Day 1: Adelaide to Port Augusta — 306km
Travel north from Adelaide to the Clare Valley which continues to be known for its crisp and fruity Australian Riesling but the region also lays claim to especially fine Shiraz. If time allows you may liketo stop at some of the great galleries throughout the Valley. Maybe stock up on your favourite wines before heading further north to Port Augusta for your overnight stay before heading into the Outback.
Day 2: Port August to Wilpena Pound — 157km (via Quorn and Hawker)
Port Augusta is the gateway to the Outback so before travelling further north on the ‘Explorers Way’ take time to detour to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges. But before heading off to the Flinders make sure you visit the Wadlata Outback Centre in Port Augusta for all the tips on travelling in the outback. If time allows a visit to the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens is a must as is a dolphin cruise to the top of Spencer Gulf.
Wilpena Pound is an enormous natural amphitheatre, the pound offers breathtaking scenery, rich Aboriginal and European history, wildlife and above all, a great chance to unwind. Spend today exploring the area either by walking trail or on a guided 4WD tour, keeping an eye out for native animals and wildflowers (in season). Scenic flights are available (such as30 minute flight over the pound) and are another great way to truly appreciate the grandeur of this ancient land. Between April to October you can also experience the serenity of an Outback sunrise by hot air balloon with experienced balloonists.
Spend another day in this amazing part of the Outback with a drive north to Blinman and onto Parachilna, via Parachilna Gorge, to enjoy the ‘Feral Food Platter’ at the famous Prairie Hotel. Travel back south to Hawker and onto Quorn for an overnight stay before heading off to Coober Pedy the following day.
Parachilna to Quorn — 91km
Day 5: Quorn to Coober Pedy — 579km
Travel via Port Augusta onto Coober Pedy, Australia’s unique ‘underground town’ where opal was discovered in 1915 and Coober Pedy now produces 95 per cent of Australia’s opal. Bitten by the opal bug? Try your hand at noodling, there is a safe area in the town that has been set aside for you to give it a go!
Spend the day discovering what is so special about this part of the Outback. North of the town you can have a game of golf, the ‘greens’ are black and there is not a blade of grass to be seen. Take a flight over the colourful Painted Hills, or take a 4WD tour about 30 minutes north of the town to see the Breakaways Reserve. This striking landscape formed over millions of years is the perfect place to watch a stunning desert sunset.
Stay overnight in an underground room as many locals do as the ‘norm’ in Coober Pedy.
Day 7: Coober Pedy to Cadney Homestead — 150km
Cadney Homestead to Marla — 83km
Travel onto Cadney Homestead for an overnight stay or onto Marla which marks the northern tip of the Oodnadatta Track and is only 160 kilometres south of the North Territory border. Marla is also close to the turn off to the Mintabie opal fields.
Day 8: Coober Pedy to Alice Springs — 688km (7 hours 30mins not allowing for stops)
Depart Coober Pedy and travel along Stuart Highway to Alice Springs. Just over 150 kilometres north of Coober Pedy is Cadney Roadhouse, which has good facilities and essential services for visitors. Time permitting, take detour east from here to the stunning Copper Hills and Arckaringa Hills, known as the Painted Desert (allow an additional three hours for this experience). Once back on Stuart Highway, drive through Marla (also recommended for a fuel stop) and begin the last section of the drive, which takes you into the Northern Territory and Alice Springs, the heart of the red centre of Australia.
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