Another day, another chance to see the Outback’s magnificent nature and rock formations.
People standing on top of a high ridge at the King’s Canyon
Passing through the nondescript town of Katherine is simply for a snack stop, on the way to the serene Mataranka Thermal Springs for another swim. Here you can wade through small pockets of jade and emerald waters set within a dense palm forest.
Planning a Trip From Darwin to Alice Springs
Edith Falls in the Nitmiluk National Park – the first stop on the road trip through the Northern Territory.
People mostly try to do it themselves and drive through there for days on end, despite warnings not to travel through the Northern Territory Australian Outback alone and without proper navigation skills, contacts and equipment.
How far is Alice Springs From Darwin?
The sacred Uluru Sunrise.
The cafe, including its crazy exterior, is decked out in everything alien-themed and features news clippings from the abduction and sighting stories over the years.
Darwin to Alice Springs Tours
The town with the most UFO sightings in the Northern Territory.
A trip to the Northern Territory is not complete without watching the sunset over Uluru.
Starting in Darwin
Hiking in Kata Tjuta National park in the Australian Outback
Up early from the night camping in the open, we started the day spiritually watching the sunrise over Uluru. The fiery sky rose above this sacred monument and we knew this wasn’t just another sunrise, but one of the most iconic we would witness in our lifetime.
Outback Road Trip Day 1: Darwin to Edith Falls, Mataranka Thermal Springs & Daly Waters
Edith Falls in Nitmiluk National Park
The magnificent rock formations of the Devil’s Marbles – many of which are split in half like this.
Alice Springs is 1497 km south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway. It would take 15 hours to drive from Darwin to Alice Springs on a single journey. But with plenty of things to see on the way, this journey is better experienced over a few days.
Mataranka Springs Thermal Pools
People who climbed Uluru disrespected the Aboriginal wishes to keep this sacred site about connection and not conquest.
Overnight in Daly Waters
As a protected site under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, visitors will never have full access to all its secrets.
The highlight of the long day’s drive is the first overnight resting stop – visiting Daly Waters. Just over 600kms south of Darwin, this quirky, tiny town is a fascinating pit stop with a historic pub that has been open to the public since 1938, when people from the nearby airfield used to pass through, leaving an eclectic mix of memorabilia.
Outback Road Trip Day 2: Devil’s Marbles and Wycliffe Well
One of the 36 red rock formations in Kata Tjuta that spread over 20km.
Visiting Karlu Karlu – The Devil’s Marbles
If you have extra time, Darwin might surprise you – you just need to dig around a bit. Its fun wave pool, outdoor cinema, evening markets and scenic-historical walking spots are some of its immediate highlights. Sadly, its rough and rowdy backpacker scene largely offsets the rural calm.
Care is taken to respect the Aboriginal rights at every site visited. Tourism access to certain places remains a contentious issue, and it is of utmost importance to abide by the rules and adhere to the ancient culture of the rightful owners of the land.
Karlu Karlu is special – a protected site under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act.
Wycliffe Well – The UFO Capital of Australia
After an overnight stay in an Alice Springs hostel, a 6 am start marks the point of one of the most exciting parts of the trip – the journey to visit Uluru –Australia’s most famous red icon also known by its Western given name, Ayers Rock.
The Kata Tjuta is a bundle of 36 red rock formations that span over 20km. Another sacred site set within a now protected National Park, the stones are said to date back more than 500 million years.
Outback Road Trip Day 3: Visiting Uluru, the Icon
The layered orange rocks in Kings Canyon National Park in Australia.
Uluru Base Walk
Airfield memorabilia on display in Daly Waters.
Visiting the sacred site of Karlu Karlu, NT.
Don’t Climb Uluru
To break up the long journey, which could otherwise turn monotonous, we stopped at Edith Falls in the Nitmiluk National Park, to take a relaxing swim and stretch our legs.
I choose to go with a company called Mulgas Adventures, which came highly recommended by hostels and travel agencies in the city.
I felt that by flying from Darwin to Alice Springs I would miss out on the beauty of what is essentially the beauty of the ‘nothingness’ in between and nature at its most untouched.
Travelling from Darwin to Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway and crossing through the Australian Outback on a road trip was always at the top of my list when in the Northern Territory.
It’s an early start around 6 am, but it adds to the sense of adventure as you hit the road, ready to join the open highway that starts to cut through the Outback.
Outback Road Trip Day 4: Uluru Sunrise & Kata Tjuta Hike
We had travelled the Outback like adventurers while knowing we were simply visitors in a very sacred space that we will never truly know or comprehend.
Here we found a sign saying that visitors should avoid the waters between 7 am and 7 pm because of the crocs, so a far-out swim to the waterfalls was slightly marred by our in-depth talk of whether crocodiles can tell the time and stick to their curfew.
Hike in Kata Tjuta National Park
After some time spent in cities and aboriginal lands of Western Australia, I took a flight from Perth to Darwin to start the journey into the country’s dry, dusty and sacred hinterland – the mysterious, hard to traverse and famed Outback.
News clippings of alien sightings in Wycliffe Well, on show in the cafe.
A drive along the Stuart Highway towards the ‘Red Centre’ of the Outback would not be complete without a quick stop at Wycliffe Well – the UFO Capital of Australia said to have had the most sightings and visits in all of the country.
Outback Road Trip Day 5: Kings Canyon Hike
It was heartbreaking to see people climbing Uluru and that a sign had to be put up to highlight how much scrambling this sacred site offended the Aboriginal people. Uluru has been promoted as a place to climb since the 1940s, contributing to the concept of conquest, claim and achievement rather than as a site to connect with. I’m glad the practice of climbing has now been banned.
Visiting King’s Canyon National Park
Inside the historic Daly Waters Pub in the Outback, where travellers leave something behind.
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Kings Canyon to Alice Springs
Everyone’s heads turn in the bus as we approach this infamous masterpiece of Mother Nature. It’s bold, fiery and dominant. Today is the chance to hike around a huge part of it, known as a base walk, after a guided introduction tour. This is an opportunity to see it up close and understand how sacred it is to the Aboriginal people.
Many parts of Uluru are completely off-limits for photography. It radiates a scared feeling that you can’t quite put into words until you stand before it and its rugged ochre walls.
Things to Know About Visiting the Australian Outback
I found an answer – setting out on a five-day tour between the two cities, designed for those looking for time in the wilderness without the navigation struggle and including outdoor camping and getting to experience some of Australia’s best hikes.
Scenes from the Uluru Base Walk on Uluru National Park.
A stopover at Daly Waters is a rite of passage on a Darwin to Alice Springs Road Trip.
After sunrise, we got to explore the wider area by driving to Kata Tjuta and setting off for a long walk through the Valley of the Winds.
Planning to Go to Australia’s Outback – Pin It!
The views from Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory.