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Ultimate Adelaide to Darwin Road Trip

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One of the ultimate Australian road trips is the inland route from Adelaide to Darwin. Capturing the huge diversity of the Australian landscape from beautiful white sandy beaches, ochre red deserts, and wild tropical rainforests, this route has it all.

Beginning in South Australia, this itinerary kicks off in the heart of Adelaide and winds north past historic Port Augusta, up through the opal town of Coober Pedy, and up into the wild beauty of the Northern Territory. This itinerary also delivers a host of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. During these ten days, you will have the chance to experience the southern hemisphere’s largest markets, the world’s largest monolith Uluru, and the unique thermal pools in Katherine. Ready to see what adventures await when you rent a van to travel this classic Australian outback route? Let’s dive in.

Travel

10 days


Route

Adelaide to Darwin

3538km


Best Time of the Year

All year round

Highlights

  • Adelaide Central Market
  • Uluru
  • Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles
  • Katherine Hot Springs

The Journey

Days

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

SATC Media Gallery

Day 1

After you pick up your camper at the maui Adelaide branch, it’s time to explore this vibrant South Australian city. The first stop is to stock up for your upcoming road trip at Adelaide Central Market. As the largest undercover markets in the Southern Hemisphere, there is plenty on offer. Whether you want a quick bite to eat, seasonal produce or artesian goodies to stock up your campervan - these markets are the perfect place to do so.

Once your pantry is full, it’s time to explore what else this city has in store. Some of the top things to do in Adelaide include a stop by the Art Gallery of South Australia, wandering through the scenic parklands of Adelaide Himeji Garden, and going for a swim at Glenelg Beach.

Where to stay: Adelaide Beachfront Discovery Parks.

SATC Media Gallery

Day 2
Adelaide to Port Augusta

Distance 308km - Driving Time 3 hours 30 minutes

Take advantage of your prime location and enjoy a morning stroll along the beach. Once you have had your morning coffee and a bite to eat, it's time to hit the road. Driving north, you can choose to take a detour to a winery in the Barossa Valley or simply drive on through to Port Augusta.

When in Port Augusta, the Wadlata Outback Centre is an essential stop. This award-winning attraction is a perfect addition to any outback adventure. Be sure to join the Tunnel of Time tour for a greater understanding of the history and culture of the outback you will soon be exploring.

A few other great stops in town include driving to the Matthew Flinders Red Cliff Lookout and heading to Gladstone Square for an afternoon picnic. Complete with two gazebos, a barbecue area, and a sea of historical monuments, this is the perfect backdrop to an afternoon grazing platter.

Where to stay: Port Augusta Discovery Parks.

Day 3
Port Augusta to Coober Pedy

Distance 540km - Driving Time 5 hours 38 minutes

It’s time to jump on the Stuart Highway and begin the drive north toward Coober Pedy. On the way, enjoy a break at the Lake Hart rest area. This is the perfect spot to whip up a bite to eat in your campervan and then head down to marvel at the salt flats of the waning lake.

After a few hours on the road, you are well and truly in the desert now. Surrounded by flat landscapes as far as the eye can see. Pulling into Coober Pedy, you may notice several ‘hills’ that are, in fact, piles of dirt from opal mines. When you roll into town, be sure to check out the Umoona Opal Mine & Museum and Big Winch 360 for more information on the local opal mining. You can even go noodling (fossicking) for opals in the public noodling area!

Where to stay: Oasis Tourist Park.

Day 4
Coober Pedy to Uluru

Distance 735km - Driving Time 7 hours 26 minutes

Get an early start to the day and begin the drive to cross the border over to the Northern Territory towards the spiritual heart of Australia: Uluru. When you arrive, you can opt for a guided tour of Uluru or enjoy a self-paced exploration of this stunning national park. After a full afternoon of exploring, go to the sunset car park to get a front-row seat to watch this monstrous rock transform from a dull brown to a magnificent glowing red in the fading light - a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Where to stay: Ayers Rock Campground.

Tourism NT Image Gallery

Day 5
Uluru to Alice Springs

Distance 447km - Driving Time 4 hours 35 minutes

Today marks day five of this itinerary, and it’s time to make your way back towards the highway to continue the drive north to Alice Springs. This hub of the outback has an eclectic mix of dining, experiences and Australian desert wildlife. While in town, be sure to stop by ANZAC Hill, Olive Pink Botanic Garden, and meet the local wildlife at the Desert Springs National Park.

