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Imagine the excitement of setting off on an adventure road trip and embracing the sense of freedom that only comes from the open road. One such journey is the road trip from Adelaide to Darwin in Australia. This great Australian road trip slices through the centre of Australia from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north.
The Adelaide to Darwin road trip will have you sampling the delights of Adelaide, exploring stunning outback vistas, reliving the glory days of Woomera rocket range or noodling for opals at Coober Pedy in South Australia. Take a side trip to Uluru, explore the wonders of Alice Springs, cruise the waters of Katherine Gorge and relax in the multicultural oasis of Darwin in the Northern Territory.
So, come along with us as we show you what to see and do on a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin in Australia.
Adelaide to Darwin Drive Itinerary
If you were to drive straight through without stopping the Adelaide to Darwin distance is 3,030 km and would take around 30 hours to complete. For the best road trip, we have put together an itinerary for a journey from Adelaide to Darwin by car.
Along the way we will show you highlights of Adelaide, Port Augusta, Woomera and Coober Pedy in South Australia. We visit iconic Northern Territory attractions in Uluru, Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin. We will also show you some of the unique roadhouses between Woomera and Darwin.
Adelaide to Darwin road trip map
Things to see in Adelaide
We begin our journey in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. When planning an Adelaide trip, thoughts immediately turn to the wineries of the Barossa Valley and the food scene of historic Hahndorf which sit on Adelaide’s doorstep.
While these attractions are a must for anyone visiting the region, the city of Adelaide is also blessed with a stunning collection of Victorian architecture, a vibrant entertainment and food scene, museums and parks. Below you will find a range of Adelaide day trip ideas and tours.
Along North Terrace there are several interesting museums and art galleries to visit. The Museum of Classical Archaeology, Art Gallery of South Australia, South Australian Museum and the historical Ayers House Museum are within proximity to each other and a short walk from the University tram stop.
Adelaide Botanic Gardens
If you are looking for a peaceful oasis in Adelaide look no further than the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The gardens feature a variety of habitats including the International Rose Garden, Cactus and Succulent Garden and The Australian Native Garden. The Gardens are a short walk from the Botanic Gardens tram stop.
Adelaide for Foodies
Adelaide pays tribute to the bounty of the area. The fine wine, quality fresh produce and the artisan delicacies produced in this fertile region inspire creativity within the restaurants and cafes of Adelaide.
If you want to sample some of Adelaide’s best food venues head on over to East Terrace and Rundle Street. This charming food and bar precinct is home to an assortment of cuisines that will take you to destinations across the world. The area also has many restaurants that cater to vegetarians and vegans.
Africola was recommended to us by our children who raved about the quality of the food. We had so much fun at Africola, the restaurant had a great atmosphere, and we enjoyed the collection of dishes on offer.
The restaurant serves a unique set kitchen menu of African-inspired dishes of vegetables, grilled and smoked meats, flatbreads, pickles and dessert. There is a selection of wines, beers, ciders and some of the most delicious cocktails around.
Africola can be found at 4 East Terrace Adelaide, a short walk from the Botanic Gardens tram stop.
Adelaide would have to be one of the cultural capitals of Australia and this is reflected in the many festivals hosted in the city.
Adelaide Fringe Festival, The WOMADelaide Festival and Adelaide Cabaret Festival are just some of the festivals that showcase a wide variety of talent from Australia and across the world.
The best way to enjoy a Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills day trip is to take a tour. Here are just two of our favourite Adelaide tours.
Barossa Valley Wineries Tour with Tastings and Lunch from Adelaide
This fantastic full day tour takes you on a Barossa Valley wine-tasting tour from Adelaide. Visit the cellar doors of four wineries. Admire the rose gardens at Chateau Yaldara and enjoy wine tastings with a lunch platter of local artisanal goods at Peter Lehmann and much more.
Small Group Adelaide Hills and Hahndorf Hideaway Tour from Adelaide
This Adelaide Hills culinary tour takes you to some of the region’s best food producers. Relax and enjoy the scenery as you stop to taste a range of cheese, chocolate, and wine before indulging in a delightful German style lunch.
