Adelaide To Uluru

Old Apr 26th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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Adelaide To Uluru

G'day Mates!

We're planning an extended trip (~ 2 months) to Oz beginning in late September. We will be based in Adelaide,SA and the first thing that we want to do is see the Red Center before it gets too hot. We have four (4) options as I see it and I would appreciate your comments as to which might be the best.

1. Rent a car in Adelaide & drive. There will be four of us and time is not a constraint.

2. Fly to Uluru and rent a car there.

3. Take the Ghan to Alice Springs then rent a car there.

4. Book a tour bus directly from Adelaide.

Any thoughts on these options?
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 04:51 PM
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Well I would definitely not consider option 1. That is a very long boring drive into the Outback and unless you are experienced at that sort of thing I would not attempt it.
The Ghan to Alice would be my pick. You cover the really long stretches by train enabling you to see the Outback. The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru is manageable and gives you a chance to get closer to the countryside and experience the unforgettable approach to that huge rock appearing out of the desert.
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 08:56 AM
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Prof. Plum: I respectfully disagree with Down Under. I would not rule out Option 1, especially if you have plenty of time and you and your passengers do not mind long car trips. One of the main advantages is that you can make the most of it and see other great places along the way. You might also consider a one-way hire, say Adelaide to Alice. Though likely more expensive (if possible at all), this will save backtracking and allow you to return by air.

Drive north from Adelaide and spend some time exploring the lovely Clare Valley and its wineries. Continue inland to the rugged and beautiful Flinders Ranges (now clearly in the Outback), perhaps staying a 2-3 nights at Wilpena Pound. Some great walking to enjoy - and lots of wildlife.

Backtrack slightly toward Quorn and Port Augusta and then again head north on the Stuart Hwy. Stay a night or two in Coober Pedy, the famous opal mining town, the place where a good proportion of homes and businesses are underground. Fascinating.

The last stretch, from Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock will be the longest day's drive (735 km, 457 miles).

My wife and I did some of this trip a couple of years ago. We took a leisurely day driving to Wilpena from Adelaide through the Claire, enjoying a great lunch at the Skillogalee winery. Spent three nights at the Wilpena Pound Resort. Then we drove to Coober Pedy for two nights. It was a long drive from Wilpena, but nonetheless quite enjoyable - very little traffic. I think we went for about half an hour on the Stuart hwy at one point without seeing a car coming the opposite direction.

If time allows, continue on to Alice. Plenty of other things to see besides Uluru - the Olgas, Kings Canyon, the MacDonnell ranges and associated gorges, etc. It's a great part of Australia. Just depends on how much time you have to spend. With 10 days to 2 weeks, you could see it all - Clare, Wilpena, Coober Pedy, Uluru, Olgas, Kings Canyon, Alice, MacDonnell Ranges.

Agree you should do the trip before it gets too hot. Even if you do not get to Wilpena and the Flinders ranges en route to the Red Center, also try to get there before it heats up. It is really worth it
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 05:07 PM
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I'm with Ralph on this one - we've done it, going southbound, and it is worth doing, stopping at the places mentioned above. I also agree that it would be kind of tedious going both ways, that it might be worth flying or taking the train back.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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Hi PP,

I vote for the drive also. Far from boring, this trip is really very beautiful. Ralph's itinerary is perfect, I have done the exact route and stops.

There really is so much to see. Even from Coober Pedy you have The Breakaways, where the Mad Max movie was shot - an incredible lunar landscape but truly beautiful.

Please do try to get to King's Canyon also - I think it is a very special place though I do think Uluru is equally beautiful.

As far as the drive Adelaide to Uluru is bitumen all the way and you should have no problems at all with the drive.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 03:22 PM
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O.K. Thanks everyone for the great advice --- Option 1 it is!

I understand that the Stuart Hwy from Adelaide to Alice is paved and that the Lassiter Hwy to Uluru and Olgas is also paved.

What about roads to Kings Canyon, East & West MacDonnells, and Wilpena? Are they also paved or should I be renting a 4X4?
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 03:39 PM
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From Alice Springs to the East and West MacDonnells is bitumen but some of the side roads are not paved and are very uneven and they do recommend a 4WD. Around Alice Springs, we found plenty of roads and tracks we could go down without a 4WD.
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for that info Susan7. Can I get to King's Canyon on bitumen? What is the route from Uluru?
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Old Apr 28th, 2008, 05:36 PM
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I haven't driven between Uluru and Alice Spring, but in my ancient Lonely Planet guide it looks like there are two routes to Kings Canyon: one is unsealed, Ernest Giles Road, and the other is sealed following Lasseter, Luritja then Ernest Giles (sealed after the turn off with Luritja).

Someone here is bound to have personal experience and more up to date information.

Something to consider while making a decision about this, rental cars are not supposed to be taken on unsealed roads in Australia. I assume this doesn't apply to 4WDs? The catch here is that quite a lot of national parks can only be accessed via unsealed roads. In NSW and Victoria I regularly take my tiny Mazda down such roads (you don't need a 4WD on many unsealed roads) but if renting a car I don't.
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Old May 1st, 2008, 10:33 PM
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Hey Prof,
I've been googling trying to get some information on the Mereenie Loop Road. We last did that road in 2002 and was dirt then but I think that most of it is now bitumen.

An email to the NT Tourism office would clarify that for you but I would also suggest you check on your rental car company to see if you are covered on that road as well.

I really believe that King's Canyon is worth the effort to get there. Many places along the way are also so beautiful such as Palm Valley, Ormiston Gorge etc.

Let us know how you get on.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 04:54 AM
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We went to Kings Canyon a few years ago on the return to Alice from Uluru. It was paved the whole way, even after turning off the Lasseter Hwy on to the Lurija Rd. We would have liked to have taken the Mereenie Loop Rd, but this was off limits to our camper (not allowed on unsealed roads). I read that Mereenie is still unsealed for ~200 kms.
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Old May 4th, 2008, 07:08 PM
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Thanks mates

I've been able to confirm that the route from Uluru to Kings Canyon mentioned by Susan7 ( Lassiter,Luritja, Ernest Giles ) is indeed sealed all the way and the Mereenie Loop is still partially unsealed and requires a 4X4 as noted by RalphR.

Any suggestions for places to stay in Uluru, Kings Canyon, MacDonnell's?
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Old May 4th, 2008, 07:29 PM
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Yulara, the resort area at Uluru, is run by one company Voyages, while their properties at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and on Heron Island are still almost as good as they were when run by P & O, there are consistent complaints about Yulara. Do a search on this site for past discussions.

I found Outback Pioneer (the cheapest option, other than camping) was fine.

Alice Springs is a good base for exploring the MacDonnells:

http://www.alicespringshotels.com/hotelsmotels.htm
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Old May 9th, 2008, 05:20 AM
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G'day Professor,
Like the others, I absolutely recommend driving from Adelaide, especially if time is no constraint. I would recommend a smallish 4WD (Pajero size) hired in Adelaide. The term price-gouging comes to mind when renting a vehicle in Uluru or Alice. In addition to the great suggestions above to visit, also consider Chambers Pillar, on a loop drive to Lambert Centre - the geogrpahic centre of Australia. Just something different. Even though it is not summer, driving those distances behind glass can still be dehydrating. Consider buying or renting a small car fridge to keep your drinks cold. A 4WD also gives just the bit extra room for your gear. Accommodation can get very expensive for poor quality - ya gotta love monopolies. The West McDonnell ranges are magnificent - please dont rush the drive.

Ive been to the centre about 6 times from alll directions and am going back in August to take my kids (who have been most places except there!).
Enjoy
Peter
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