Campervan Road Trip in Australia’s Red Centre

June 7, 2022

The Red Centre, located in Australia’s Northern Territory, offers road-trippers an adventure that incorporates desert landscapes, outback history, cultural enlightenment and natural wonders.

This journey from Alice Springs comprises of just over 1200kms, and showcases the best of the Central Desert region. There are some large distances between each of the destinations, and you may find extra places you want to explore on the way through, which is why many travellers consider the most comfortable way to explore the Northern Territory, is by Campervan.

You won’t need to worry about amending hotel reservations if you decide to stay longer in a favourite location, which alleviates stress that can otherwise arise by last minute itinerary changes. Accommodation, amenities and transport…  are all conveniently taken care of with a camper van hire.

Your epic journey begins and concludes in Alice Springs, which has many domestic flight options available from major Australian airports.

Buckle up and Bon Voyage!

Alice Springs

Welcome to the Australian outback! “Alice” is renowned for being the gateway to The Red Centre, and is famous for its stunning desert scenery and rich Indigenous culture.

There are a number of places you can visit while you’re in town, either before you embark on your journey, or at the end of your trip when you circle back.

Some Suggested Things to Do in and around ALICE SPRINGS

Royal Flying Doctor Service

Experience the original RFDS base, which has been in operation since 1939. Learn about their heroic stories, interesting history and the crucial service that they provide to the outback regions of Australia.

Kangaroo Sanctuary

This sanctuary cares for orphaned joeys, at their kangaroo reserve that spans over 75 hectares. Guided sunset tours are available to visitors, allowing them to experience up close kangaroo encounters in a natural bushland setting.

Alice Springs Desert Park

Engross yourself in the splendour of desert Australia, as you explore captivating landscapes. Visit Nocturnal House and wonder at the fascinating native animals. Find inspiration in the rich ancient Aboriginal culture, as shared by local guides. In the evenings, spotlighting Nocturnal Tours are available to encounter endangered desert wildlife.

Araluen Arts Centre

A visual arts and performance centre, which provides exhibitions, presentations, and film. Recognised for being a keeper of stories, Araluen features a number of culturally significant art works and showcases world-class performances.

 

Henbury

Alice Springs to Henbury 145km (approximately 1h 32m)

Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve is a short detour off the route to Kings Canyon, and the site of 12 craters; remnants of a historic meteorite collision with the earth. Due to the meteorite’s disintegration before crashing, its fragmented pieces caused the many craters. The Conservation Reserve is open throughout the year and also provides a basic campground, without any amenities.

 

Kings Canyon

Henbury to Kings Canyon 190km (approximately 2h 13m)

Kings Canyon is a visually spectacular place to visit in Central Australia. The Canyon was shaped layer upon layer through shale and sandstone, to create towering domes which plunge into a haven of pristine rock pools. The abundant Kings Canyon ecosystem provides sanctuary to more than 600 varieties of native flora and fauna species.

This magnificent canyon is best experienced via the many walking trails, especially the iconic rim walk, a must-do 6km hike (3-4 hours), which rewards you with spellbinding views of the region. 

Uluru

Kings Canyon to Uluru 324km (approximately 3h 30m)

The highlight of any Red Centre road trip, Uluru is the iconic desert attraction in Central Australia.

A Parks Pass is required for entry into Uluru-Kata Tjuta park, which can be purchased upon entry or organised online prior to arriving.

Some Suggested Things to Do in and around ULURU

Uluru

Explore the red sandstone monolith via a walking trail, guided cultural tour, at sunrise or sunset. There are a multitude of options when it comes to Uluru experiences.

Ranger Guided Mala Walk

The Mala Walk trails through Uluru’s north-west side. You will be guided to ancient campsites, gain insight into Indigenous ceremonies and the daily life of their ancestors.

Explore caves where Mala people camped as they arrived at Uluru, and witness ancient rock art before experiencing the serenity of Kantju Gorge.

Field of Light

This massive Light art installation features over 50,000 blooming spheres of frosted-glass. There are many experiences available to enjoy the Field of Light, including a “Sounds of Silence” dinner or Light by Heli tour.

Maruku Arts Gallery

A collection of art that is contributed to by approximately 900 Indigenous Australian artists, who belong to more than 20 remote regions throughout the Deserts in the West and Red Centre. The Maruku Arts objective is to sustain and support Aboriginal culture through the use of art.

Erldunda

Uluru to Erldunda 272km (approximately 2h 52m)

Erldunda is a very small town between Uluru and Alice Springs. The Erldunda Roadhouse is located on the crossroads of Stuart and Lasseter Highways. Known as the “centre of the centre” for its outback location, it is a popular stop-over to break up what is a long, and sometimes monotonous, journey.

The roadhouse offers a place to refuel, a simple shop, food eatery, bar and camping sites. Sites are available either with or without power, and the available camping facilities include swimming pool, showers, toilets and laundry.

 

West MacDonnell Ranges

Erldunda to West MacDonnell Ranges 262km (approximately 3h 05m)

West MacDonnell National Park (Tjoritja) spans 161 kilometres of mountainous landscape, located to the west of Alice Springs. There are several campground options throughout the park, allowing you to spend a few days to explore the splendid beauty of the region.

The park comprises of ancient landscapes which were formed over centuries, providing sanctuary to unique and endangered plants and native wildlife, such as the Peregrine Falcon or Black-Footed Rock-Wallaby. There are numerous gorges and waterholes to explore and over 20 walking trails to choose from.

Some Suggested Things to Do in and around WEST MACDONNELL RANGES

Ellery Creek Big Hole

Ellery Creek Big Hole is a stunning waterhole in the great Ellery Creek, that carved itself into this West MacDonnell gorge, through millennia of immense flooding.

Glen Helen Gorge

Surrounded by unique colourful landscape, the setting of Glen Helen Gorge is a panorama of splendour. A soaring wall of sandstone greets you on arrival, and the gorge’s permanent waterhole provides a refuge to aquatic wildlife and land animals alike.

Ochre Pits

These colourful outcrops are culturally significant to local Aboriginal communities, the Ochre Pits here have been mined for hundreds of years, to be used in decorations, ceremonies and medicinal applications.

Ikuntji Artists

Authentic Aboriginal art studio and gallery, which is open to visitors, allowing them to view the unique paintings, jewellery, art prints, textiles and clothing available for purchase.

 

Alice Springs

MacDonnell Ranges to Alice Springs 65km (approximately 1h 03m)

Your journey back to Alice Springs concludes your Top End road-trip, no doubt with many life-long memories and loads of panoramic photographs!

 

Other Tips

Once you have organised your Campervan Hire, the most convenient way to search for campgrounds during your Top End Road Trip, is by downloading the free smartphone app “Discovery Roadtrip”.  A useful tool to support your search for paid or free camp sites, as well as pinpointing nearby attractions, fuel stops and restaurants throughout your Australian self-drive journey.

 

Author: Leila Gear on behalf of Discovery Campervans

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