8 day Upper Murraylands Cruise on PS Murray Princess from Adelaide
This 8 day Upper Murraylands Cruise on the PS Murray Princess will have you stepping back in time to when paddle steamers ruled the Murray River.
Visit the picturesque towns of Waikerie, Morgan and Swan Reach. As you make your way upstream marvel at the beauty and wildlife that live in the bushy islands and the towering sandstone cliffs that line the river.
Be spoilt by the great range of onboard meals and laugh the night away with the live entertainment. Enjoy lunch at Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre. Spend a morning at the peaceful setting of Caudo Vineyard and much more.
We had the pleasure of taking an 8 day Upper Murraylands Cruise on the PS Murray Princess and you can read our review here.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to Adelaide Accommodation. The city has a hotel style for every traveller, from luxury to budget Adelaide has you covered.
Next stop on our Darwin and Adelaide road trip is Port Augusta. The distance between Adelaide and Port Augusta is 308 km and should take around 3 ½ hours to drive.
Port Augusta sits on the Spencer Gulf and is the gateway to the Flinders Ranges. From here you can choose to do a side trip to the Flinders Ranges before continuing the road trip to Darwin.
Port Augusta is the last city before Darwin and while you will be passing through the towns of Woomera, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine it is important to stock up on last minute essentials before continuing your travels.
Things to do in Port Augusta
On our road trip from Adelaide to Darwin we spent the night at Port Augusta. There are a few things to see in Port Augusta, here are two of our favourites.
Wadlata Outback Centre
Walk through the jaws of a giant lizard and be transported through a tunnel of time to learn the story of the outback from prehistoric times to the present day.
After visiting the attractions head over to the Outback Tuckerbox Café for coffee and cake. The Wadlata Outback Centre also has a fantastic gift shop for those last minute souvenirs.
Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden
More than two-thirds of Australia is arid or semi-arid and what may look barren and lifeless is in fact a unique ecosystem that supports a wide range of animal, bird and plant life.
The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden is just outside Port Augusta and there are a range of guided and self-guided walks on four specially marked walking tracks. A highlight is the Red Cliff Walk where you can enjoy spectacular views of Spencer Gulf and the Flinders Ranges
The Gardens café is a favourite Of Port Augusta locals and serves an interesting array of dishes which incorporate native ingredients including their famous lemon myrtle pancakes with quandong ice-cream. The gift and garden shop sells a variety of souvenirs and plants.
Where to Stay in Port Augusta
Our choice for Port Augusta accommodation is the Discovery Parks Port Augusta. Here you will find a range of accommodation styles including motel rooms, cabins, caravan park and campgrounds.
We had the pleasure of staying in the motel and found the room to be comfortable. Room facilities included a TV, kettle, toaster, microwave, fridge, cutlery & crockery, iron, dining table and chairs. Onsite facilities included pool and laundry amenities.
Port Augusta to Woomera
The journey from Port Augusta to Woomera is 186 km and takes about 2 hours to drive. For me visiting Woomera was a nostalgia trip and I was excited to be revisiting. My parents lived in Woomera during the 1970’s and I had my 21st Birthday at Spuds Roadhouse at Pimba, which is just outside of Woomera.
As you drive from Port Augusta to Woomera you will pass bright white saltpans, grassy plains, majestic mesas, bushland and endless landscapes of saltbush. I travelled the road from Adelaide to Woomera many times during the 1970’s and I don’t think I appreciated the arid beauty of the area at the time.
Woomera Rocket Range came to life just after World War II. During the war German V2 rockets devastated cities across England and the rocket range was built to construct and test new rockets for defence.
In 1967 Australia gained international recognition when it became a member of the “Space Club” when the WRESAT satellite was launched from Woomera.
During its heyday Woomera had an international population that included Australian, English, French and American. At its peak Woomera was home to around 7,000 people, in the 1970’s the population dwindled to 4,000 and Woomera currently has a population of around 150.
These days the Cold War seems light years away and the fear of intercontinental missile threat from the former Soviet Union a dim memory. A visit to Woomera will give a glimpse into the days when Australia was one of the world leaders in aerospace technology.
Things to do in Woomera
Woomera has a large display of rockets, planes and rocket launchers in the Missile Park and the Woomera Heritage & Visitor Centre has an interesting museum which tells the history of Woomera.
