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Explorer's Way - Adelaide to Darwin

One of the great Australian road trips!

World Heritage National Parks

Follow the trail blazed in the 1860s for the Overland Telegraph and drive past striking natural attractions, historic outback pubs and towns brimming with culture and activity. Named after John McDouall Stuart, the first explorer to successfully cross Australia from south to north and return, the Explorers Way extends from Adelaide to Darwin. On your travels, you’ll hit the Territory’s star attractions, including World Heritage-listed Uluru and Kata Tjuta, spectacular Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park), and the waterfalls and waterholes of Litchfield National Park.

Itinerary thanks to northernterritory.com

Please note: This route is recommended for 4WD vehicles as some roads are restricted to 4WD campers only.

Day 1-4: Adelaide to Coober Pedy

Travel time: 8 hours 35 minutes

Distance: 841kms

Start your driving adventure at Adelaide and make your way to Coober Pedy where along the way you can stop off at Port Augusta and check out the Southern and Central Flinders Ranges.

Where to stay: BIG4 Stuart Range Outback Resort


Day 5: Coober Pedy to Uluru

Travel time: 7 hours 45 minutes

Distance: 755kms

Make your way to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and drop in to the spiritual heart of Australia where you can hop on a camel, take part in Indigenous dancing and cultural shows as well as go on one of many guided and self-guided walking tours that take you up close and personal with both Uluru and the stunning surrounds.


Uluru at sunrise Image Credit: Tourism NT /Paddy Pallin


Day 6: Uluru to Kings Canyon

Travel time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Distance: 322kms

Once you’ve had your fill of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park make the 300km drive to Kings Canyon and explore the 100m sandstone walls that make up Kings Canyon. Take a short hike to the top and take in amazing desert views.


King Canyon, NT Image Credit: Mitchell Cox


Day 7: Kings Canyon to Alice Springs

Travel time: 3 hours 35 minutes

Distance: 326kms

Hit the road to Alice Springs, the spiritual heart of Australia. You’ll discover stunning landscapes and a fascinating pioneering history. Take time to learn about the ancient Aboriginal culture through its art and stories in galleries in the town and nearby communities.


Day 8: Alice Springs, West Macs, and Glen Helen

Travel time: 2 hours 10 minutes roundtrip

Distance: 130kms

During your stay in Alice Springs take a drive to the West MacDonnell Ranges where you can explore the many spectacular chasms and gorges. Visit the beautiful waterholes too such as Ellery Creek Big Hole and Glen Helen Gorge that are a perfect treat after a long day’s drive.


Woman relaxing at Ellery Creek Mandatory credit Tourism NT slash Backyard Bandits


Day 9: Alice Springs to Tennant Creek

Travel time: 5 hours

Distance: 508kms

While making your way to Tennant Creek stop by the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles and get up close to these ancient granite boulders. Make sure you stop over in Tennant Creek to meet the outback characters, and learn about life during the gold rush.


Day 10: Tennant Creek to Daly Waters

Travel time: 4 hours 5 minutes

Distance: 407kms

For those wanting to experience real outback hospitality stop over at The Daly Waters Historic Pub where you can get lost in the massive collection of memorabilia that reflects the pub’s colourful history. Stay a night at the pub and mingle with the locals or set up camp for the night at the nearby camping grounds.


Daly Waters Pub Mandatory credit Tourism NT slash Kate Flowers


Day 11: Daly Waters to Mataranka

Travel time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Distance: 168kms

Take part in nature’s day spa at the Mataranka Thermal Pools where fresh constant 34 degrees water and soft sand will soothe even the sorest of muscles. Enjoy the surrounding palm forest too and keep an eye out for native birds.


Day 12: Mataranka to Katherine

Travel time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Distance: 108kms

Katherine has a huge range of activities to keep you busy. Make your way to Nitmiluk National Park and take a canoe down the Katherine Gorge or take a break from driving and hop on one of the many relaxing guided cruises and more!


Day 13: Katherine to Litchfield

Travel time: 2 hours

Distance: 143kms

Only a short distance from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is a must-see stopover on your journey through the Top End. Take on a range of walking tracks as well as fantastic waterholes and camping facilities. For the more adventurous take on the four-wheel-drive tracks and create unforgettable memories.

Where to stay: Batchelor Holiday Park


Litchfield National ParkMandatory credit Tourism NT /Shaana McNaught


Day 14: Litchfield to Darwin

Travel time: 5 hours 45 minutes

Distance: 507kms

Darwin offers a range of memorable activities in a stunning tropical and urban setting. Drop by the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets for an array of Asian-inspired food or cool off in luxury at the Darwin Wave Pool. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, jump into the cage of death at Crocosaurus Cove. Take in the night air at the Deckchair Cinemas, visit the Darwin War Museum or just stroll through its many bustling streets and restaurant precincts.

Where to stay: Hidden Valley Holiday Park


Mindil Markets, Darwin


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