Adelaide to Alice Springs Drive & Stops Along the Way

The Adelaide to Alice Springs road trip is a popular drive. You might be on your way straight through Central Australia to Darwin. You could be driving to Alice Springs as part of a trip to Uluru and Kings Canyon. Whatever the reason, there are a few fun things to do between Adelaide and Alice Spring to break up this 1500km drive.

Highlights of the drive between Adelaide and Alice Springs include stops at Port Augusta and a short detour to Woomera. The opal mining town of Coober Pedy marks the half way point and a visit to Breakaways Conservation Park is a must.

In this guide we will also let you know about all the fuel, food and rest stops along the way.

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Sturt Desert Pea

Adelaide to Alice Springs Road Trip FAQ’s

How many days?

How long you need for the drive from Adelaide to Alice Springs?

It depends on the number of stops you have. If you are just making the drive to get to Alice Springs and beyond, allow 2 days with a stop around Coober Pedy. If you want to see some sights, the Adelaide to Alice Springs drive could take 5 or 6 days with stops in Port Augusta, Woomera and Coober Pedy.

Do you need a 4WD?

Do I need a 4wd to drive to Alice Springs from Adelaide?

You do not need a 4WD to drive between Adelaide and Alice Springs. The road is sealed the entire way. You would only need a 4WD if you do some off road detours along the way such as to the Breakaways in Coober Pedy. There are tours to the Breakaways if you don’t have a 4WD.

How far to Uluru?

How far is it from Alice Springs to Uluru?

Once you get to Alice Springs, it is another 470kms or 5 hours to Uluru. The turn off is at the Erldunda Roadhouse, 200kms south of Alice Springs. There is accommodation at Erldunda if you want to rest there before continuing to Uluru.

Phone signal?

Phone signal in Central Australia?

North of Port Augusta there will be long stretches of the drive between Adelaide and Alice Springs where there is no phone signal. You will get signal at all the towns and generally at the road houses and a few kilometres either side of them. So make sure you download your playlists, books and shows when you stop at the towns and roadhouses!

Fuel?

Availability – you shouldn’t worry about running out of fuel. There are roadhouses every couple of hundred kilometres. Top up as you feel comfortable. We like to have enough fuel to get us two roadhouses along the highway.

Price – At the roadhouses and Coober Pedy, fuel is going to be up to 40% more expensive than you pay in the city. Port Augusta and Alice Springs are a bit closer to ‘city’ prices.

Art Gallery of SA

Adelaide

If you are driving to Alice Springs via Adelaide, make sure you give yourself a few days to look around the City of Churches. Check out North Terrace in the city where you can walk between the South Australian Museum, Art Gallery, Botanic Gardens and Zoo.

There are some great day trips you can do from Adelaide too. Go to the Adelaide Hills for historic villages and wineries. South of Adelaide see where world class wineries meet beautiful beaches in McLaren Vale.

Or, as you leave Adelaide, spend a day wine tasting in the Barossa Valley which is only a slight detour from the main road between Adelaide and Alice Springs.

Lake Bumbunga Lochiel
Lake Bumbunga Lochiel © Olivia Reynolds

Port Wakefield

  • Adelaide to Port Wakefield 100km | 110 minutes

Port Wakefield is more of a gateway town than a tourist attraction. With more enormous roadhouses than you can count on one hand, it is the front door to the York Peninsula or northern South Australia. Port Wakefield is a popular stop if you need to top up, stretch your legs or get a snack.

Lochiels

  • Port Wakefield to Lochiel 32km | 26 minutes

This small town between Port Wakefield and Snowtown is best known for its pink lake. Bambunga Lake looks strawberry milk pink in spring when there is still a bit of water in it and the sun is shining. There is also a viewing platform where you can catch a glimpse of the the Loch – Eel monster.

Snowtown Street Art
Snowtown Water Tower
Snowtown Street Art
Snowtown Street Art
Snowtown Windmill Blade

Snowtown

  • Lochiel to Snowtown 20km | 15 Minutes

These days the A1 bypasses Snowtown so you need to take a slight detour if you want to have a look through this quiet little town. If you have time to take the turn off, you will see a nice piece of ‘silo art’ on the town water tower honouring some local town legends and few more pieces of street art. They also have a wind turbine blade from the Snowtown Wind Farm on display. It is an impressive thing to look at and there is an interesting interpretive display.

For fuel, back on the highway there is a big roadhouse one minute north of Snowtown.

