The Stuart Highway is one of Australia’s major highways. It runs from Darwin, Northern Territory via Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, to Port Augusta, South Australia, a distance of 2,834 km.
To inspire your next road trip, check out the top things Drew and I recommend from our 1,500km journey along the Stuart Hwy between Darwin and Alice Springs.
Kakadu National Park
253kms east of Darwin, Kakadu National Park is an Australian natural icon with world heritage listing and well worth the detour off the Stuart Hwy to visit.
Ubirr (pronounced Oo-beerr)
Within the East Alligator region of Kakadu National Park, Ubirr is known for its rock art and it’s scenery out over Arhnem Land. If you’re a Crocodile Dundee fan you’ll also recognise the scenery that features in one of the films.
Jim Jim Falls
Unhitch the caravan to 4WD the 50kms into spectacular Jim Jim Falls as it is one of the few public access areas where a high clearance vehicle is required. Plunging 200m off the Arnhem Land Escarpment into Jim Jim Creek and onto the mighty South Alligator River via Yellow Water Billabong, this seasonal waterfall displays an incredible power in the wet season but is still stunning to explore during the dry.
Mataranka Bitter Springs
After a couple of big days driving a dip in the 34 degree waters of the springs is very rewarding. We camped at the nearby Territory Manor Caravan Park for quick access to the springs at 7am – the perfect time to dip into the warm waters before the heat of the day picks up and the crowds arrive. Take your snorkel as the turquoise water is home to plenty of turtles.
75kms south of Mataranka lies what we consider to be the true-bluest Aussie Pub in the country. It houses the highest bar in the Northern Territory, and is immediately recognisable thanks to the Pink Panther sitting outside. Caravan sites, meals and beverages are available if you’re looking for somewhere to pull up for the night.
Built in 1930 this classic Aussie outback pub approximately 600kms south of Darwin has witnessed murders, shoot outs in the main street, cattle stampeding through town and the odd drunken brawls. But today it is well known for its ‘Beef n Barra nights’ and live country music that plays most nights. Be sure to book a campsite, you’ll want to spend a few hours in the bar gawking at the incredible wealth of random paraphernalia travellers have left in the bar.
If you’re an avid birdwatcher or just like a true bush camping experience, pull into the Longreach waterhole campsite part of the Lake Woods wetlands, only 12km west of Elliott off the Stuart Hwy. As you will only find basic facilities here this spot is best suited to people who have a camper or caravan and can be self sufficient.
Stop 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek to eyeball the huge granite boulders scattered across a wide, shallow valley. At sunrise and sunset the boulders appear to ‘glow’ and change colour from pink to bright red, similar to the other geological wonders in the Northern Territory, Uluru and Kata Tjuta. To witness this, it’s best to camp overnight at the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, a simple bush camping area with basic facilities.
Travelling the Stuart Hwy offers an array of things to see and do allowing you to not only break up the long journey between Darwin and Alice Springs but experience the true Aussie Outback.