5 of Australia’s Top Desert Road Trips
Desert road trips are sometimes overlooked but they offer some amazing experiences. Spectacular landscapes, enormous skies (with some of the best night sky views in the world) and of course, the extreme vastness of the 5.6 million km² Australian outback.
We list some of the top desert road trips Australia has to offer. Find the distance, caravan parks, prices and information here.
The Red Centre Way, 1140km – NT
About: Uluru is on this famous desert road trip. See the world-famous natural beauty of this iconic landmark on the Red Centre Way , along with red desert sands, deep canyons and wildlife including kangaroos, dingoes and wild horses. Visitors are stunned by the rich colours changing as they drive through the Mars-like landscapes at dawn and dusk. Take the recommended 6 days to explore every part. Note that Alice Springs is the main population centre.
Distance From Darwin: 1500km
Accessibility: The 1140km loop has some unsealed sections, however, there is a shorter sealed loop recommended for 2-wheel drive cars. Numerous accommodation and fuel / supply options available.
Attractions: Uluru, Aboriginal historical sites, wildlife, famous red deserts.
Best Time to Go: May to September
Caravan Parks: Big4 MacDonnell Ranges, Ayers Rock Campground
Average Price / Night: $50 (powered site)
Brisbane to Birdsville, 1582km – QLD
About: Birdsville is home to Australia’s most remote pub – a constant theme for the tough ‘Brissy to Birdsville’ desert road trip. You’ll experience the astronomical remoteness of Australia. It’s generally recommended for 4WD vehicles and travellers familiar with long distances. Make sure to prepare correctly. Visit outback townships and enjoy Australian ‘bush tucker’ while soaking in the raw expanse of the desert landscape. Birdsville is a well-established outback town of around 140 people, however, the town has a considerable amount of visitors all year round.
Distance From Brisbane: 1582km
Accessibility: The road is sealed but recommended for high clearance vehicles. There are many unsealed roads in the surrounding areas. Fuel and supply locations can be sparse to prepare accordingly.
Attractions: Quirky Aussie pubs, prehistoric fossils, Aboriginal history, stunning outback scenery.
Best Time to Go: May to September
Caravan Parks: Birdsville Caravan Park, Cunnamulla Riverside Tourist Park
Average Price / Night: $37 (powered site)
The Gibb River Road, 660km – WA
About: This desert road trip is located in north-west Western Australia. It dissects the rugged wilderness of the Kimberley region known as one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers. The area is 3 times the size of England, but with less than 1% the population. Visitors love the beaches of the Indian Ocean to the west of the Gibb River Road and the breathtaking desert mountains it cuts through inland. The nearest major town is Broome.
Distance From Perth: 2714km
Accessibility: 4WD vehicles are highly recommended due to the large unsealed and heavily corrugated sections. The road is subject to flooding in the wet season from November to March. Suitable for off-road caravans.
Attractions: Untouched wilderness, freshwater swimming holes (with and without crocodiles), Aboriginal rock art.
Best Time to Go: April to October
Caravan Parks: Wyndham Caravan Park, Home Valley Station
Average Price / Night: $30 (powered site)
The Nullarbor Plain, 1200km – SA / WA
About: Consider this desert road trip to have coastal views too. Crossing the Nullarbor is a bucket list favourite for caravanners and it’s no wonder with what it offers. You’ll need several days or more to explore this amazing part of Australia. 4WD capability is a good choice for venturing off the highway. ‘Nullarbor’ means ‘no trees’ in Latin but did you know the world’s largest eucalyptus hardwood forest is located here? Other attractions include the longest line of sea cliffs and the world’s longest golf course, the Nullarbor Links – it stretches 1,370km! Although there are towns and petrol stations at intervals, make sure you plan your trip carefully.
Distance From Perth: 720km
Distance From Adelaide: 777km
Accessibility: Sealed main highway with unsealed sideroads. There are several sections lasting multiple hours with no fuel or supply stops.
Attractions: Nullarbor Links, whale watching, rugged cliff views, fishing.
Best Time to Go: Winter months
Caravan Parks: Ceduna Shelly Beach Caravan Park, Eucla Caravan Park
Average Price / Night: $36 (powered site)
Adelaide to Darwin, 3887km – SA / NT
About: One of Australia’s biggest desert road trips, the gigantic Adelaide to Darwin (or Darwin to Adelaide) requires over a week to really enjoy. The route takes you through opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, pegged as the ‘opal capital of the world’, the scorching daytime temperatures have encouraged residents to live in underground homes! Go through the Flinders Ranges, past Uluru and through the Red Centre of Australia. Alice Springs and Katherine are two outback highlights in the NT. Travellers describe this journey as one of life’s most memorable with all the iconic Australian scenes and landscapes you’ll drive through.
Accessibility: Sealed roads with some prone to flooding in the wet season – December to March.
Attractions: SA wine region, Coober Pedy, Uluru, Red Centre, national parks, wildlife, tropical northern region.
Best Time to Go: May – September
Caravan Parks: Big4 Stuart Range Outback Resort, Ayers Rock Campground, Katherine Caravan Park
Average Price / Night: $40 (powered site)
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