Driving - Sydney to Ayers Rock to Cairns?

Mar 2nd, 2005, 03:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8
Driving - Sydney to Ayers Rock to Cairns?

Trying to plan out an itinerary for a 18-19 day trip to Australia in November. Would like to start off in Sydney for 3 - 4 nights and end at Lizard or Bedarra Island for 5 nights. Need to decide what to do in between. Does anyone recommend driving from Sydney to Ayers Rock? How long will that take? How about driving from Sydney to Cairns? Or should I just stick w/ domestic flights? Thanks for any advice!!!
slv_jr is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Hello slv_jr,

Definitely recommend flying. You can look at Virgin Blue, Jetstar and Qantas.

Sydney to Ayers Rock / Uluru is 35 hours of driving, not counting stops. Similar to driving San Francisco - Detroit.

Ayers Rock / Uluru to Cairns is 33 hours' driving, in the same order of magnitude.

How about doing Far North Queensland, Sydney / Blue Mountains, and then Tasmania for your remaining time?

In November try moving from north to south if you can.

Sorry, cannot help you out on Lizard and Bedarra, as I have been to neither. Lizard has been talked about a lot around here, and a word search will bring up numerous previous discussion threads. Bedarra Island has been mentioned too, although less often, so a word search will elicit information about it too. Actually, here's a previous discussion thread in which someone asked for a comparison between the two islands, and received some responses:


Here's a great website about Australia (the Map Maker feature, which gives driving directions, distances, times and maps is particularly useful):


And here's a website about Queensland's islands:


The website on Queensland's islands also has links to info on Tasmania and other tourist destinations in Oz.

Do a word search here to find out what Alice Springs resident Paul_S has to say about Ayers Rock / Uluru in the southern hemisphere summer.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 04:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,078
I don't think anyone in their right mind would recommend driving from Sydney to the Red Centre, especially in such a tight time frame. Oz is roughly the same size as mainland US. Imagine driving from, say, NY, to somewhere in the centre, mostly through desert, with no population, no towns, and no highways - only made roads which may resemble goat tracks. It'd take about 4-5 days of extremely boring driving, and you can't drive at night because of the risk of wildlife on the road.

Sydney to Cairns is also not a particularly interesting drive - the highway mostly avoids the coast, so there's not much in the way of scenery. It is doable - but still pretty boring - and the highways are not what you may be used to. We just don't have the population here to justify major 6 lane highways.

I think your best bet, in such a short time, is domestic flights. Get on the mailing lists for both Qantas and Virgin Blue, and watch out for specials.
margo_oz is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 01:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 288
Hi Sly_jr,

Do not even think about driving from Sydney to Ayres Rock, if you drive like me it will take you 2 days at a minimum but for a first timer it will be more like 3 days. It is a pretty boring trip with not much to see in fact I quite often remark to my wife, as we leave Port Augusta in South Australia heading north, "welcome to the great nothingness". The same could be said of the journey once you leave Cobar in NSW heading west.

Apart from anything else you would have to contend with goats, kangaroos, emu's, horses, camels, and eagles just to name a few that can end up as hood ornaments.

Save yourself the worry and take the 2.5 hour flight from Sydney to Ayres Rock you will certainly be glad you did. When you have finished there you can be in Cairns in another 2.5 hours by air instead of driving the exceedingly boring journey to get there.

By the way just to give you an idea that I know the road well from Alice Springs to Sydney, I drive it at least 4 times a year and sometimes up to 8 return journey's. However my car is set up for this kind of driving which is something that cannot be said for the normal hire car.


Paul_S is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 05:30 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,116
As "boring" as some of the locals think it is I'd personnally love to have the time and opportunity to drive Sydney-Ayers-Cairns. However as others have indicated, this should not be attempted in the span of a short 19 day holiday. It's definitely a "can't get there from here" scenario. As the crow flies Sydney-Ayers may not look that bad (well it's still around 1000 miles), but the fact is there are no significant roads that run east-west through the middle of the country (the Simpson Desert getting in the way). Thus the only practical route involves a significant "detour" through Adelaide. A similar situation applies for Ayers-Cairns.
RalphR is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 07:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8
thanks for the responses! we'll definitely fly instead, considering the long drive times.
slv_jr is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 05:10 AM
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slv_jr - Suggest you pick up a film called "Pricilla, Queen of the Desert." I loved every minute of this movie, but the scene that stays with me is when the characters leaving SYD, on the outskirts heading to Alice Springs - they stand there and look at the "nothingness" out there and comment "I think we should've flown."
Mar 4th, 2005, 07:33 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,630

If you were to drive the lovely section between Uluru an Alice ( perhaps via Kings Canyon) you'd get a taste of that beautiful great "nothingness'. 100kms betwen stations and nothing manmade except the car you are driving and the road you are driving on. Terrriffic! 90 km outside of Alice you come to Stuart's Well home of Dinky the world famous piano playing and singing dingo of Central Australia. His performance and the whole gestalt of Stuarts Well and the Red Center were among the highlights of our extraordinary time down under.

AndrewDavid is offline  

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