Adelaide to Alice Springs
Here at Compare Campervan Hire, we’re just tickled pink by customer feedback – particularly when it’s positive! Casey and Jake from Liverpool recently hired a 4WD Camper from our team. Their epic journey starts in Adelaide, then heads north over the Flinders Ranges and along the Oodnadatta Track towards Coober Pedy.
It takes in Uluru and the incredible West MacDonnell Ranges before concluding in Alice Springs. If you’re looking for roadtrip ideas in Australia – this one’s a doozy…
On day 1 we had our 4WD Hire Campervan dropped off to our hotel. The staff member once again ran through how the vehicle worked. My wife and I were especially impressed by the shower set up which will be very useful considering we plan to take the vehicle to vast remote places where showers wouldn’t normally be an option. The kids however seemed more impressed by the rooftop tents. I was surprised that the tents only took 30 seconds to slide out and be ready for use. My wife liked the roof tent option as opposed to ground tents because she was uneasy about snakes and spiders and all those other deadly Australian critters that the discovery channel has educated us on.
Our first stop was the Barossa Valley wineries. It was only just over an hour out of Adelaide. We decided to spend the night there to overindulge in the locals produce. We couldn’t pick our favourite winery. We enjoyed different ones for different reasons. But it was great to stock up on great wines for our 3 week trip up the centre of Australia.
Our next stop was set to be the Flinders Ranges. We had been recommended a camp ground at Wilpena Pound. On the way we stopped off at Yourambulla Caves where we saw some incredible ancient Aboriginal rock art. From there we went to the Wilpena Pound campground. The Hire 4WD was really useful for the terrain around the campground. We got to really put the vehicle to the test and we had no problems get around at all. The surroundings were absolutely stunning! It has a raw, harsh ruggedness about the place. And Wilpena Pound was just incredible. It looked like a giant comet had made a massive crater with this beautiful flat valley in the centre. We sat and watched the sun set off in the distance which made for some great pictures.
The next morning we woke to some kangaroos hanging around our vehicle. It was surreal to so quickly feel welcomed as a part of the natural order of things.
On our way north we stopped off at Brachina Gorge for a swim and a bit of a walk. After Brachina Gorge we headed on our way up to the Gammon Ranges. It was starting to get very remote in these areas! We had a look around Illinawortina pound and stopped for the night in Arkaroola Village. There are two 14-inch telescopes that we used in the town. And being that the area is virtually free of pollution and has clear skies year round the view was outstanding! We could constantly see shooting stars and satellites with the naked eye, and looking through the telescope felt like I was in space.
The next day we headed off to start our journey on the Oodnadatta 4WD track. Our first stop on the track was a small town called Williams Creek. It was barely a town being that the only business operating here was a jointly owned petrol station/pub. The pub was incredible. Everyone who stopped by here left things like foreign money, tickets, clothing items and many other items pinned all over the walls. On our way to Williams Creek town we saw 3 wild camels right by the 4WD track. Amazing how big they are! We also saw a couple of emu’s on the run.
Once we arrived at Williams Creek Town, we decided to not go any further north and that we would head west to Coober Pedy. By doing this we missed out on seeing the town of Oodnadatta, which is the hottest and driest town in Australia. And that says something considering Australia is one of the hottest and driest continents on the planet. But we felt Coober Pedy was a better option because we wanted to see all the underground house and business which Coober Pedy was famous for. Luckily for us, the 4WD Campervan had 2 spare tyres. We had a puncture an hour out of Williams creek, and we still had another 6 hours of dirt road before we would find Coober Pedy. We didn’t end up needing the second spare, but it was nice to know we had in there in case of another flat.
Coober Pedy didn’t disappoint. The underground town was very unique. We also stayed in a great campground that had a nice pool and play equipment for the kids to play with. We didn’t waste too much time the next day and headed north on our way to the red centre.
The drive was about 8 hours which included a stop for lunch. It wasn’t the most exciting of drives, but it was on sealed roads most of the way which made it relatively stress-free. We made it to the Yulara campground by about 4pm. It was great timing because we had enough time to walk around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and be back in the car park in time for those famous sunset images of the rock. It was incredible how red the rock became the lower the sun got. After the sun had set, we headed back to the Yulara campgrounds for the night to relax before our big day.
We got up early as we have lots to see and do. We started our day walking through The Olga’s (Kata Tjuta). It was incredible windy, but it kept the flies to a manageable lever. After leaving The Olga’s we took off to Kings Canyon.
Kings Canyon to this day is one of my favourite places! We walked for 6 hours at the top and bottom of incredible gorges. The rock faces we astounding. We made our way into the canyon where at the bottom there was a beautiful green forest with a river running through it. At the end of the track we were greeted by a lovely swimming hole. I will never lose the image of floating on my back looking at the bright green forest and the fiery red rock cliffs and the almost fluorescent blue sky. The colour contrast was incredible to experience. After we made it back to the campgrounds, we made a fire and listened to Aboriginal stories about the area told by a local indigenous man.
The next day we headed off on a 4WD track called the Mereenie Loop. I was fortunate to have a friend that was living in Alice Springs and he gave me a list of the must see spots on the Mereenie Loop which drove along the West MacDonnell Ranges. Our first point of call was the Ormiston Gorge. It was a lovely place to stop and we decided to go for a dip to cool off. Next point of interest was the Ochre Pits which was ruggedly handsome. We managed to give the 4WD Campervan a good work out here. Next was Serpentine Gorge where we stopped for a bit of a feed. Then it was on too Ellery Creek Big Hole where it was a wonderful place for another swim.
We then made our way to Stanley Chasm which was wonderful to walk through and then finally to Simpsons Gap where we stopped and took a couple of photos in the sunset. Once again, it is stunning as the rocks turn bright red in the setting sun. We then made our way into Alice Springs where we stayed at a campground close to the centre of town. We were parked on either side was a motorhome. Both were families, one from the Netherlands and the other from Germany. They were all very impressed with the 4WD Campervan. And even more so when they saw the places we had been that their vehicle wouldn’t allow them to go. We felt like sales people for a 4WD Hire company! We showed so many people how the vehicle worked.
The next day we headed off to the West MacDonnell Ranges where our trusty local friend from Alice Springs came along with his family in their 4WD and showed us some incredible places. We spent 3 days and 2 nights in the area. The first day we visited Emily Gap, Jessie Gap, Corroboree Rock and camped at Trephina Gorge which had stunning scenery. The next day we started off at N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park where we saw rock carvings that were over 5000 years old! Then we headed off to Arltunga Historical Reserve which was the first ever town in central Australia where they mined for gold. Then we made our way to Ruby Gap where we spent the second night. The drive to Ruby Gap tested both my 4WD-ing skills and the 4WD vehicle. We made it there without a problem and the best part was that because you need a properly equipped 4WD, it was like we had the place to ourselves for the night. The remoteness made it an especially magical part of our trip and the landscape became even more majestic.
The next day we made our way back to Alice along the Arltunga Tourist Drive which brought us back to Alice Springs via a different and even more beautiful route.
We then called the 4WD hire company where the staff member came around to our friends house and picked up the vehicle to save us having to drop it off to them. The vehicle really did hold up to the harsh conditions. At no point did any of us feel we couldn’t trust the vehicle. We are so glad we decided on this vehicle and not a 2 wheel drive campervan or motorhome. We really do feel we got to experience the real Australia. For us it was a trip of a lifetime, and we really feel we weren’t travelling Australia, but more like we were a part of it.
A special thanks to Compare Campervan Hire. We will be telling anyone we know that plans a trip to Australia about our fantastic trip.