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Planning to drive from Melbourne to Uluru

by Jessica
(Melbourne)

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon Arkaroola village

Dear Rita,

my husband and I are planning to go on a holiday driving from Melbourne to Uluru with our camping stuff in 13 days.

I know it is gonna be a long long trip, but since we've decided and I need to make a fully prepared plan before we set off. I did lots of readings on your site and other sites as well as use Google map helps me work out how to get there and what to see.

I've made a Itinerary, I'd love you to give me some advice after reading, our destination is Ayers Rock area and kings canyon, so other than that,we'd love to travel other attractions if we have spare time.

The car we driving is Toyota sedan, the date we set off, let's say on Sunday 23th Oct to 4th Nov.
1. leaving in Melbourne about 6am

2. arrive in Adelaide or even further somewhere(please suggest)before sunset and stay over night in a motel or caravan park.

3. starts off early driving to Coober Pedy, and stay over night at coober pedy(suggest?should we explore coober pedy in another day? or explore it on our way back?)

4. arrive in Uluru on 25th tue. at 3pm-4pm from coober pedy(early start),have a rest at resort

5. start to explore Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Kings Canyon (from 25th to 30th in 5 days? is it enough?)
we were thinking to stay in Voyages Ayers Rock Resort for 6 nights and only take one day trip to kings canyon and return to the ayers rock resort on the same day (starts very early), is it possible? The reason for me is setting up a tent takes time. :P

6. leaving on 31st from uluru back to coober peedy............... back home in Melbourne on 4th Nov.

The rest of the days are driving back, any suggested places if the time are allowed?
We do want to go to Lake Eyre via the Oodnadatta Track, but do we need a 4WD to get there? Do they provide 4wd tour service anywhere near there and do we need to stay one night there too?

Please feel free for any advice, I've love to hear from you very much.

Thanks.

Rita's Reply


Hi Jessica,

You have been really good planning your trip. You have 3 long days of driving, but then you can relax when you get there.

Now here are a few suggestions.

1.) I think it is good to get north of Adelaide for the first night, that would give you a good start for the long drive to Coober Pedy.
There is certainly a motel north of Adelaide along the freeway (Port Wakefield Road).
The Highway 1 Caravan & Tourist Park is on Port Wakefield Rd, Bolivar, about 18km north of the CBD.

2.) In my opinion it is worth to stay a day in Coober Pedy to explore this unique town. When you do it on the way to Uluru, you can take the Oodnadatta Track on the way back.

3.) So you would arrive at Ayers Rock resort on the 26th. I think three nights / 2 days are good here. You have a full day to explore Uluru and one day for the Olgas. You can even join a a guided Aboriginal tour if you want.

4.) I would stay a night at Kings Canyon or Kings Creek Station. Doing Kings Canyon from the Ayers Rock Resort means you have to drive 600km on that day, so there won't be much time for walking around.

5.) So on the 30th you would leave Kings Canyon for say, Marla on the Stuart Highway.
Next day (31th) you could go to Cadney Park and via the Painted Desert to Oodnadatta.

6.) Next day (1st) you drive along the Oodnadatta Track to Marree.
No, I don't think there are tours from Marree, or William Creek to Lake Eyre, but you could take a short flight.

7.) From Marree you drive down through the Flinders Ranges, perhaps stay the night at Rawnsley Park.

Then you have still 2 days to drive to Melbourne (perhaps stay in Mildura which is very nice).

This sounds like an exiting trip, and you are going to see great places in the Australian Outback.

Of course, you need to check the weather and road conditions ahead before you leave Marla and go on the Oodnadatta Track and the Painted Desert. The route can be done in a normal car if its dry.
Just ask at the roadhouses and fellow travellers what the road conditions are like.

Have a great trip, and let us know how it was.

