Travelling north through the centre of Australia seems a daunting trip, but at an average of just more than 400km per day, you still have plenty of time to check out the natural and man-made attractions along the way.
Here’s one suggested route.
After leaving Adelaide, drive through the scenic Clare Valley wine region; then along the edge of the Flinders Ranges to Port Augusta.
From Port Augusta it’s all outback scenery with the drive along the Stuart Shelf, make sure to keep an eye out for some unexpectedly spectacular land formations.
Another must see is Woomera, famous for its military history as a weapons testing area. The “Woomera Range Complex” (WRC) is a huge Defence systems testing range covering an area of approximately 122,000 square kilometres, which is roughly the size of England.
Visit the Outdoor Missile Park to see examples of the weapons tested in the area since World War 2.
Travel the Central Tablelands through mesas, low hills and salt lakes before reaching the Stuart Range near Coober Pedy, where the landscape is dominated by mullock heaps.
Stay overnight in Coober Pedy’s famous underground accommodation after spending some time looking for Opals in the tourist “noodling” area.
Start your day very early and once past the mullock heaps, you’ll see red sandy soil and vegetation cover, low hills, then the Indulkana range past Marla.
Across the border in the Northern Territory, granite outcrops appear before you enter the Amadeus basin, a former seabed.
It’s difficult to just spend one day and night here as there is so much to see and large distances between sites. Make sure you experience the Sounds of Silence dinner and Field of Light at night.
There is so much to do in Alice Springs including museums that explore every aspect of Australian history in the Red Centre, Aboriginal art galleries and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Get on the road early to give yourself as much time to enjoy “the Alice” as possible
The ranges around Alice Springs flatten out into the grassy plains and rocky outcrops of the Barkly Tablelands.
The Wycliffe Well Roadhouse has unusual murals, strange otherworldly figurines and the Elvis campsite is worth a look.
Just up the road past the Wauchope Hotel are the Devils Marbles. While they’re at their best at sunrise or sunset, they’re worth stopping for any time of day.
The country changes again as you get closer to Katherine, located on the edge of Nitmiluk National Park (also known as Katherine Gorge).
This is a crossroads and stocking-up point for travellers heading west to Kununurra or east to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The thermal pools just out of town are a popular gathering point at the end of a long day on the road.
Take a morning tour to Katherine Gorge or nearby Cutta Cutta Caves before completing the drive to Darwin.
If you have an extra day, take the scenic route through Kakadu National Park, with its distinctive landmarks, walks, tours and attractions, then to Jabiru, then via Mary River and Humpty Doo to Darwin.