Saturday, September 15, 2018

Adelaide to Alice Springs Road Trip:

Adelaide to Alice Springs Road Trip:
Starting in Tauranga New Zealand - 2nd to 13th September 2018

Apollo 2 Berth Campervan
START: 59808km  – FINISH: 62742km
Ever since I was a child I wanted to drive to Alice Springs. This year it happened!

Main places visited: (not including the rest stops along the way for photos and walks)
Adelaide- Port Pirie- Port Germein- Port Augusta- Pimba- Woomera- Glendambo- Coober Pedy- Marla- Kulgera- Erldunda- Yulara/Uluru- Kata Tjuta- Kathleen Springs- Kings Canyon- Alice Springs
Total distance travelled: 2934km
351.24 litres- $640.52 Petrol Cost- (lowest paid per litre $1.41 Port Augusta- Highest paid both Uluru/Kings Canyon $2.13)
Average Litres per 100km over the trip- 11.96ltr

Coldest morning Port Pirie 3deg-  Hottest day: Alice Springs 33deg
Cool in morning but averaging about 27deg each day
Blue sky's with light winds apart from 1 day at Coober Pedy with high wind and clouds

Interesting to see how the desert view changed every hour or so while driving, this was unexpected. While I don’t like driving- it was a breeze and easy to drive these roads. Very good condition, long, easy to pass any slower traffic, in fact the best part of the trip was the driving. Really enjoyable and loved getting up each morning to drive to my next stop. (I didn’t drive at night due to wildlife but did do a couple of 6.30am starts (once light))

Every day you saw dead Kangaroo’s on the side of the road and heard stories/saw the damage to vehicles of people hitting them at speed even in the daylight hours. (I just missed hitting a large red kangaroo at 110km at 10am (missed by 1mtr very scary)
I did see a bit of wild life on the side of the road. From birds, Emus, Kangaroos, camels, lizards. At some of my stops there were lots of animal signs (droppings) so to see the wildlife you had to go bush to find them. At Kings Canyon a lot of Dingos come into the camp at night but again you have to go out looking for them.

Something I don't see at home was all the creeks and rivers I crossed were bone dry. Also Cattle Stops every 10 or 30 km of road as most fencing goes left to right (not along the road side) so lots of road signs to look out not just for Kangaroo’s but also livestock.

I was able to get internet access at each overnight stop and when you passed a Roadhouse. (Kings Canyon Camp Ground very hard to pick up a signal)

First impressions of the Campervan:
The van an Apollo 2 Berth Camper High-top took a bit to get use to as driving with even light wind or when a big road train passed it tended to blow about over the road at times at 110km.
Looked brand new- immaculate, clean and tidy. Auto with inbuilt GPS/CD/USB & Cruise Control. Fridge which was extremely quiet- (other vans I saw were rough inside and had very noisy fridges) Sink- 2 burner cooker, microwave, cupboards with toaster/jug- everything you need including bedding & towels, camp chair and table.

For my hire which included everything insurance wise- the drop off fee at Alice Springs- drop off dirty and get them to clean- drop and go (best $75.00 I ever spent as way too hard to clean myself to the same condition I picked it up in)
11 Days Hire: $1681.10 NZD  I was 100% happy with this van. Did hear about and see some cheaper options but the condition of them was pretty bad. I didn’t have to pay any security deposit upon pick up.
On the road was very few campervans as in only a handful driving up to/past Coober Pedy. More started to appear once I got to Erldunda. More people flying to both Alice Springs and Yulara/Uluru to pick them up and drive/stay in that area.

Really impressed with the number of retired people driving in their 4X4 cars and 4X4 Caravans. Many of them have been on the road for months driving across Australia and back again clocking up 1000's of km. Being in a hire campervan I had to stay on the main roads (allowed 12km off the road if needed to access rest stops and places to visit) Talking to and seeing the red dust all over their vehicles they are driving off the main highway tracks, something I will look at doing next time.

I felt very safe driving, walking around both Coober Pedy & Alice Springs at night on my own. Enjoyed listening to and having the odd chat with the locals.
In Coober Pedy a couple in a canvas pop top trailer camper had money stolen in the middle of the night while sleeping. Must have left their bag in view? Heard a few times of some locals stealing money, cigarettes, liquor from motor camps so I made sure the camper was always locked. One guy I spoke to had all his beer stored in a big chilly bin outside the caravan, of course it wasn’t there in the morning! Just need to lock up.

