There’s nothing more appealing than an open road trip, especially one that stretches almost 1500 km from Australia’s spiritual and physical heart, Alice Springs, to Darwin’s Mindil Beach.
The NT is not like your typical road trip. With vast red landscapes, brilliant blue skies, sparkling star-filled nights, wonderous wildlife, character-packed towns, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and eye-opening natural wonders.
There’s never been a better time than right now to tick off these natural Australian icons — the MacDonnell Ranges, Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, Nitmiluk National Park and Litchfield National Park. These bucket-list destinations suit all ages. And the best thing is that the road is bitumen all the way.
Nestled at the foothills of the craggy red-rocked MacDonnell Ranges on the banks of the mostly dry Todd River, Alice Springs is no sleepy hollow. It’s worth spending a few days discovering its café culture and culinary delights, wildlife experiences, adventure activities and waterholes (there are no wild crocodiles in the Red Centre) amongst the surrounding gorges.
Add on the Red Centre Way to take a dip in the outback waterholes of the West MacDonnell Ranges and Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Watarrka National Parks.
Alice Springs to Tennant Creek (508 km)
Leaving the city lights behind, follow the easy, straight drive ahead and break up the trip at the wonderful and wacky outback towns along the way. Straddle the Tropic of Capricorn just 30 km north of Alice Springs. The marker, installed for Australia’s Bicentenary, is locally designed. Marvel at the sculptures of ‘Anmatjere Man’ and ‘Anmatjere Woman and Child’ at Aileron. Fossick for garnets at Gemtree and check out the pressed tin ceiling, patterned cement blocks and cellar at the earliest hotel built on this north-south road at Barrow Creek.
Make sure to stop for lunch at Wycliffe Well — Australia’s UFO capital. It’s a quirky mirage complete with a holiday park, restaurant, lake and animal sanctuary.
Stop at Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles. These six-metre-high balancing rocks are fossilised Rainbow Serpent eggs according to the Warumungu Aboriginal people.