Rita




Jessica's report after her trip


we made it driving our little sedan

Hi, Rita, we had a fantastic trip last year driving from Melbourne to Uluru and driving back through not only Oodnadata Track to Marree in our little toyota yaris sedan and we also went to Arkaroola which is located in northern Flinders Ranges. they are all dirt roads.even though Arkaroola was not in our part of plan.

before we were going through oodnadata track, we asked a few locals on the way and in coober pedy. people are all very kind and quite supportive and encourage us to go ahead. and the weather was perfect, the road was open. and we checked our tires and all the parts regularly at petrol station. so we went ahead and made it. it is bumpy and slow in sedan, drove between 20km-60km, so we camped overnight at coward springs, it was a lovely night, had hotspring in the pool watching stars ;). next day we started early and drove to lake eyre south and ended our day at Arkaroola about 4pm. after that, we camped at wilpena pond for 2 days.and drove back along south australia coast line a few days, anyway we had a great trip , and went to so many places.;), i think it is a road trip supposed to be. having fun and adventure.

we don't have many road trip experience, so we did lots of homework, searching where to go what to see and booked accommodations(most of camping sites). food, water. lots of preparations before we go. also a good condition car is very essential, check the engin, tires , spare tire and tools and even on your trip whenever you are in the petrol station. after the trip, we send our car to do a big service. the car condition is still good ;).

anyway. that's all i can share with you and my trip experience. i'd like to hear about other people's experience too and look forward to more road trips!!

Comments for Planning to drive from Melbourne to Uluru

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Feb 06, 2017
To Dave
by: Rita

Hi Dave,
I am glad you like my little site :).

My only negative thoughts about the tent are that

a) it might be too cold at night. Winter nights can get really frosty. However, with warm bedding and stuff, (which you certainly have), I don't see a problem.

b) are you comfortable with putting up the tent every day on such a long trip?

On the other hand, hiring a camper or trailer would cost you some money, which you can spent in a cabin, if the weather is really unpleasant, or you don't want to handle the tent on some days.

Just in case you haven't seen it yet, here is an overview of the facilities along the Stuart Highway bet ween Port Augusta and Alice Springs.

And even if you only go a little off-road, don't forget to ask ask for road conditions and weather forecasts before you go.

Rita

Feb 06, 2017
To Effy
by: Rita

Effy, to be honest, I would even consider more stops. I hate to sit so long in a car, let alone on a motorbike.

Warrnambool - Adelaide more than 600 km, depending on the route
Port Augusta - Coober Pedy - 542 km
Coober Pedy - Yulara - 733 km

If you plan (and you should do) a few stops each day, these will be really long driving days, especially the last leg of the tour.

Rita

Feb 05, 2017
Tent v camper
by: Dave

Rita

Love your site and the comments/discussion from fellow travellers.

We are planning to come up from Melbourne around July this year and just starting to work through our itinerary now.

We have a 2015 Kia Sorento and would normally carry our tent and camping gear in a 6x4 builder's trailer (canopy on top) and mostly stay in areas where there are facilities available.

How do you think we would go off-road (nothing extreme) towing a trailer and are there any issues setting up a large tent as opposed to rolling out a swag?

Also it looks as though a lot of people go for vans or camper trailers rather than the tent option. What's your thoughts on hiring a van/camper (we weren't intending on going too off-road anyway) versus sleeping in a tent?

PS there's two of us plus two kids 7 & 10.

Cheers
Dave

Feb 04, 2017
Riding on a motorbike from Melb to Uluru
by: Effy

Hi Rita.
My Hubble and I will be doing the trip in July. I'm thinking, Warnambool, Adelaide ( 2 nights) PorT Augusta ( overnight) Cooper pedy 2 nights Ulur 3 Kings Canyon 1 day and then ride back home. Is this realistic and I have reservations about the motorbike, it's a fairly comfortable one. I certainly will not be able to sit for a straight 9 hours to places. Hence, the amount of stops.

Jan 14, 2017
hired camper
by: Rita

Hi Bel,

I know it gets boring driving the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta to Alice, and the same way back. The only alternative route would be from Cadney homestead via the Painted Desert to Coober Pedy or to the Oodnadatta Track.
However, these tracks are not recommended for caravans. Plus the rental company would certainly not allow to go on unsealed roads anyway.

So it looks like it will be the same route up and down for you, at least from Port Augusta.
Of course, you have several routes to go to Melbourne from here.

Have fun,
Rita

Nov 07, 2016
Similar trip
by: Bel

Hi Rita, what a wealth of knowledge your site is!! Next year I am planning a 14 day driving trip in a hired camper van from Melbourne to Uluru (I will have my two sister in laws plus my two children in tow, so three drivers which will be great!). I have previously been the route of Port Augusta to Coober Pedy and then on to Alice, but this time round would like to see if we could return in another way, hence doubling what we can see. Do you have any suggestions?

