Best road trips in Australia


Road trips in Australia


The cosmopolitan capital of Darwin is Australia’s doorway to Asia and celebrates its multicultural mix with delicious fusion cuisine and a relaxed tropical vibe. Darwin feels more like a big town than a city, and the dreamy coastline around its outer reaches rakes at the heart when a blood red sun is dipping over the horizon.

Getting Around

Darwin is relatively compact, but having your own car is particularly useful for visiting the markets in the northern suburbs and the parks on the city’s fringe. Central Darwin and the Waterfront Precinct are easily walkable.


Darwin’s CBD has paid parking meters; the cost ranges between $1.20 and $2.40 per hour, depending on location. There is free overnight parking in the majority of off-street car parks. See the Darwin City website ( for specifics.

Where to Eat

The Darwin Waterfront Precinct is a great spot for a lovely dinner of fresh seafood with a variety of options to suit all budgets. Food at Parap Village Market is also a highlight – arrive hungry!

Where to Stay

Darwin has a good range of sleeping options, mostly clustered near the CBD. Hostels are generally concentrated in a bar-heavy stretch of Mitchell St. There are a few decent camping/caravan options within 10km of the city. Darwin’s larger hotels quote inflated rack rates but there are good specials to be found online.


Relax after your epic drive with a few days in gracious, relaxed Adelaide. Capital of the driest state on the driest inhabited continent, Adelaide beats the heat by celebrating life’s finer things: fine landscapes, fine festivals, fine food and (…OK, forget the other three) fine wine.

Getting Around

Adelaide is pancake flat – perfect for walking or cycling (if it’s not too hot!). Buses, trains and trams also service the city; Adelaide Metro ( has information and sells tickets.


Parking is cheap and plentiful throughout the city. Hotel parking sometimes incurs an additional fee.

Where to Eat

Those in the know head to West End hotspots such as Gouger St, Chinatown and food-filled Central Market.

Where to Stay

Most of Adelaide’s budget accommodation is in the city centre but in a city this easy to get around, staying outside the CBD is viable. For beachside accommodation, try Glenelg.

Useful Websites

South Australian Visitor Information Centre ( Info on Adelaide and South Australia.

Road Trip Through Adelaide: 

Uluru, Alice & the Red Centre

The Red Centre is Australia’s heartland, boasting the iconic attractions of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, plus an enigmatic central desert culture that continues to produce extraordinary abstract art.


The first sight of Uluru on the horizon will astound even the most jaded traveller. Uluru is 3.6km long and rises a towering 348m from the surrounding sandy scrubland (867m above sea level). If that’s not impressive enough, it’s believed that two-thirds of the rock lies beneath the sand. Closer inspection reveals a wondrous contoured surface concealing numerous sacred sites of particular significance to the Anangu. If your first sight of Uluru is during the afternoon, it appears as an ochre-brown colour, scored and pitted by dark shadows. As the sun sets, it illuminates the rock in burnished orange, then a series of deeper reds before it fades into charcoal. A performance in reverse, with marginally fewer spectators, is given at dawn.

Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort)

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Yulara is the service village for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and has effectively turned one of the world’s least hospitable regions into a comfortable place to stay. Lying just outside the national park, 20km from Uluru and 53km from Kata Tjuta, the complex is the closest base for exploring the park.


No journey to Uluru is complete without a visit to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), a striking group of domed rocks huddled together about 35km west of the Rock. There are 36 boulders shoulder to shoulder forming deep valleys and steep-sided gorges. Many visitors find them even more captivating than their prominent neighbour. The tallest rock, Mt Olga (546m; 1066m above sea level) is approximately 200m higher than Uluru. Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ and is of great tjukurpa significance, particularly for men, so stick to the tracks.

The 7.4km Valley of the Winds loop (two to four hours) is one of the most challenging and rewarding bushwalks in the park. It winds through the gorges, giving excellent views of the surreal domes and traversing varied terrain. It’s not particularly arduous, but wear sturdy shoes, and take plenty of water. Starting this walk at first light often rewards you with solitude, enabling you to appreciate the sounds of the wind and bird calls carried up the valley.

The short signposted track beneath towering rock walls into pretty Walpa Gorge (2.6km return, 45 minutes) is especially beautiful in the afternoon, when sunlight floods the gorge.

There’s a picnic and sunset-viewing area with toilet facilities just off the access road a few kilometres west of the base of Kata Tjuta. Like Uluru, Kata Tjuta is at its glorious, blood-red best at sunset.

Kings Canyon & Watarrka National Park

The yawning chasm of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park is one of the most spectacular sights in central Australia, and one of the main attractions of the Mereenie Loop. The other ways to get here include the unsealed Ernest Giles Rd, which heads west off the Stuart Hwy 140km south of Alice Springs, and the sealed Luritja Rd which detours off the Lasseter Hwy on the way to Uluru. The latter is the longest route but easily the most popular and comfortable.

Whichever way you get here you will want to spend some time shaking off the road miles and taking in the scenery. Walkers are rewarded with awesome views on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk.

The Kings Creek Walk (2km return) is a short stroll along the rocky creek bed to a raised platform with views of the towering canyon rim.

About 10km east of the car park, the Kathleen Springs Walk (one hour, 2.6km return) is a pleasant wheelchair-accessible track leading to a waterhole at the head of a gorge.

The Giles Track (22km one-way, overnight) is a marked track that meanders along the George Gill Range between Kathleen Springs and the canyon; fill out the logbook at Reedy Creek rangers office so that in the event of an emergency, rangers can more easily locate you.

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