Port Germein Jetty
Port Germein Jetty
Port Germein Jetty Sculptures
Port Germein Jetty Sculptures

Port Germein

  • Snowtown to Port Germein 95km | 60 minutes

A couple of notes on this leg of the road trip. First, if you are a history buff, look for the Goyder’s Monument just out of Redhill, about 30km from Snowtown.

Second, unless you know someone in Port Pirie or have time to look through their regional art gallery and museum, we would drive past this industrial Iron Triangle town.

Port Germein is an easier and more scenic spot if you want to stretch your legs. Most notably, it once boasted the longest jetty in Australia. Storm damage has shortened it, but at 1.5km long, it is still a decent walk and spectacular sight. The Pier Café is a nice spot for a cuppa too.

Port Augusta Botanic Gardens
Port Augusta Botanic Gardens
Port Augusta Shoreline Caravan Park
Port Augusta Shoreline Caravan Park
Port August Botanic Gardens
Port August Botanic Gardens

Port Augusta

  • Adelaide to Port Augusta 308km | 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Port Germein to Port Augusta 67km | 45 minutes

If you are on a mission to get from Adelaide to Alice Springs as quickly as possible you might also drive through Port Augusta after topping up on fuel and a food. But, if you have the time, there are a good things to do in Port Augusta.

The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens are just north of city and are a fascinating place to walk through. A couple of well marked walks take you through a variety of arid landscapes. There is always something flowering, there are abundant birds and everything is well labelled. There is an excellent Children’s walk and play area too.

The Wadlata Outback Centre’s Tunnel of Time is a mini museum with lots of eye catching exhibits and interactive displays. It looks at the geological, natural, Aboriginal and European history of the region. There is a small admission fee but the display is very well done.

From March to November train enthusiasts can ride on the historic Pichi Richi Railway between Port Augusta and Quorn. Aboard the Pichi Richi Explorer or the Ghan Express, you can travel part of the original Ghan line and the route between Adelaide and Alice Springs that followed the Overland Telegraph.

Ranges View Rest Area
Ranges View Rest Area
Ranges View Rest Area
Ranges View Rest Area

Ranges View Rest Area

  • Adelaide to Ranges View Rest Area 371km | 4 hours 9 minutes
  • Port Augusta to Ranges View Rest Area 63km | 40 minutes

If you have done some sightseeing on your way out of Adelaide and have self contained accommodation, Ranges View Rest Area is a popular free camping spot. Not only does it have picnic tables and shelters, lots of room and well maintained drop toilets, there are great views and lots of signage.

Read about Kootaberra Station whose land Ranges View Rest Area is on, the ecology and geology South Australia’s arid landscapes and the outback tracks that crisscross the desert. It is one of the most informative rest stops on the Adelaide to Alice Springs road trip.

Read More: Free Camping in South Australia

Pimba Roadhouse
Pimba Roadhouse

Pimba

  • Adelaide to Pimba 483km | 5 hours 23 minutes
  • Port Augusta to Pimba 175km | 1 hour 58 minutes
  • Ranges View Rest Area to Pimba 112km | 1 hour 14 minutes

Beyond Port Augusta, between Adelaide and Alice Springs you will come to series of outback roadhouses. Each has their own character and quirks. Spuds Roadhouse in Pimba is the first one you come to out of Port Augusta. As well as fuel you will find accommodation, a bar, restaurant and small general store.

Pimba can be a relatively busy spot as it is right on the corner of the intersection where you can turn off to Woomera, Roxby Downs and Andamooka.

Woomera Emus
Woomera Emus
Woomera Military History
Woomera Military History
Woomera Military History
Woomera Military History

Woomera

  • Adelaide to Woomera 489km | 5 hours 26 minutes
  • Port Augusta to Woomera 181km | 2 hours

If you get to Pimba, and you have time, it really is worth the 6km drive to the defence town of Woomera. Woomera was established in 1946 to support a joint British – Australian experimental rocket range. It has some fantastic displays of the types of things shot into the air during the 1950s and 60s. The Missile and Aircraft Parks are fascinating as are the two museums. Well worth a look if you have time, allow 2 – 3 hours for a quick look around.