Spud’s Roadhouse at Pimba
Before you leave the area make sure to drop into Spud’s Roadhouse to grab a bite to eat and refuel. While there check out the memorabilia on display in the café.
Woomera to Coober Pedy
Woomera to Coober Pedy is 380 km and takes approximately 4 hours to drive. There are a couple of scenic lookouts along the highway, the Island Lagoon Lookout and the Lake Hart Rest Area.
The Island Lagoon Lookout has impressive views of a salt lake and the Lake Hart Rest Area looks out across the tranquil waters of Lake Hart. At Lake Hart Rest Area, you will find several interesting information boards telling the story of the local indigenous people and early explorers of the region.
Make sure to stop off at Glendambo Roadhouse for fuel and a comfort stop. The roadhouse also has a motel and caravan park for anyone wanting a break from the road.
As you get closer to Coober Pedy you will notice large mounds dotting the countryside, this almost alien landscape marks the beginning of the underground opal mines.
When visiting Coober Pedy, it is important to note that some attractions close during low season in the hot summer months from December to February. High season is between May and October when temperatures are cooler. During high season Coober Pedy is busy so make sure to book hotels and attractions in advance to avoid disappointment.
Things to do in Coober Pedy
There are many things to see in Coober Pedy, here are just a few of our favourite attractions which are well worth a visit.
The Old Timers Mine
When you arrive in Coober Pedy you will be struck by the parched landscape and wonder how anyone could live in such a harsh environment.
The Old Timers Mine takes you underground to learn about the history of opal mining and the lifestyle of the fearless “opal gougers” of Coober Pedy. There are several dugouts to explore including the fully furnished dugout home of Ron Gough and his family. Dugouts were a great alternative to above ground housing as they were cooler and needed less energy to maintain.
The Big Winch 360
The Big Winch 360 sits proudly on a hill and can be seen from all over Coober Pedy. If you are looking for the best views in town look no further than the winch as it gives you a perfect view of Coober Pedy.
While there you can also see the Steel Tree which was created by Bob Amorosi to give his children tree climbing experience in a town that at the time had no trees.
The Big Winch 360 Cinema takes you on a journey as big as the outback. While there have a break from sightseeing at the Big Winch 360 Café and indulge in one of the variety of dishes on the menu.
The Opal Cave
The first thing you notice when you visit the Opal Cave is the spaceship parked out front. Looking like something out of Star Wars the spaceship is in fact an original prop from the movie Pitch Black which starred Vin Diesel.
Inside the Opal Cave you will find an Aladdin’s Cave of opal jewellery, paintings, glassware and trinkets.
Catholic Church of St Peter & St Paul
There are a few interesting churches in Coober Pedy, but my favourite is the Catholic Church of St Peter & St Paul. This small but pretty underground church has a style unique to Coober Pedy.
Coober Pedy Tours
Of course, many people like the comfort and ease of taking a tour, this is especially true for anyone on a tight timeframe. Below is a tour which is jampacked with attractions and experiences.
Adelaide To Coober Pedy 7 Day Small Group 4WD Safari
If driving to Coober Pedy from Adelaide is not your style this wonderful 7 day tour from Adelaide will take you to many iconic South Australian outback destinations. Below are the highlights of this tour which include the following and so much more.
- Pt Augusta Wadlata Outback Centre
- Coober Pedy Mine tour
- Coober Pedy Underground accommodation
- Dingo Fence
- Brachina & Bunyeroo Gorges
- Wilpena Pound
- Southern Flinders Ranges
- Woomera Rocket Range
- The Oodnadatta Track
- Flinders Ranges National Park
- Clare Valley wine tasting.
Coober Pedy Accommodation
There is a good choice of accommodation in Coober Pedy but make sure to book early especially if you are travelling during high season between May and October as Coober Pedy swells with tourists.
Coober Pedy is famous for its underground living and many visitors like to experience this unique underground lifestyle. There are a variety of hotels that have underground accommodation. During our trip we stayed at the Underground Hotel Coober Pedy.
Underground Hotel Coober Pedy
The Underground Hotel Coober Pedy is perched on a hill with sweeping views of Coober Pedy and beyond. Carved into a hill this Mediterranean themed hotel features dugout style accommodation that allows you to get a feel for underground living.
