Issue 30: Australian Outback Adventure
Perth to Uluru (via Great Central Road) and back to Perth (via Eyre Peninsula and the Nullarbor)
Last week, I started to share info on our road trip via the Great Central Road to central Australia. All up we drove 8038km in 18 days. Why would you want to do a trip like this? Because Australia is absolutely stunning…and big!
If you were to do this trip, you need to be well prepared due to the remoteness of the areas you’ll drive through, where you could be the only vehicle for the day! You will need a fully equipped 4WD, tents, and be self sufficient in terms of food, water etc. (at least for most of it). You won’t have phone reception, or see a lot of other people during most of this trip, so be sure to do it with people you like spending time with (and who have the same taste in music as you). This is definitely getting off the beaten track, but that is what made it such an amazing trip.
Below I’ve shared a day by day overview of our trip, including links to the hot chocolates we had. On my blog I’ve written up each one separately with tips on the different locations. Most of the time there were no cafes, so we made our own hot chocolates infused with native herbs and spices. Check out last week posts for more on that.
Day 1: Perth to Lake Ballard
Stop in Kalgoorlie, a mining city with an open cut gold mine you can visit in the centre of town and plenty of cafes.
Lake Ballard has Australia’s largest outdoor gallery with. pieces from Turney Prize winning artist Antony Gormley.
Free campsite on the side of the lake is beautiful, one of our favourites.
Day 2: Lake Ballard to Giles Breakaway
Beginning of the Great Central Road.
Camp at Giles Breakaway, free campsite just off the Great Central Road with beautiful views and lots of privacy and space (and 4G mobile reception).
Day 3: Giles Breakaway to Desert Surf Central
Count the wrecked cars that line the side of the road. There are hundreds of them.
Desert Surf Central is an amazing free camp. If you have a 4wd, you can drive up to the top of the hill to camp. From here, you are rewarded with 360 degree views of central Australia.
Day 4: Desert Surf Central to Giles River
Stop at Warburton Roadhouse and visit the art gallery at the local shire council.
Look out for wild camels (there are 1.2 million of them) and wild horses (500,000 of them). They seem to like hanging out right in the middle of the road….
Camp at Giles River free camp, about 50km past Warakurna.
Day 5: Giles River to Ayres Rock Camping (Uluru)
Visit Kata Tjuṯa, a short drive from Yulara. This is 36 steep sided domes that appear out of nowhere. The Valley of the Winds walk is 5.4km but start early, it gets hot here!
Camping at Ayres Rock Camping. If you camp, I highly recommend that you make and have your dinners and breakfasts from the sunrise and sunset car parks at Uluru rather than at Yulara.
Day 6: Uluru
Do the 10km walk around Uluru and visit the Cultural Centre for information on why this is such an important place.
The hot chocolate at Uluru was horrible, but my posts give tips on what and how to visit the area. There is good icecream there though, made with native ingredients.
Day 7: Uluru to Kings Canyon
Stop for a camel burger (yes, really) at King’s Creek Station - surprisingly delicious!
Sign up for the Karaoke Aboriginal Cultural Experience. A must.
Camp at Kings Canyon Discovery Park. They have a happy hour and live music up on a hill with stunning views.
Day 8: Kings Canyon to Palm Valley
Morning - do the 6km walk of the Kings Canyon loop. The canyon is 300 metres high with 360 degree panoramic views. A highlight of our trip.
Camp at Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park, located on one of the oldest rivers in the world. Campsites bookable through national park website.
Day 9: Alice Springs
Do the Palm Valley walk. The palms aren’t supported to be here, but have been for a very long time. Beautiful walk, but a very bumpy 4km road in - 4WD only!
Depending on time, stop at a few other sites along the way, like Stanley Chasm.
Camped at G’Day Mate Tourist Park. There is a brewery right next door that serves good beer and pizza.
Day 10: Alice Springs to Coober Pedy (via The Painted Desert)
Drive out to see the Painted Desert. It is a bit of a detour but so worth it. One of the most stunning places I have ever seen.
Stayed at the Lookout Cave Hotel which is underground! Sixty percent of residents in Coober Pedy live underground because of the extreme heat.
Day 11: Coober Pedy to Gawler Ranges National Park (via Kingoonya)
Hot chocolate at Big Wench 360 with fascinating views over this town which is also the Opal mining capital of the world.
Take the dirt road into the park via Kingoonya, and be amazed at the staggering number of kangaroos and emus!
Camp at Scrubby Peak campsite.
Day 12: Gawler Ranges National Park to Port Lincoln
Hike up to the top of Scrubby Peak, for amazing 360 deg views.
Hot Chocolate Tumby Bay Bakery which is famous for its impressive street art.
Best Fish n Chips ever for dinner in Port Lincoln, at The Fresh Fish Place.
AirBnB on the coast in Tulka, just South of Port Lincoln.
Day 13: Port Lincoln/Tulka
Hot Chocolate at French cafe L’Anse using couverture chocolate accompanied by chocolate desserts.
Half Day Oyster Tour with Experience Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tours. They take you out on their boat to the Oyster farm and you get to walk around (and eat a lot of oysters).
Eat fish and ships (again) at Fresh Fish Place in Port Lincoln - it was that good we went back!
Day 14: Port Lincoln/Tulka to Coffin Bay National Park
Hot Chocolate at multi award winning Boston Bean Coffee Company. If you read any of the posts, read this one:)
Camp at Black Springs campsite in Coffin Bay National Park. Rough 4WD track in to the campsite, but it was totally worth it. Perfect white sand beaches and turquoise waters.
Day 15: Coffin Bay National Park to Ceduna
Explore South side of Coffin Bay National Park, before driving to Ceduna.
Stop for lunch at Oyster HQ in Coffin Bay.
Visit Murphy’s Haystacks and Seal Sanctuary
Camped at Ceduna Shelly Beach Caravan Park (only one we would have rethought. I’d go further and stay near Cactus Beach if we were to do it again).
Day 16: Along the Nullarbor (Ceduna to Madura)
Play the worlds longest 18 hole par 72 golf course that is spread across two states and two time zones.
Hot Chocolate at Penang Roadhouse was horrible (like, really horrible), but Penang is definitely worth a stop. Penong is the last stop before you start driving the Nullarbor, a long, straight road with no trees or obvious towns. Visit the free outdoor windmill museum (more interesting than it sounds), and take the short detour out to Cactus Beach (considered by many the best surf beach in Oz) and if you’re lucky, see a pink lake.
Stop at Nuytsland Nature Reserve to see some of the longest unbroken cliffs in the world and the Head of Bight to see whales, dolphins, sharks etc.
Free camp at the top of Madura Pass - stunning views, if only it wasn’t directly above the highway ….
Day 17: Madura to Kulin
Drive the 90 mile straight, the longest, straight stretch of road in Australia
Take the Norseman to Hyden road, followed by the Tin Horse highway to Kulin.
Camp in Kulin, a little town with a free council provided campsite. It is famous for having hundreds of statues of horses doing silly things. Grab a counter meal at the local pub. Kulin also has a great cafe called Acres of Taste.
Day 18: Kulin to Perth (with a big detour down to Manjimup)
Take a bit of a detour to visit all of the farm stalls and pick up fresh produce around Manjimup and Bridgetown.
Stop at Manjimup Park Cafe for great paninis and coffee.
Sites to help you plan your trip
Thanks for reading and have a great week!
Chief Chocolate Sipper at www.ultimatehotchocolate.com
Follow on Instagram @ultimatehotchoc
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