14 Day Selfdrive Route Explorers Way Adelaide to Darwin
Access: 2 Wheel Drive on sealed
and unsealed roads access
Start: From Adelaide
Finish: To Darwin in Northern Territory
Highlights: Coober Pedy, Alice Springs,
(Detour to Uluru - Ayers Rock) Devils Marbles, Tennant
Creek, Katherine, Pine Creek, (Detour Litchfield National
The Explorer's Way follows the route of John McDouall
Stuart, a famous Australian explorer who was the first
to traverse the continent in 1862. This drive connects
Australia's south and north, from Adelaide in South
Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory, and takes
in many of Australia's best-known icons, including the
Flinders Ranges, Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayers Rock) (as
a detour), Kakadu National Park (detour) and Darwin.
Day 1 to Day 6: Adelaide to Coober Pedy
Set off from Adelaide, through South Australia's
winegrowing and picturesque farming country,
to Coober Pedy, just south of the Northern Territory
Day 7: Coober Pedy to Alice Springs
Coober Pedy to Alice Springs, 690 kms.
Depart Coober Pedy and travel over the state / territory
border to Alice Springs. At Cadney Park take the detour
east to the stunning Painted Desert (allow at least
three hours for this side trip). From Marla, the highway
heads north through grasslands, granite country and
over the Finke River and on to Alice Springs, the heart
of the Red Centre of Australia.
||Sidetrip: Detour 3-5
days to Uluru
You might also consider a detour of traveling
to Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock) National Park and Kings
Canyon via the Red Centre Way tourist drive, which branches
off the Explorer's Way at Erldunda.
Day 8: Alice Springs to Wycliffe
Well Alice Springs to Wycliffe Well, 375 kms.
Heading north from Alice Springs, visit the Alice Springs
School of the Air and hear a lesson being broadcast
to students in a 1.3 million square-km classroom. Stop
off at Ti Tree and sample fine table grapes and sparkling
mango wine produced in the outback by visionary farmers.
Enjoy the rich colours of the desert traveling north
to Wycliffe Well - reputed to be Australia's UFO capital
-accommodation ranges from pitching a tent to three-star
Day 9: Wycliffe Well to Tennant Creek
Wycliffe Well to Tennant Creek, 130 kms.
Marvel at the extraordinary Devils Marbles, finely
balanced piles of huge boulders believed by Aboriginal
people to be the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent (it's explained
at the Nyinkka Nyunyu Culture Centre). Explore the friendly
town of Tennant Creek in the afternoon. The site of
Australia's last major gold rush in the 1930s, the town
offers many opportunities to experience gold fever -
with tours, heritage sites, fossicking and panning for
gold. Cool off with a dip in nearby Mary Ann Dam.
Day 10: Tennant Creek to Daly Waters
Tennant Creek to Daly Waters, 400 kms.
Explore the scenic Elliott and Newcastle Waters Discovery
Trail, a network of roads (some are four-wheel-drive
only) branching off the main highway to huge cattle
stations, character-filled outback pubs and landmarks
of World War II. Spend the night at a wayside inn, at
the junction of the Stuart and Carpentaria highways,
the gateway to the fishing paradise of the Gulf region,
or continue on to Daly Waters, a tiny hamlet built around
the Territory's oldest pub.
Day 11: Daly Waters to Mataranka
Daly Waters to Mataranka, 165 kms.
Call in at the historic Larrimah Wayside Inn for a
cool drink - and make time for a visit to the Larrimah
Museum for a fascinating look at the area's World War
Continue to Mataranka for a pleasant dip in the warm
Stay at a motel or campsite at Mataranka, or camp overnight
in Elsey National Park.
Day 12: Mataranka to Katherine
Mataranka to Katherine, 105 kms.
Explore the Katherine region, especially spectacular
Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge). Boat cruises
and canoeing are great ways to experience the grandeur
of this special place, or go bushwalking in the area.
A short drive from Katherine is Springvale Homestead,
built from sandstone by explorer and pastoralist Alfred
Giles in 1878. Enjoy a Devonshire tea while learning
more about the area's history.
Day 13: Katherine to Lake Bennett
Katherine to Lake Bennett, 260 kms. You might also
chose to head to Kakadu National Park on the Nature's
Way Tourist Drive, which branches off the Explorer's
Way at Pine Creek. Meet some local characters at wayside
inns on the way to the historic World War II township
of Adelaide River.
Day 14: Litchfield to Darwin
Litchfield to Darwin, 130 kms. Visit nearby Litchfield
National Park and see stunning waterfalls and amazing
termite mounds - and swim safely in crystal-clear swimming
holes. (Though heed all warnings).
Enjoy the first glimpse of the Timor Sea by following
the Explorer's Way right into the heart of Darwin.