Explorers Way - 5 day self drive

Explorers Way - 5 day self drive

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One of the great Australian driving routes, the Explorers Way connects Darwin to Adelaide by passing some of Australia’s favourite natural icons: Alice Springs, the West and East MacDonnell Ranges (Tjoritja), Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, Nitmiluk National Park and the waterfalls of Litchfield National Park through to Darwin.

Follow the Stuart Highway, blazed in the 1860s forging the Overland Telegraph line, and drive through towns brimming with culture and activities. The highway is named after John McDouall Stuart, the first explorer to cross Australia from south to north and return. Make sure you stop in at some of the historic outback pubs along the way.

Day 1: Alice Springs

Spend the day enjoying the sights of Alice Springs – take the ‘Town like Alice’ tour and visit the many attractions in the town itself: the Alice Springs School of the Air, Alice Springs Reptile Centre and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Day 2: Alice Springs to Tennant Creek (510km)

Depart Alice Springs for the six-hour drive to Tennant Creek, where the last gold rush of Australia took place in the 1930s. Stop at Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles), a collection of massive granite boulders.

Day 3: Tennant Creek to Daly Waters (394km)

Continue north on the Stuart Highway for around four hours to Daly Waters. Soak up outback hospitality at the famous Daly Waters Historic Pub and stay overnight in the campground or in one of the hotel’s various room types.

Day 4: Daly Waters to Katherine (270km)

Take the three-hour journey from Daly Waters to Katherine. Plan a stop at Mataranka to soak in its famous thermal pool, surrounded by tropical foliage.

Day 5: Katherine to Darwin (316km)

Take a boat tour through Nitmiluk Gorge or a scenic flight to see waterfalls and dramatic landscapes. Continue your journey to Darwin, stopping in at Litchfield National Park to swim at one of the many waterfalls. In Darwin, the Territory’s tropical capital city, experience the famous food culture at the various markets and buzzing restaurants and bars.

Top tips

  • Add on the Red Centre Way itinerary out of Alice Springs to visit world heritage listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon).
  • Visit the waterfall at Southern Rockhole in Nitmiluk National Park to see it flowing during the tropical summer.
  • Swim at the Recreation Lagoon at Darwin’s vibrant Waterfront Precinct, a man-made beach, or body surf at the nearby Wave Lagoon.
Page last updated on 01 July 2021