The rooms are comfortable, and you can see the ridges in the wall where rock has been gouged out of the mountain. For those wanting a self-catering holiday there is a shared kitchen with fridge, microwave and stove top. Of an afternoon enjoy the sunset views with a glass of wine on the shared outdoor sitting area.
Coober Pedy to Ghan NT
The next stop is Ghan in the Northern Territory. Coober Pedy to Ghan is 488 km and takes roughly 5 hours to drive. Along the way you will see endless sunburnt plains that stretch out to the horizon. As you drive be on the lookout for wandering livestock.
Cadney Homestead Roadhouse
The first fuel and comfort stop is at Cadney Homestead Roadhouse. Here you can have a bite to eat and if you are tired take a break from the road at the adjoining motel or caravan park.
Marla Travellers Rest
The second fuel stop is Marla, there is a large roadhouse with supermarket, post office, motel and caravan park. Marla is the last roadhouse before the South Australian/Northern Territory border.
As you drive towards the border the scenery changes and sunburnt plains make way for trees and mesas rise amid the landscape.
The Kulgera Roadhouse is home to the first and last pub in The Northern Territory depending on which direction you are travelling. If you are wanting a break from the road there is a selection of motel style rooms and a caravan park.
Kulgera Pub is filled with character and has an interesting range of hats and bras hanging from the ceiling. A visit to the pub will definitely give you a story to tell your friends back home.
Erldunda Roadhouse at Ghan NT
Ghan is located at the intersection of the Stuart Highway and the Lasseter Highway which leads to Uluru.
The Erldunda Roadhouse at Ghan is a popular overnight stop as it is a steppingstone to Uluru and breaks the journey to Alice Springs. The distance from Ghan to Uluru is 267 km and takes around 3 hours to drive. If you are continuing to drive from Ghan to Alice Springs distance is 200 km with a drive time of around 2 hours.
The Erldunda Roadhouse has a motel and caravan park with pool and there is a bar and restaurant on site. The meals at the roadhouse are superb but bring an appetite as the servings are huge.
Ghan to Uluru (Ayres Rock)
If you are planning a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin, consider tacking on a side trip to Uluru. Formerly known as Ayres Rock, this iconic Australian landmark has a mystical air and seeing it up close is a truly humbling experience.
Ghan to Uluru is 267 km and takes around 3 hours to drive. As you drive make sure to be on the lookout for wandering livestock.
Standing amid a great flat plain is Mount Conner, a huge flat-topped monolith which is estimated to be around 500 million years old. At first glance Mount Conner is often mistaken for Uluru and is a spectacular sight to see. For the best photos of Mount Conner stop off at the Mount Conner Lookout.
Uluru & Kata Tjuta
Uluru (Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and are 45 minutes’ drive apart. Both are sacred sites to the local Anangu people.
Uluru Viewing Areas
For the most stunning shots of Uluru, make sure to visit at sunrise or sunset. During these times Uluru puts on a show as it turns from soft dusky pink to burnt orange and fiery red. There are designated sunset and sunrise viewing areas that capture the best views of Uluru. If you cannot stay for sunset or sunrise do not despair as Uluru changes its colours throughout the day.
To learn more about these areas make sure to read our Travel Guide on Uluru.
Seeing Uluru up close is overwhelming, the rock is immense and so much larger than you can imagine. The surface is scarred with deep gashes and caves, large pebbles litter its base and patterns swirl and plunge down its slopes.
Around the base there are several walks that will take you through scenic landscapes and tell the history and creation stories of the Anangu people.
To get the best out of Uluru and Kata Tjuta we advise taking a tour. Watch the sun set over Uluru with a glass of bubbles and an outback barbecue, capture the glory of an Uluru sunrise from the back of a camel or take a scenic flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. These are just some of the Uluru Tours on offer.
You will find that all Uluru accommodation is at Yulara which is 25 km from Uluru. There is a choice of Uluru accommodation options which include luxury hotels, apartments, glamping and camping.
If you are planning an apartment or camping stay Yulata has an IGA supermarket for all your self-catering needs. You can refuel at the Shell Ayres Rock Service Station before continuing your road trip from Adelaide to Darwin.