Aug 30, 2016
Melbourne to Port Augusta
by: Rita

Hi Hollye,

From Melbourne to Port Augusta you can choose several routes, the highways through the inland are slightly shorter than along the Great Ocean Road and the coast.
Once you arrive in Port Augusta you have only the Stuart Highway.
When you read all the comments and tips here in this thread, you'll find a lot of tips and ideas to plan your trip.
Make several breaks throughout the day to give the kids a chance to move. This way it is easier for them to deal with a 5 to 6 hiurs driving day.

Have fun,
Rita

Aug 26, 2016
12 days caravan with 2 and 4 year old leaving SEPT 2!!!
by: Hollye

Dear Rita,

My hubby and I are planning on driving from Melbourne to Uluru for a 12 to 14 day road trip with two young toddlers! We sort of booked this trip hastily out of a lot of insanity and excitement without much reflection on the actual road time required!!!

We are wondering if you can advise a good route? Our girls are fairly active but pretty well behaved so we think we could get about 5 hours of driving in a day but we'd really love to be able to see some interesting things on our way...like Coober Pedy
Any advice would be welcomed!
Thanks so much
Hollye

Aug 17, 2016
December
by: Rita

Hi Claudia,

well, it is summer in December, and it sure will be warm or hot. But of course I can't say how hot it will be. You know, the weather is not always predictable.
So I can only recommend to take it easy. Don't plan long strenuous walks in the middle of the day. Always drink lots of water.

Enjoy your trip, even it is hot.

Rita

Aug 15, 2016
looking for good advice in my adventure
by: Claudia

Hi Rita

I am planning to go Ululuru from Melbourne in December, I read a good comments and experiences about this trip. can you tell me if December is a good time to go there. I am scare about the temperature for driving. I'm planning to go in Hyundai Tucson, I think is a good car for long drive.
Planning departing day is December 17 and back in Melbourne 1st January.

will appreciate you recommendations and advises.

Jul 29, 2016
May and June are fine
by: Rita

Hello John,

May to September is the best season to travel to Central Australia in my opinion.
If you plan camping, the nights in June and July might be a little too cold, but you can take stuff to keep you warm ;).
You can check the average climate stats for Alice Springs here.

Jul 15, 2016
when is the best season for this trip?
by: John

Hi Rita,

My friends are planning to drive from Melborne to Uluru in next May or June.

We have four cars, two are 4x4 (4 wheels drive), two are 2x4(2 wheels drive), we would like to avoid the hot wearther whilst we don't want to be caught in the raining season. I would like to ask you the following question:

when is the best season for this trip?

Any information and help would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Regards,

John

Apr 30, 2016
Doable
by: Rita

Hi Les,

It is doable in 17 days, depending on how long you want to stay in Adelaide and other stops along the way. If exploring Melbourne is within the 17 days, one or two days more would be even better.

Of course it also depends on how many kilometres you want to drive each day.

On the map below is a suggested route, and you can see that the tour is roughly 2600km.


Apr 30, 2016
If we plan to drive one way from Melbourne to Uluru
by: Les Buss

Hello,
If we plan to drive from Melbourne to Uluru. If we would like to see Melbourne, the great océan road, Adélaïde and all you said to Uluru... Can you tell us if 17 days are enought.
We plan to hire a camping van in Melbourne and fly at the end feom Alice sprint to Perth.
Is it OK?
Can you suggest us a planning?
Thank you for your comments

Mar 07, 2016
Stuart Highway Stops
by: Rita

Hi Louey,

Apart from the stops in the towns you mentioned, there are just roadhouses along the highway, no real towns. Of course it is also worth to stop in one of these places to get a feeling of the loneliness out there.

Check out my Stuart Hwy page for all stops between Port Augusta and Alice Springs, and detours from these places.

Rita

Mar 03, 2016
Bendigo to Alice Springs
by: Louey

Hi Rita,
We have planned our trip from Bendigo to Alice Springs for late June, early July this year. We plan to stop overnight at Adelaide, Port Augusta and CooberPedy. Followed by 3 nights at Ayers Rock and 1 night at Kings Canyon, then on to Alice Springs for 5 nights before we start our journey home. Would you suggest stopping at the same places (CooberPedy, Port Augusta and Adelaide) on the way home? Or is there different places on the way home that we should check out? I would love to hear from you!
Thank you, Louey :)

Dec 13, 2015
2 routes in NSW
by: Rita

Hi Louise,

I am glad you find the site helpful.
There are two main routes I'd recommend from Sydney to Port Augusta...