Stayed in Camp Grounds each night (1 person) – Lowest price $15.00 at Woomera and Highest price at Uluru at $53.00. I have to say impressed with the showers.. apart from Kings Canyon they had heaps of pressure and the ones at Alice Springs Tourist Park had so much pressure they gave you a massage—fantastic after a days driving.

Day 0:
Drive from Tauranga to Auckland New Zealand on 1st Sept and stayed the night/store car at the Jet Park Motel then caught their free shuttle to the airport early that morning.

Day 1:Fly Auckland to Adelaide – arrive at 10.50am Adelaide to Port Pirie On my way to pick up the Campervan made a short stop to check out Glenelg Beach and take some photos. Picked up the van at 2.30pm and headed straight out to start my journey. Took a bit to get use driving as being a high top van sways about in the wind at 110km an hour. Drove straight to Port Pirie taking in the roadside sites and stayed the night at Port Pirie Beach Caravan Park right on the beach- friendly staff and great view of the water. Coldest night of the trip waking to 3deg- so glad had a small heater in the van. Highlight- Taking photos around town and water’s edge and starting my journey. 

Day 2: Port Pirie to Woomera Trying to work out a system in the van and stow bedding/bags/clothes etc each day. Of course a Campervan with separate seating and bed would make things much easier) Stopped at Port Germein- looked around and took photos of the over 1km long Jetty Stopped at Port Augusta- visited the Wadlata Outback Centre – photos around town then left the water behind and on the road to the outback.Interesting to note lots of cattle stops across the highway (fencing right to left) plus plenty of big Kangaroo’s dead on the side of the road. Stayed the night at Woomera Travellers Village & Caravan Park. Camp has a bar so a great way to meet other travelers and have a drink. Friendly camp staff. Spuds Roadhouse in Pimba (5km away) at night for a nice meal of Lamb Shank (massive not like in NZ) and mash potatoes/vegs! Best meal ever. Drove slowly in the dark back to the camp as plenty of Kangaroos about. Highlight- on my way in the outback- seeing wildlife (some alive!) including Lizard- kangaroo’s- lots of Emus and Eagle’s feeding on the road kill along the way.

Day 3: Woomera to Coober Pedy
Visited the Rocket and Missile Park in Woomera and looked around town. First stop was Lake Heart about 40km out. Huge Salt Lake and crossed the railway line to walk out into it. Did a bush walk and saw big Red Kangaroo.  On one of the stops at a rest area met up with a guy biking from Alice Springs to Adelaide!  Gave him some of my water bottles to keep him going which he gladly accepted. Arrived in Coober Pedy and stayed the night at the Coober Pedy Opel Inn which was right in town. Bigger and busier than the other camp grounds but great staff.
Highlight- The bush walk and seeing the big red kangaroo. I wish I had a few extra days to go ‘walkabout’ as in leave the campervan and walk for a day then camp and walk back again.

Day 4: 2nd day in Coober Pedy
Was very windy- lots of dark clouds about. Visited 
Josephine's Gallery & Kangaroo Orphanage- Toms working Opel Mine – Fays Underground Home and Opel mine- (This is a must- excellent tour) the underground churches- underground bar and hotel. Need to make sure you lock everything- locals broke into a pop top trailer while couple was sleeping and stole their money-  heard a few stories of this with locals taking only money/cigarettes and liquor at camp sites. Great town, very dusty old and run down which gives it its outback charm. 
Highlight- hearing about the mines and how they work & meeting some of the people that work in them.

Day 5: Coober Pedy to Erldunda
Great to be back on the road after a 2nd day at Coober Pedy. I missed driving! Lots of stops on the way and taking photos- Dog Fence- Wildlife- ever changing scenery.
Stop off point here before head to Uluru. Stayed in Erldunda Roadhouse Camp Ground. Again great staff.  In the camp had Kangaroos- Emus- Camels
Highlight- Up on the viewing platform at Sunset for photos and meet other travelers on their way to or from Uluru.

