trip (i.e. maximising 1 week off work). This serves as a rough guide only - there are many ways to skin a cat so of course so play around with this itinerary to suit your fancy.
Our hot tips:
- Start and finish in Alice Springs. Best place to hire a car, provision (and party).
- Camp. To truly connect to the land, you’ll need to sleep on the earth. Plan accordingly.
- Be safe. Plan your trip, don’t drive at night (animals are rife) and pack provisions
- Hire a 4WD. Ideal for convenience and comfort.
- Tunes. Don’t you dare set forth without a humdinger of a playlist locked and loaded.
Day 1 - Arrive Alice Springs // Chill
Distance - 15 km airport to Alice
If you dropped a pin into the middle of Australia, odds are you’d be somewhere near Alice Springs. It’s an oasis set beneath the stunning MacDonnell Ranges, proudly one of the most remote settlements on earth. Far from being a place for travellers to just fuel up, the city in fact has a lot more to it than many would think (more to be explained on this later).
We recommend picking up your rental vehicle from the airport and driving the 15 mins into town to chill before d-day. Grab some dinner in the courtyard at Monte’s Lounge and get a good night’s kip in before tomorrow’s big drive.
Day 2 - Alice Springs to Uluru
Distance - 500 km (including detour to Rainbow Valley)
This is the biggest day of driving on the whole trip so it’s recommended to start early and make the most of it! About 75km south of Alice along the Stuart Highway is a turnoff to the Rainbow Valley, a cheeky 40km detour along an unsealed road that leads to the first of many spectacular rock formations.
Back on the highway you’ll stumble across the Stuarts Well Roadhouse. Up until recently you may have heard the sweet dulcet tones of a singing dingo on approach to this re-fuelling stop, but sadly ‘Dinky’ drifted to dingo heaven in 2014 alongside his repertoire of 80’s classics.
Roadhouses have outback culture dripping form the ceiling; they’re exciting and essential pit stops for any passing traveller, with or without the lure of musically gifted quadrupeds. Erldunda Roadhouse is 200km from Alice Springs at the crucial intersection with the Lasseter Highway, presenting the last opportunity for mobile reception before reaching Uluru.
As you continue venturing West, you won’t be the first person to prematurely shoot for the Uluru-money-shot when you see Mt Conner. Also known as Fool-uru, it’s a sneaky little teaser of what’s to come.
There is a variety of accommodation options available through Ayers Rock Resort, to suit every budget including a great campground for the travellers on a budget.