Read more: What you can see in Woomera

Lake Hart
Lake Hart

Lake Hart

  • Port Augusta to Lake Hart 213km | 2 hours 16 minutes
  • Pimba to Lake Hart Rest Area 40km | 25 Minutes

Some of the drive between Adelaide and Alice Springs can feel a bit monotonous but Lake Hart is a fantastic sight. What you see at the Lake Hart salt lake will depend on the season. Both times we have been past it has had water in it. It is more usual to see it dry and you get great views from a lookout. You can also cross the train line or go through a cement tunnel to walk on the lake.

Lake Hart is a popular rest stop. There are no toilets here but the sunrise you get over the lake is spectacular. About half way between Pimba and Lake Hart is Island Lagoon Lookout on the other side of the Stuart Highway which also has great views – especially at sunset.

Glendambo
Glendambo Roadhouse

Glendambo

  • Pimba to Glendambo 66 kilometers | 1 hour 27 minutes

Glendambo is the next roadhouse on the Adelaide – Alice Springs drive. There are two service stations and a hotel-motel caravan park. For us, the best thing about Glendambo is knowing you are just two and a half hours from the halfway point – Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy Underground Church
Coober Pedy Underground Church
Coober Pedy Mining History
Coober Pedy Opal Mining

Coober Pedy

  • Adelaide to Coober Pedy 848 km | 9 hours 5 minutes
  • Port Augusta to Coober Pedy 540km | 5 hours 40 minutes
  • Glendambo to Coober Pedy 254km | 2 hours 38 minutes
  • Coober Pedy to Alice Springs 687km | 6 hours 54 minutes

The opal mining town of Coober Pedy is a fascinating place and you have lots of opportunities to immerse yourself in its mining culture. Explore the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum Old Timers Mine and Museum. Get a taste of mining at Tom’s Working Opal Mine, visit an underground home and see the amazing underground Serbian Church.

There are lots of caravan parks in Coober Pedy but you might want to book in the busy period from April to October.

Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park
Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park © South Australian Tourism Commission

The Breakaways

  • Coober Pedy to the Breakaways 31km | 25 minutes

A sunrise or sunset visit to Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park is one of the best things to do in Coober Pedy. It is an incredible landscape, like the whole of Coober Pedy, the rocks and colour look like something from another planet. You can drive yourself to the Breakaways – you will want a 4WD. Some caravan parks also offer tours which is an easy option.

Cadney Homestead
Cadney Homestead & Rest Area

Cadney Homestead

  • Coober Pedy to Cadney Homestead 153km | 1 hour 33 minutes

Cadney Homestead is another busy outback intersection. From here you can trek east to the Painted Desert and Oodnadatta. For your Alice Springs road trip, there is fuel, food and powered and unpowered campsites.

Marla Roadhouse
Marla Roadhouse

Marla

  • Coober Pedy to Marla 235km | 2 hours 26 minutes
  • Cadney Homestead to Marla 81km | 50 minutes

There always seems to be a good vibe at the Marla Roadhouse. Maybe its the excitement of being near the border. There is camping, caravan and motel accommodation, good meals, fuel and the flowering bougainvilleas look amazing!

South Australia - Northern Territory Border
South Australia – Northern Territory Border

South Australian – Northern Territory Border

  • Coober Pedy to the SA – NT Border 460km | 4 hour 40 minutes

You have made it to the Northern Territory. There is a big sign at the border welcoming you and plenty of travellers pull over here to mark the occasion. There is heaps of parking for the many people who stop for a picture at the sign. We couldn’t help pulling over too and after taking lots of pictures for other travellers got one for ourselves! There is no fuel here, you need to drive through to Kulgera for the next roadhouse.

Kulgera Hotel
Kulgera Hotel
Kulgera Hotel
Kulgera Hotel

Kulgera Hotel

  • Coober Pedy to Kulgera 414km | 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Marla to Kulgera 180km | 1 hour 52 minutes

No sooner do you enter the Northern Territory, you get a taste of why this part of Australia has a reputation for the quirky. The Kulgera Pub and Roadhouse is the self described first and last pub in the Northern Territory and the most central pub in Australia. You get fuel, camping, accommodation, gas refills and a general store here. And you also get a pub with a ‘Front Bra’. Reviews for the food and accommodation are mixed. We didn’t experience either here so can’t comment, Kulgera was quick fuel stop for us.

Erlunda Roadhouse
Erldunda Roadhouse
Erldunda Emu
Erldunda Emu
Wedge-Tailed Eagle
Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Erldunda Roadhouse

  • Coober Pedy to Erldunda Roadhouse 487km | 4 hours 55 minutes
  • Kulgera Roadhouse to Erldunda Roadhouse 50km | 76 minutes

This is one of busiest intersections on the Sturt Highway. From here you turn onto the Lasseter Highway to get to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. To cater for the traffic you get an excellent roadhouse complete with barista, well stocked general store, and lots of food options. You can even feed some emus.