Uluru to Alice Springs
Uluru to Alice Springs is 467 km with a drive time of around 5 hours. If you are travelling from the Erldunda Roadhouse at Ghan the distance from Ghan to Alice Springs is 200 km and takes about 2 hours to drive. As you drive along the Stuart Highway towards Alice Springs you will pass the rocky outcrops of the James Ranges.
Stuarts Well Roadhouse & Caravan Park
There is a fuel and comfort stop at Stuarts Well Roadhouse & Caravan Park. The roadhouse has a welcoming feel with a pleasant dining and bar area where you can enjoy a meal or relax with a beer.
The roadhouse is next to Camels Australia where you can experience the lifestyle of local Camaleers and their family of 45 dromedary camels.
Alice Springs is cradled by the majestic West MacDonnell Ranges. The town is one of the remotest places in Australia and has had an intriguing indigenous and pioneering past.
The seeds for building better remote regional healthcare and education were planted in Alice Springs leading to the creation of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air.
Apart from this incredible history Alice Springs sits on the doorstep of some of the most stunning landscapes of the MacDonnell Ranges.
Things to do in Alice Springs
There are heaps of things to see in Alice Springs, here are four of our favourites. If you want more information on Alice Springs, make sure to read our Alice Springs segment in our travel guide for Uluru.
For the best views of Alice Springs head on up to Anzac Hill. This peaceful memorial was unveiled on 25 April 1934 and pays tribute to the members of the armed services who paid the supreme sacrifice in the wars and conflicts in which Australia participated.
From the memorial you can take in panoramic views of Alice Springs and the surrounding West MacDonnell Ranges.
Simpson’s Gap is a short drive from Alice Springs and has an easy grade walking track which will take you through picturesque scenery of towering canyon walls, sandy creek beds and quiet bushland. Simpson’s Gap is in the West MacDonnell Ranges and is a must to see when visiting Alice Springs.
Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve
Established in 1871 the telegraph station was the first European settlement in the red centre. What is surprising is the alien like terrain that encircles the station, it is both stark and beautiful at the same time.
There is a collection of historic buildings to explore, a shady picnic and barbeque area to enjoy or relax with a cool drink in the café.
Alice Springs Tour
If you like taking day tours Alice Springs has some of the best. Discover the beauty of the West MacDonnell Ranges, take an Alice Springs camel tour or watch a glorious sunrise from a hot air balloon with bubbles. Alice Springs has a great range of tours to choose from.
Alice Springs to Uluru Tours
Another great way to see Uluru is to take a tour from Alice Springs. This Ayres Rock (Uluru) day trip from Alice Spring is a popular tour as it takes you to many of the top Uluru and Kata Tjura attractions.
- Uluru (Ayres Rock)
- Kata Tjuta (the Olgas)
- Erldunda Roadhouse
- Walpa Gorge
- Mala Walk
- Mutitjulu Waterhole
- Australian barbecue dinner buffet with bubbles
Alice Springs Accommodation
While Alice Springs has a good range of accommodation it is important to note that the town gets busy through the high season between May and October. During these cooler months make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
We stayed in two different styles of accommodation during our stay in Alice Springs, the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters and the Desert Palms Alice Springs.
The Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters
The Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters is a 4 star hotel which has a variety of onsite restaurants and bars. The Crown Plaza adjoins Lasseters Casino and is a short walk to the convention centre.
Rooms have a modern décor, beds and pillows comfortable. Facilities include a pool, gym and function rooms.
Desert Palms Alice Springs
The Desert Palms Alice Springs has self-catering villa accommodation which is set in lush tropical gardens. Rooms are comfortable and come with kitchenette, private bathroom and bougainvillea-covered sitting areas. There is a pool, barbeque facilities and guest’s laundry facilities.
Alice Springs to Tennant Creek
The next town on our Alice Springs to Darwin road trip is Tennant Creek. Alice Springs to Tennant Creek is 508 km and takes approximately 5 hours to drive.
As you drive you will pass rocky mountain outcrops, thick bushland and the rusty red soil of the red centre.
Between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek you will find an assortment of roadhouses that showcase a character which ranges from the unique to the downright quirky.