Where to stay: Alice Springs Tourist Park.

Day 6
Alice Springs to Tennant Creek

Distance 508km - Driving Time 5 hours 9 minutes

Start the morning with a hearty campervan meal at your campsite to prepare for another big day of driving. Heading towards Tennant Creek, stop off at Karlu Karlu/ Devils Marbles. These unique rock formations are a stunning contrast to the near-empty surroundings and will leave you contemplating how they arrived there.

Once you have arrived in Tennant Creek, it’s time to explore. First up is the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Cultural Centre. This art centre is the perfect way to learn about Aboriginal dreaming, language, history and art. Once you’re done, head to the Battery Hill Gold Mining & Heritage Centre for an up-close and personal look into the history of mining. Here you will have the chance to descend below the surface to explore the inner workings of a mine as well as exhibits scattered throughout the complex.

Where to stay: Outback Caravan Park Tennant Creek.

Tourism NT Image Gallery

Day 7
Tennant Creek to Daly Waters

Distance 407km - Driving Time 4 hours 20 minutes

After six big days, take advantage of a more relaxed day with an outback drive to the Daly Waters Pub. This iconic red centre road stop is evident from its colourful display of pink flowers decorating the entrance. While here, pay a visit to the Daly Waters Aerodrome Aviation complex - the home of Australia’s first international airfield. Then treat yourself to a classic Australian roast dinner at the pub.

Where to stay: Daly Waters Hi-Way Inn.

Tourism NT Image Gallery

Day 8
Daly Waters to Katherine

Distance 276km - Driving Time 2 hours 53 minutes

After a well-earned rest, get an early start to the day with a drive towards Katherine. This outback town is best known for its small-town charm and the Katherine Hot Springs. Boasting an array of natural thermal pools that hold a balmy 34°C temperature year-round, these are in high demand. If you can, get there early to avoid too many crowds and soak in the mineral goodness of this natural spring water. Spend the day relaxing, jumping from spring to spring in Elsey National Park, including the rocky reprieve of Bitter Springs and palm-fringed edges of Mataranka Thermal Pools.

Where to stay: Big4 Breeze Holiday Parks

Tourism NT Image Gallery

Day 9
Katherine to Darwin

Distance 317km - Driving Time 3 hours 17 minutes

Leaving the warm waters of Katherine, it's time to venture north. The first stop on the drive to Darwin is Edith Falls. Located just 60 km from Katherine, this is a great spot to enjoy a swim and a walk around the stunning Nitmiluk National Park. Then venture a little further north into Litchfield National Park. Litchfield is best known for its scenic walks, waterfalls and croc-free swimming holes (an important factor this far north!). Spend the rest of the day exploring before driving the remaining distance to Darwin.

Where to stay: Darwin Discovery Parks

Tourism NT Image Gallery

Day 10
Darwin

Today marks the last day of this epic Australia road trip. And what better way to spend it than exploring the tropical city of Darwin? The first stop is the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. This waterfront hub is home to over 20 eateries surrounding two large enclosed swimming areas and a host of lounging chairs and grass to relax on. Once you have spent a little time exploring the waterfront, next up, it’s time to head to explore George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. This botanic garden boasts over 42 hectares of tropical species to explore.

If you find yourself in Darwin on a Thursday or a Sunday, do not miss the chance to drop by Mindil Beach sunset markets. These markets are the perfect place to grab some dinner and enjoy the ambience of this tropical north city. After exploring for the day, drop your maui camper off at the Darwin Branch and begin the journey home.

Ready to book a trip of a lifetime?

The trip from Adelaide to Darwin is filled with some of the most iconic landscapes and attractions that Australia has to offer. Renting a van to travel this inland route is hands down one of the best ways to partake in some of the most coveted quintessential Australian experiences of visiting Uluru, swimming in thermal hot springs, descending into a mine and much more.

Ready to book a trip of a lifetime? Book your maui motorhome today online or at your local maui branch. For more travel tips on what to pack for your campervan trip and for help choosing the right motorhome, check out the maui blog.