Behind the roadhouse is the Erldunda Desert Oaks Resort which has a big campground, drive through sites and motel rooms to suit single, couples and family travellers. There is also a swimming pool, laundry, restaurant and bar. It is a great spot to begin your end your travels through Central Australia.

Turn off here to visit Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon

Cannonball Memorial
Cannonball Memorial

Cannonball Run Memorial

You might notice this memorial 5 or 6 km before the Stuarts Well Roadhouse. It commemorates the death of 4 people killed in the Cannonball Run car race held between Alice Springs and Darwin in 1994.

Stuarts Well Roadhouse
Stuarts Well Roadhouse

Stuarts Well

  • Erldunda to Stuarts Well 108km | 65 minutes
  • Stuarts Well to Alice Springs 92km | 62 minutes

Stuarts Well is the last Roadhouse before you pull into Alice Springs. There are nice dining and bar facilities here along with cabin and caravan park accommodation. Stuarts Well is also a convenient access point if you want to see the impressive Rainbow Valley – 4WD only, it gets a bit sandy.

Welcome to Alice Springs Sign
Welcome to Alice Springs
 Anzac Lookout
Anzac Lookout
Olive Pink Wallaby
Olive Pink Wallaby

Alice Springs

Whether you are driving through to Darwin or exploring the Red Centre, it is worth spending a few days in Alice Springs. There is a huge amount to do here. Olive Pink Botanic Gardens and Alice Springs Desert Park are both worth a look. There are a bunch of museums to look through – the Road Transport Hall of Fame, Aviation Museum and the Alice Springs Telegraph Station are all excellent. And Alice Springs is a great base if you want to explore the West and East MacDonnell Ranges.

  • Ooraminna Station – One of our favourtie places to stay near Alice Springs. Choose from themed cottages, glamping or camping. 33km from Alice Springs
  • Squeakywindmill Boutique Tent B & B – Luxury tent with a terrace, mountain views, private bathroom & coffee machine. Continental breakfast. 12km from Alice Springs
  • Discovery Parks Alice Springs – Surrounded by the MacDonnell Ranges with 2 pools, recreation room and adventure playground

Read more about Alice Springs’ attractions in our Alice Springs Activity Guide

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Adelaide to Alice Springs Drive
Adelaide to Alice Springs Drive
Adelaide to Alice Springs Drive
Adelaide to Alice Springs Drive
Things to do in Australia

Join our mailing list and receive our Free Top 500 things to do in Australia. If you love the Australian Outdoors download this list and keep it handy when you are planning a weekend away or a road trip around Australia.

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5 thoughts on “Adelaide to Alice Springs Drive & Stops Along the Way”

  1. Lock everything up if you stop at Tennant Creek. I would only stop for fuel then get the hell out of there.

    Reply
  2. Just got back from our trip from geelong to Darwin. It was wonderful but 6 weeks was not long enough to see everything
    The NT is so special and incredible

    Reply
    • What a great road trip! The Top End is a world of it’s own. We loved our stay too and are writing a number of new posts on Darwin – so keep an eye out soon.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for all the info on this website, it came in handy for our trip from Melbourne, via Adelaide to Darwin. There are so many incredible places to visit in NT, I’ve often heard about how good it is, but it is just so much more magnificent than I ever expected. We stayed in our tent in caravan parks (no free camping as our car fridge needs power), with the occasional room (e.g. Glen Helen Gorge where the camping was closed due to water supply issues), and thoroughly enjoyed it all. We would do it all again in a heartbeat. Highlights for us include: The Breakaways (thanks for the tip to visit there), Glen Helen Gorge, Simpson’s Gap, Ormiston Gorge and the Pound walk (wading through very cold waist deep water was fantastic), King’s Canyon and the Rim Walk, Uluru (especially the free “Marla Cultural Walk”), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas – we visited at 6am and saw the sunrise between two of the large rocks – very special), Bitter Springs, kayaking at Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and the Nitmiluk dinner cruise. It will be very difficult to top that trip. But we will keep trying.

    Reply
    • Sounds like you had an amazing trip Michael. It really is worth taking your time to appreciate all the stops along the way. So many highlights – we would also do it again too!

      Reply

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