Make sure to take time to stop off at the Devils Marbles which is 96 km south of Tennant Creek.
The first thing you see as you drive towards the Aileron Roadhouse is the giant statue of the Anmatjere Man standing on the hill. This impressive 17 metre statue of an Aboriginal man with spear was created by sculptor Mark Egan.
Also in the grounds of the roadhouse is the equally striking statue of the Anmatjere Woman & Child. The Aileron Roadhouse is a must to visit as you drive between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.
Ti Tree Roadhouse
The Ti Tree Roadhouse is a pleasant place to stop to refuel and get a bite to eat. At the entrance there are a series of colourful murals which depict native animals.
Another fuel stop is Barrow Creek, here you can see the historic Barrow Creek Telegraph Station which was built in 1872.
The Barrow Creek Telegraph Station is one of only four stations still intact from the original Overland Telegraph line which ran from Port Augusta in South Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Wyncliffe Well Roadhouse
With a reputation of being the U.F.O. capital of Australia do not be surprised to see little green men, in fact the place is crawling with them.
Wyncliffe Well has taken alien invasion to a whole new level and it is a fun place to stop and refresh. If you are feeling tired take a break from the road at Wyncliffe Well Holiday Park.
Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu)
To the local Warmungu Aboriginal people the Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles) are the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent.
No matter what you believe you will be captivated by this imposing collection of granite boulders which stand over 6 metres high. Boulders are scattered across the valley and there is a short self-guided walk that explains the dreaming stories of the Warmungu people.
Tennant Creek is a small town with a rich history shaped by the timeless spirit of the Warumungu people, the courageous pioneering cattle kings and adventurous gold miners.
If you would like to learn more about Tennant Creeks mining past stop off at the Battery Hill Mining Centre.
Tennant Creek Accommodation
The best choice for Tennant Creek accommodation is the Safari Lodge Motel. The motel has onsite security parking and rooms come with a microwave and fridge. There are a choice of accommodation styles including deluxe queen, twin and family rooms.
Tennant Creek to Katherine
Tennant Creek to Katherine is 674 km and takes roughly 7 hours to drive. The landscape constantly changes throughout the journey from bushland to vast plains and dramatic rock formations.
As you drive you will pass many roadhouses that sell food and refreshment. Most of these roadhouses feature motel and caravan park accommodation. There are also rest stops on the side of the road if you are feeling fatigued.
The Threeways Roadhouse is the first roadhouse after Tennant Creek. The service station is just north of the intersection between the Barkly Highway and the Stuart Highway. The Barkly Highway travels across the Northern Territory to Queensland.
Renner Springs Desert Hotel & Roadhouse
Renner Springs is a leafy green oasis shaded by tall gum trees. The roadhouse offers meals, has a bar area and an adjoining motel and caravan park.
Elliot is a small community which has a Puma service station for refuelling.
First thing you notice when you pull into the Highway Inn at Daly Waters is the aircraft sitting out front. The Highway Inn has a great selection of meals, a bar area and there is an adjoining motel, cabins and campgrounds.
Larrimah Pink Panther Hotel
Everyone needs to visit Larrimah as it is not often you get to see the Pink Panther flying a gyrocopter over an enormous Northern Territory stubby (trust me you just have to see it).
The Larrimah Pink Panther Hotel is a Northern Territory icon which has been around for over 50 years. This quirky hotel has accommodation and a caravan park.
Mataranka is a small town with has a good selection of accommodation. Mataranka featured in the novel We of the Never by Jeannie Gunn. The town is a steppingstone to Mataranka Hot Springs and the Elsey National Park.
After driving through the endless outback terrain, Katherine is a welcome relief. The town has everything you need, a Woolworth Supermarket, a good range of accommodation, a McDonalds and Domino’s Pizza, a sure sign that you are back in civilisation.
Katherine is where the outback meets the tropics and has a wet and dry season. The wet season is between December to March, and you may experience flooding during this time.
Things to do in Katherine
Katherine is the steppingstone to the attractions of the Nitmiluk National Park. Places such a Leliyn (Edith Falls), the Jatbula Trail and the famous Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) are reasons to spend quality time in Katherine.
Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge)
The Nitmiluk Gorge is 27 km from Katherine in the Nitmiluk National Park. Nitmiluk Gorge is also known by its former name of Katherine Gorge. These spectacular sandstone gorges have been sculpted by the Katherine River and are a peaceful oasis within this dry and rocky land. The local Jawoyn people are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park and as you explore you will find ancient rock art that tells the story of these proud people.
Leliyn and the Jatbula Trail
The Jatbula Trail is a 62 kilometre walk that departs from Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) and crosses the edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment to Leliyn (Edith Falls). The walk travels through stunning scenery and takes between 5 to 6 days to complete.
For more information on the Jatbula Trail click here.
One of the best ways to experience Katherine is to take a tour. This tour is one of the most popular in the Northern Territory.
Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge Cruise
One of the best ways to get the most out of Nitmiluk Gorge is to take a cruise. We took this cruise and found it to be highly informative, we learnt so much about Jawoyn history and culture while exploring the beauty of the gorge. This cruise was one of the highlights of our visit to the Northern Territory.
Click here for more information on Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge Cruise
There is a good range of Katherine accommodation to choose from including resorts, motels and holiday parks.
For those wanting to get close to the attractions of Nitmiluk Gorge look no further than the Cicada Lodge. This 5 star lodge sits on the banks of the Katherine River at Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge. Each room is elegantly furnished with Indigenous inspired furnishings and artworks. Rooms are air-conditioned and features include coffee machine and flat screen TV. Cicada Lodge boasts an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant and a bar.
Last stop Darwin
Next stop is Darwin the final leg on our road trip from Adelaide to Darwin. The city is the capital of the Northern Territory and is affectionately known as the Top End as it is Australia’s most northerly city.
The distance from Katherine to Darwin is 317 km and takes around 3 hours to drive. Along the way you can stop off at the Adelaide River War Cemetery to honour the 63 civilians who were killed in the bombing of Darwin on the 19 February 1942.
Things to do in Darwin
There are quite a few places of interest to see on a Darwin trip. This modern multicultural city has a fascinating history and is the gateway to the splendour of the Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks. Here are just some of our favourite attractions in and around Darwin.
If you would like to learn more about Darwin, make sure to read our road trip article from Darwin to Perth.
The Darwin Waterfront
Experience the lush parklands and relax on the man-made beach at the saltwater Recreation Lagoon. Take a refreshing dip in the Wave Lagoon or have hours of fun at the Aqua Park. Enjoy a selection of international delights at one of the many restaurants and bars that line the Darwin Waterfront.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market
One of Darwin’s most famous attractions is the Mindil Beach Sunset Market. This market holds over 200 stalls which showcase Darwin’s multicultural vibe. Here you can sample an interesting range of world cuisines and discover an exciting array of arts & crafts. Relax and enjoy live entertainment as the sun sets over Mindil Beach and the Timor Sea. The market operates during the dry season between late April and late October from 4 pm to 9 pm.
Kakadu National Park
You cannot visit Darwin without seeing the unspoilt beauty of Kakadu National Park. Just three hours’ drive from Darwin the Kakadu National Park stretches across 20,000 square kilometres and is the homeland of the Bininj and Mungguy people.
This stunning landscape has an ancient heart with a diverse ecosystem of peaceful wetlands, picturesque waterfalls and lush rainforests which support a wide variety of wildlife.
For those wanting to take a tour there is a selection of memorable Darwin day trips to choose from. Here are some of the must do Darwin Tours.
Enjoy a Darwin Harbour Sunset Cruise or learn about the day war came to Darwin with the Darwin Harbour Bombing of Darwin Cruise. Take the worry about seeing all of Darwin’s attractions with a Darwin Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. Or get out of town and take a tour of Litchfield or Kakadu National Parks.
Need a place to stay in Darwin? The city has a huge range of accommodation styles from 5 star luxury waterfront hotels, resorts, apartments and budget hotels.
Book today to secure the best price.
Top tips for a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin
The Adelaide to Darwin drive takes you on a 3,030 km journey on the National Highway A1 and the Stuart Highway. Planning your trip beforehand is essential as you will be covering great distances and travelling through small communities with limited accommodation options. It is advisable to book hotels and caravan parks well in advance.
