Christmas in the Outback

by jackie cresswell
(south wales)

From Alice Springs to Adelaide in 10 days, hoping to see MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon, Uluru and Olgas, Cooper Pedy and Flinders Ranges.

Any suggestions? This is our first trip and am a bit concerned about distances and fuel stops etc.

rocky gap
Kings Canyon - Watarrka National Park

Rita's Reply

Hi Jackie,

You are right, that's a long distance from Alice Springs to Adelaide, with detours to the MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Uluru.

I don't know what kind of car you are going to hire, but a 4WD would save you quite a few detours.

With a 4 WD you could drive from Alice Springs to Glen Helen and explore all the gorges and canyons of the Western MacDonnell Ranges.

From Glen Helen you could go directly to Kings Canyon via the Mereenie Loop Road. This Road is unsealed, and you are certainly not allowed to use it with a conventional hired car.
It is not a bad road in dry weather, it can be corrugated, but if you take it slowly, it is a wonderful drive, the landscape is beautiful.

From Kings Canyon you reach Yulara and the Uluru / Kata Tjuta National Park on a sealed road, and the road to the Stuart Highway is also sealed.

Distances for the route Alice Springs - Glen Helen - Kings Canyon - Yulara / Uluru:

Alice Springs to Glen Helen 132 km
Glen Helen to Kings Canyon via Mereenie Loop Road 225 km
Kings Canyon to Yulara 303 km

Please note: The Mereenie Road is on Aboriginal Land, and you need a permit to drive here. Permits are available at Glen Helen Resort and Kings Canyon. Permits are only valid on the day you purchase them.
You are only allowed to stop at the designated rest areas, which was only one lookout point at the Kings Canyon end.

If you don't want/can't use the Mereenie Road you can do the Glen Helen Tour as a day trip from Alice Springs.

Alice Springs to Yulara via the Stuart Highway 443 km
Yulara to Kings Canyon it is 303 km, the same as above mentioned.
Kings Canyon to Erldunda 283 km.

You find more details on my Stuart Highway page. Looking for Uluru Tours? These unique tours might add to your Uluru experience.

There is no need to worry about fuel stops, there are plenty along the highways and also at Kings Canyon, Glen Helen and of course Yulara. Refuel in time, and you'll be fine.

Once you arrive in Port Augusta, you can go to the Flinders Ranges.
If you don't have much time left, go at least to Wilpena Pound for one night. From Wilpena to Adelaide it is 450 km drive which you can easily manage in one day.

One thing you should be aware of, central Australia will be pretty hot in December and January. This will give you a really different Christmas experience.
The average daily maximum in Alice Springs is around 35 °C.

Don't hesitate to ask more questions. Happy planning.


Comments for Christmas in the Outback

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Jul 24, 2009
More tips for Christmas in the Outback
by: Rita

Hi Jackie,

I don't think it will be too crowded in the red centre around Christmas time, but of course, I don't know for sure.

Both campgrounds, Glen Helen and Kings Canyon, don't require booking in advance. Kings Canyon is a fairly big park with 72 powered sites for caravans. Of course you can book ahead if you know exactly where you'll be at Christmas Day. You can do that after your arrival in Alice Springs.

One restaurant at the Kings Canyon resort will be closed during the summer months, but there are still 2 restaurants left.

Some tourist attractions in Australia close on Christmas Day, the Alice Spring Desert Park, for example. However, I am not aware that restaurants at the resorts will close as well.

Knowing Australian country hospitality, I am sure they are going to offer their guests a special Christmas feeling. It might be different from what you are used from Europe, though.

As for the underground accommodation in Coober Pedy, this really must be a special experience. I didn't try that because I was on a camping trip as well.

There are many museums, shops and restaurants underground. You can go and check them out and see if you feel comfortable. I am not sure if I'd feel a bit claustrophobic if I slept underground.

BTW, the Heavitree Gap Resort I mentioned above has a campground as well.


Jul 23, 2009
christmas in the outback
by: jackie cresswell

Many thanks for your comments. We are hiring a 4WD campervan for the trip but may stop in a hotel along the way. They say the underground hotels in Coober Pedy are quite an experience - any suggestions?

Also if we make it to Kings Canyon or Glen Helen for Christmas Day, do we need to book the campsite ahead and do you think there would be any chance of any food resembling Christmas fare?

Yes, we know it will be really hot so will take it slow to start with.
Thanks for your help

Jul 21, 2009
by: Rita

Hi Jackie,

it just crossed my mind that you perhaps want some information about accommodation as well.

Alice Springs has a wide range of hotels and apartments.

I really enjoyed the stay at Heavitree Gap Outback Resort. It is located at the entrance of Alice Springs. You can watch, and feed the rock wallabies right behind the motel section every night.

You can check out on the HotelsCombined website what is available for your destinations.
Accommodation Northern Territory

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