1) A 20 - Sturt Hwy via Wagga Wagga and Mildura
2) A 32 - Mitchell & Barrier Hwy via Dubbo and Broken Hill.
The distance is much the same, so you can take one route at the beginning, and the other one when you return.

From Port Augusta it is the A 87 - Stuart Hwy north to Alice.
Check out my detailed description of the Stuart Highway for ideas of what to see along the way.

Rita

Dec 08, 2015
syd to ulura/alice
by: Anonymous

Hi Rita

I have stumbled across your blog and it is a wealth of information, thankyou!

We are looking at towing over camper with 3kids under 8 from syd to Alice.. We have about a month to do it in. It will be the furthers and longest we have been in our van... Could u suggest a route? Looking at mid April to depart syd.


Thanks so much for ur help.

Louise

Oct 20, 2015
Great Trip
by: Rita

Hi San,

Thank you so much for your feedback. I am glad you and your family enjoyed the trip.

Rita

Oct 20, 2015
Home safe
by: San

Hi Rita,
Thanks for your advice we went Melb- BrokenHill for 2 nights, loved it.
Pt Augusta next which was very pretty. Then Coober Pedy which was interesting and strange, the most road kill between those two and massive slow eagles feasting on that, scarey.

Then straight to Uluru, we got a cheap family dorm which was great, stayed at Uluru 4 nights it was absolutely spectacular also went to Kata Tuta and the kids and hubby loved it, fantastic family time played 500 at night.

We had magnificent sunsets and sunrise, the moon was full so it rose as the sunset, magic. Then Alice Springs for 5 nights the dessert park there is excellent, and the gorges gorgeous.
We went to Kings Canyon for 3 nights which was way too long one day would have been plenty. Then Coober Pedy onto a cute station called Nutbush retreat near Pt Augusta then the Flinders ranges for 2 nights, not long enough!

Then Kangaroo Island for 5 nights Victor Harbour for our last night then Melb

Sep 05, 2015
Avoid Summer
by: Rita

April to October is the best time to travel into the red centre.
However, the nights can get pretty cold during the winter months.
So if you plan to camp, autumn and spring is the best time.

Rita

Sep 05, 2015
Driving from melbourne
by: Anonymous

I'm planning driving to Uluru in 2016, what is best month to drive,
Thank you r

Sep 04, 2015
Melb to Uluru
by: San

Thanks have replied on FB

Sep 04, 2015
Tips for your trip
by: Rita

Hi San,

You're planning a great trip, here are a few answers and suggestions.

1. Places near Port Augusta... Melrose & Wilmington southeast are lovely country towns, Quorn to the east is also nice. But there is also a lot of choice of motels & cabins at caravan parks in Port Augusta.

2. Accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort is expensive! Curtain Springs is a good choice, they have reasonably priced family rooms that could accommodate your family.
But it adds about 400km to your driving when you go 1 day to explore Uluru, and to the Olgas at the second day.

3. Three nights at Alice Springs to explore the town itself one day, and explore the West MacDonnell Ranges the other day. The gorges are simply stunning. The Namatjira Drive to Glen Helen is fully sealed. You could also do a round trip and return along the Larapinta Drive to Alice. However, there are unsealed sections, and the drive into Hermannsburg was extremely rough when we did it many years ago.

4. I wouldn't recommend towing along the Oodnadatta Track, especially if you don't have much experience. You could certainly do the Oodnadatta Track with your car if the weather is dry, but there is the possibility that stones damage the car paint somewhat. And don't go out to Lake Eyre without a 4WD! The access routes are strictly 4WD and can be very rough.

5. As for booking accommodation, to be flexible, I wouldn't book everything ahead. I would do it a few days ahead while you are on the road. Book Curtain Springs as soon as you know when you are there, because it might be busy there and they have limited capacities.