Day 6: Erldunda to Yulara/Uluru & Kata Tjuta
Left at 6.30am Again like every trip loved the changing scenery and stopping for photos. I thought this far out everything would be baron but there were lots of green trees and bush.
Arrived at around 10am to many 100’s of people in Cars Campervans/Busses at the base of Uluru (though very few people walking around) Walked around the base- when I got back only a hand full of people were at the car park. I didn’t walk up because it was windy and they had closed the walk. Maybe just as well as I was undecided for 1. I didn’t realise just how steep this climb is! And 2. Out of respect for the local people who ask that you don’t walk up. In the afternoon I drove to Kata Tjuta and did the Valley of the Wind walk. Back to Uluru for the sun set viewing and photos watching it change colour, Impressive. Got their early as is one very busy viewing carpark.
Stayed in the Ayers Rock Resort camp ground. Very busy staff. I booked a month eailer to get a power site and after a few phone calls and emails they still never confirmed back to me that I had a booking. Reading comments on line I am not the only person with them not getting back to you. I loved the scenery but didn’t like being in the big resort with busloads of tourists. I was going to stay 2 nights but left after 1 night as that was enough.
Highlight- Uluru at the Sunset carpark watching it change colour- impressive! 

Day 7: Yulara/Uluru to Kings Canyon
Left at 6.30am and got to Kings Canyon late morning. This was one of the best highlights of my trip- this is a must see and do – walking the Rim Walk.  An incredible walk up and along the canyon with natural rock steps (except at the start the first 500)- also walked at Katherine Springs. Nice to come back to the Kings Canyon camp ground for a much needed swim. In the evening went to the viewing platform to watch the sunset- take photos of the Canyon as it changed colour as the sun set and meet other travelers. They also had a bar so could buy a wine/or bring your own.
Highlight- Rim Walk! A must do

Day 8: Kings Canyon to Alice Springs
Left in the morning and allowed some time for plenty of stops along the way for photos. While I ended up adding to Australia’s road kill with Parrots/Birds I just missed a large Red Kangaroo which jumped out at me missing it by 1mtr. Was pretty scary as they are large animals and do a lot of damage. This was at 10am.  Lots of camel & Kangaroo droppings on the road edge along this stretch of road.
At last arrived at Alice Springs in the late afternoon. It was bigger than I thought it would be, but a very special place that I have thought about visiting often. Took photos of the sun set at Anzac Hill overlooking the town. Stayed in the Alice Springs Tourist Park with very helpful/friendly staff. This is the closest Camp to town.
Highlight- Driving into Alice, the last part of my journey, a selfie in front of the Welcome to Alice Springs sign- I made it! 

Day 9: Alice Springs
Time spent walking around town. Desert Park- fantastic to see all the desert animals in their natural surroundings. When you are out walking they are all there, at least in the park you get to see them. Having a cider in the main street Todd Mall!  Walks at Emily Gap in the East McDonnell Ranges.
Highlight- Seeing the Dingo’s up close at Desert Park

Day 10: Alice Springs
Reptile Park in the morning- great to see all the reptiles that are living in the outback. I got to hold a snake and lizards.This is a must visit. In the afternoon did a drive to the West McDonnell Ranges to the Ellery Creek Big Hole. It was 33deg so nice to go for a walk and swim in the water hole which was COLD! Also nice to be back driving again.
Highlight- Holding a Snake, something I always wanted to do

Day 11: Alice Springs
A relaxing morning, clean inside of van and do some washing, pack up bags ready to drop off the van at 3.00pm and walk back to town.
A quiet day of walking around town. Alice Springs Telegraph Station walks. A nice cold cider in the Main Street, looking at the aboriginal art work in the shops-  but to be honest it was very expensive when you had the locals both painting and selling their artwork for a lot less out in the town square. Dropped off van and walked through town. Booked into the Diplomat Hotel for a bit of down time and my last night. After tea walked up Anzac Hill for one last look over the town at night. Town was pretty noisy with a far bit of yelling and drunk locals walking around but always felt safe.

Day 12: Alice Springs to Sydney- Auckland- drive back to Tauranga
In the morning caught the shuttle to the airport and made my way home.

Last Word:
Everything went to plan 100%. I had no issues with the Campervan-or accommodation, was nice to meet up at times with others as traveling on my own at times was a bit quiet.  Wish had a few extra days to do full day bush walks midway in the trip. Glad didn’t go near the tourists resorts/casino in Alice. I think I experienced a lot of the outback but in saying that I would do this again but next time with a 4x4 and take the unsealed roads. Next trip will be to fly into Alice Springs and continue my way up to Darwin. Can’t wait!   

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