Although the towns are few and far between you will travel through some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Endless plains stretch out to the horizon and you will acquire a newfound respect for how vast and isolated most of Australia is.
Between the towns you will find numerous roadhouses which sell fuel and food. Many have motels and caravan parks attached and some have their own unique character which will put a smile on your face.
The drive is broken by unforgettable treasures such as Emu families running across the landscape. Watch eagles soar overhead and be astounded by their massive wingspan. Fall in love with majestic mountain ranges, rocky outcrops and the rich rusty colours of the red centre.
As with any Australian outback road trip make sure to take plenty of water, food and if you break down make sure to stay with your car. Below are a few things that should be considered before taking any Aussie road trip.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.
- Carry plenty of water and food.
- At SA and NT border quarantine you will need to dispose of fruit & vegetables.
- Be aware that phone coverage is sparse.
- If you break down do not leave your car.
- Try not to travel between dusk and dawn to avoid kangaroos and nocturnal animals.
Be aware that fuel prices in remote parts of Australia can be expensive, if you want to save money and feel secure an option is to carry your own fuel in jerry cans. This was not an option for us as we did not have the room, but we found that topping up at every roadhouse gave us more than enough fuel to get from A to B.
Best Time for a Road Trip From Adelaide to Darwin
When planning a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin be aware that weather is going to be an important factor on which time of year you visit.
Driving from Adelaide to Darwin takes you through a diverse range of weather systems from a Mediterranean climate in Adelaide, a hot desert climate in Alice Springs and a tropical climate in Darwin. During Australia’s summer months the centre of Australia endures scorching heat, and the Top End around Darwin experiences the monsoon rains of the wet season.
The most pleasant time to take a road trip Adelaide to Darwin is from May to October when the weather is cooler in central Australia and northern Australia experiences its dry season.
**Australia’s seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is from December to February, autumn is between March and May, Winter from June to August and September to November is spring.
Adelaide is perfect to visit year round. The city has hot, dry summers and cool winters with average temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius during summer from December to February. Average winter temperatures from June to August reach around 8 degrees Celsius.
*Note that temperatures of -4 Celsius have been recorded in winter and temperatures of 40 Celsius have been recorded during summer.
Alice Springs/Uluru Weather
The most pleasant time to visit Alice Springs and Uluru is during the cooler months between May and October when average temperatures reach 20 to 5 degrees Celsius.
While you can still visit during summer average temperatures soar to around 36 to 21 degrees Celsius. During the hotter months from November to February you will see a huge increase in the fly population and while they are small, they are extremely annoying.
*Note that temperatures of -7 Celsius have been recorded in winter and temperatures of 47 Celsius have been recorded during summer.
The best time to visit Darwin is in the dry season. Darwin’s dry season runs from May to September with average temperatures reaching between 32 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Darwin’s wet season lasts from December to March and brings flooding to a vast area of Northern Australia. Average temperatures during the wet season reach around 34 to 25 degrees Celsius.
*Note that temperatures of 10 Celsius have been recorded in winter and temperatures of 40 Celsius have been recorded during summer.
Frequent Asked Questions about road trip from Adelaide to Darwin
Yes the highway from Adelaide to Darwin is sealed
Yes there are roadhouses along the highway. Our advice is to fill your vehicle at each major roadhouse.
The distance between Adelaide and Alice Springs via the Stuart Highway is 1534 Km
The distance between Alice Springs and Darwin via the Stuart Highway is 1496 Km
Yes the turnoff to Uluru is at Ghan at the intersection of the Stuart Highway and the Lasseter Highway about 2 hours south of Alice Springs and the distance from Ghan to Uluru is 267 Km
Last Words on our road trip from Adelaide to Darwin
A road trip from Adelaide to Darwin will take you to some of the most iconic and character filled towns in Australia. Along the way you will discover the outback’s unique beauty and the courage and fortitude of those who make this land their home.
Taking this journey has opened my eyes to an Australia that few think about while treading the pavements of Australia’s most populated cities. This Australia is home to a down to earth people with a heart of gold, who hold on to the larrikin spirit that Australia was founded on.
Have you been on a road trip from Adelaide to Darwin? We would love to hear about your experiences, feel free to leave a comment.
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