Sep 01, 2015
Melb to uluru
by: San

Dear Rita, what itinerary would you suggest as a loop from Melb to Uluru from 21 st sept to 18 th October in a Nissan dualis which is diesel but not 4wd thanks San

Sep 01, 2015
Melbourne to Uluru
by: San

Hi Rita, we are planning on driving from Melbourne to Uluru from 21 st sept till 18th Oct in a Nissan dualis which is diesel but not 4wd I am thinking broken hill on the way up and lake eyre on the way back. Can you please suggest an itinerary? I have the opportunity to borrow a camper trailer that sleeps 2 above 2 below, but I am debating how much cheaper it would be than staying in motels verses the hassle of putting it up for one night several times on our way up and back especially as we have never used it before. Also if we do the onadatta track it could get damaged and it is not ours. Also our car is new and I am not sure we would want to tow on the track. I feel like I want to go with the flow and not book too much accomodation if we like broken hill or for example copper pedy that we can stay a couple of nights, but I am not sure about availability of accomodation for 2 adults and 2 teenagers if we wing it? I thought we would book Uluru accom though any suggestions are most welcome I am in the very beginning of planning. Thank you San

Nov 09, 2014
Big drive
by: Rita

Hi Isaac,

There is nothing I could suggest to make your plan better. I ti s a long drive, but it has to bed one, eh?
Enjoy your time at Uluru.

Rita

Oct 29, 2014
going to Uluru from Melbourne
by: Isaac

Hi Rita,

we are planning to do the trip from 12 to 23 of January, from Melbourne to Ayers Rock NT. As far as I have researched it is going to take us 3 day driving up there and 3 days driving back.

we will be renting a SUV Nissan X-Trai, around $920 for 12 days, unlimited kilometers and road assistance(still looking for a better option). It seems like petrol for 2,300 kilometers may cost around $450 each way($900 trip.

The first day (12/01/15) we will be traveling 9 hours to Adelaide (Highway 1 Caravan & Tourist Park, 925-963 Port Wakefield Rd, Bolivar SA 5110)spend the night.

Second day (12/01/15), traveling 9 hours to Coober Pedy, spend two nights there.

four day (14/01/15), traveling 9 hours to Uluru.

Uluru, 6 days (unplanned).

Way back on 20/01/15. Uluru, Coober Pedy, Adelaide, Melbourne.

4,600 kilometers at least!

can you recommend us, how can we do it better ?

Jun 11, 2013
Sorry Matt
by: Rita

I am sorry I missed your message Matt. Was travelling at that time in April without much internet connection.

I hope you had a nice trip and all went well.

Rita

Apr 11, 2013
Bendigo to alice and return in 17 days
by: Matt

Hi there
i would like some advise on which way to travel to and from Alice to Bendigo. i am leaving on 28th April 2013 and need to be back by 14th may.
I am travelling in a VW T5 campervan with 4 motion (light 4wd). i am thinking of travelling no more than 4-6 hours a day and i am thinking of the following, Bendigo to mildura (one night) then port agusta (one night) then coober pedy and spend two days there. then to erldunda (stay overnight and then to Uluru(or should i go straight from coober pedy to Ulur?)
2 nights in uluru. then to Kings canyon (2 nights)then Alice Springs (2 nights)so about 11 night so far. that gives me 5 days to get back to Bendigo. is it worth going some other way back or just the same way? thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.

Jul 18, 2012
Not easy to make suggestions
by: Rita

Hi Mike,

you are right, it is not easy to make suggestions on a website.

On the one hand, I don't want to discourage people, because travelling with a 2WD can be done in perfect conditions and with a responsible driver. Not on all tracks, of course!
See, Jessica and her family had a great trip, and they did research and seemed to be well-prepared.

On the other hand, I know what it is like when you get caught in rain, saw quite a few cars on the Strzelecki who had huge problems.

So all I can do is repeating again and again that it depends on the conditions, the driver's capability, careful driving and a car that is in good shape.

I am really thankful for your thoughts and input on several posts here, thanks for taking the time.

Rita

Jul 18, 2012
Great report
by: Rita

Hi Jessica,

Thank you so much for your feedback. I am happy you enjoyed your road trip, and everything went well.

Yes, Coward Springs is an amazing place, and so is Arkaroola. Good you got to see it as well.

Rita

Jul 01, 2012
road trip
by: Jessica

BTW, this trip holiday had been extend to 20 days. which allows us to reach more places and more relaxing

Jul 01, 2012
Planning to drive from Melbourne to Uluru
by: Mike (WAX) W

Rita I think I would use caution to recommend travelling along the Oodnadata Track in a sedan. Even though it was stated that they were using a Toyota sedan and I am assuming it would be a 2wd I would suggest if you come across rain, which is not uncommon now, there are far to many water crossings or "wash outs" to safely conquer the track, let alone lost traction on a wet track.

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