The next location for our ‘Holiday Here this Summer Road Trip’ series is the amazing Northern Territory. Known for its red dirt, natural treasures and ancient Aboriginal culture, the NT is considered the home of the real Outback.
This exciting road trip is a big one and although you could squeeze it into a week, we recommend allowing two weeks to make the most of it.
As you’ll be travelling long distances over remote desert land, remember plenty of water and jerry cans for fuel! Also, it’s important to remain crocwise when visiting certain areas in the Northern Territory. Check out the NT Tourism website for the latest safety advice before you travel.
Stop 1 – Katherine
The first stop is Katherine. It’s so steeped in natural beauty you’ll want to spend at least two days here to get the full experience. On the way, stop at the Nitmiluk National Park to admire the Nitmiluk Gorge and the Jawoyn people rock art. If you want to spend some extra time here, consider taking a helicopter ride or going for a swim.
Described as the place where the Outback meets the tropics, you will be awe-struck by Katherine. Book a cruise down the Katherine Gorge and explore the Aboriginal culture during your stay. We also can’t go past the Katherine Hot Springs or the Outback Experience.
Before your departure from Katherine, be sure to stock up on all essentials including petrol and food as it’s a long drive to Tennant Creek.
Stop 2 – Mataranka (Optional)
A short 107 km drive from Katherine is the small pastoral town, Mataranka. Whether you decide to stay here the night or use it as a short pit stop, you will be captivated by its appearance. Featuring crystal clear thermal pools and with the Elsey National Park nearby, this location is nothing short of paradise.
Stop 3 – Tennant Creek
To reach Tennant Creek it’s a 675 km drive from Katherine or 567 km from Mataranka. Have a break at Daly Waters and leave your mark in the Daly Waters Pub – a tradition that began in the 80s.
While you’re in Tennant Creek check out the Battery Hill Mining Centre, the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station and go four-wheel driving in the Davenport Range National Park. After this, you can go for a swim or canoe and relax by Lake Mary Ann.
Stop 4 – Alice Springs
Your next stop is a straight 508 kms to Alice Springs. About an hour into your trip, take a pit stop to check out the iconic Devils Marbles. There’s plenty to do in Alice Springs, so consider spending a couple nights to experience it all and to rest before the next leg of your journey.
For some more adventure, tackle the Larapinta trail and go camel riding into the West MacDonnell Ranges. If that’s not enough, some other fun options include mountain biking, quad bikes and four-wheel driving. Then, complete your day with a breathtaking experience on a sunset hot air balloon ride.
The West MacDonnell Ranges and Finke Gorge National Parks are also within close proximity to Alice Springs. Experience the wildlife and natural landscapes by embarking on one of the numerous bushwalks available. You’ll be left awe-struck by the beauty that is Outback Australia.
Stop 5 – Uluru
The expedition to the famous sandstone rock formation, Uluru, is 468 kms from Alice Springs. Along the way, you may catch a break at Kulgera Roadhouse for something to eat and to stretch your legs.
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world and a deeply spiritual place. Make the most of your experience here by going on a tour, seeing the Maruku Arts and take part in a Desert Awakening. Not for the faint hearted, you can even go sky diving! Complete the experience of a lifetime by sitting back and watching the colours change during sunset.
Stop 6 – Kings Canyon
Continue your voyage by looping back around 324 kms to reach Kings Canyon, located in the Watarrka National Park.
We highly recommend booking a scenic helicopter ride to see the Watarrka National Park and Kings Canyon from a new perspective. Join a tour or venture out on a hike with fascinating views before unwinding while watching the sunset at the Kings Creek Station. Finally, there’s nothing quite like outback dining; either create your own dining experience with your outdoor table or book your spot with Under A Desert Moon.
Stop 7 – Alice Springs
The return to Alice Springs is 332 kms from Kings Canyon and marks the completion of your outback adventure.
What are your favourite destinations in the Northern Territory? Let us know on our Facebook and Instagram!