Driving from Sydney to Alice Springs
Somewhere between Sydney and Alice Springs
I have decided to go Sydney - Alice Springs - Perth and leave the Darwin leg. In pricing Manchester - Sydney - Perth - Manchester, I found it to be cheaper anyway and Sydney looks fantastic. Also, between Sydney and Alice Springs lie Canberra, Woomera and Coober Pedy which are superb targets to aim for.
I didn't realize that Darwin was tropical and wet and I am not a huge fan of mosquitos. (Ed.: Martin's orginal question was about a Perth to Darwin trip.)
So after your response I researched further and changed my itinerary.
My new concerns:
- We (my wife and I) arrive in Sydney at around 08.00. Even allowing for delayed baggage reclaim, this is very early to check into a hotel. Do hoteliers in Australia appreciate this situation as a rule and allow you to check in and get some sleep after such a long journey?
- Is a visa required for Australia? Some say $20, some say it's free but you pay to leave?
- How many areas of Aboriginal permission would I need for Sydney - Alice Springs - Uluru - Perth?
- Do you have Sat Nav to hire like Garmin or Tom Tom in Australia? Although the roads in The Outback are few, Sat nav is a good way of counting down the miles as you drive and establish targets.
- You really have whet my appetite in talking about campers. My wife and I adore a car and a motel in the U.S.A. Is the road between Sydney and Alice Springs very much like a typical American drive i.e. settlements/towns with McDonald's, Denny's, Comfort Inn, Fuel etc... spaced periodically on the Highway?
- In selecting a camper (which we would love to have a bash at) we have a quandary in, if you choose a Motorhome for comfort (TV, Air Con etc.....) you lose any off road capability (less than a regular car I would think). If you choose a 4WD camper, you lose the space a motorhome provides. Do you feel it is a good idea to go from Sydney to Alice Springs by car and then rent a Camper to Perth?
- We intend to come to Australia for 21 days. If YOU were setting off from Sydney on this drive (after a couple of days to acclimatize) let's say on Day 5, what day would you target to be in Alice Springs on allowing for being in Perth on Day 18? (I am trying to plan the Permits)
I think that is it for the moment. Many thanks again for your top service.
Response To Driving From Sydney To Alice Springs
Hi again Martin,
I'm glad you found my answers to your other question so useful. Unfortunately I can't help you that much with the leg from Sydney to Alice Springs, but let's see what I can do...
- Early hotel check in
All I can suggest here is that you choose your accommodation in Sydney before you get there, and ring or email them to let them know your arrival time. Planes from overseas arrive in Sydney around the clock so I am sure the hotels get that request regularly.
- Is a visa required for Australia?
Australia travel visa information is here. The one you want is the ETA (electronic travel authority). Just follow the link to where you can apply online. It takes you to the government website. Everything you need is there. The service charge is $20.
You don't say which route you plan to take from Sydney to Alice Springs, but if you stick to the normal routes (no detours via adventurous desert crossings) you won't cross any Aboriginal country. You will never leave the bitumen and you certainly need no additional permits.
- Sat Nav to hire like Garmin or Tom Tom
I had to look into this first (I never pay attention to brand names) but from what I've seen you should be able to find both normal cars and also campervans already equipped with GPS satellite navigation. Contacting the hire car companies directly is your best bet here.
- What is the road between Sydney and Alice Springs like?
Again, to some extent it depends which route you take. But in general the south east corner of Australia is very crowded (by my standards), much like what you describe for the US.
But from Adelaide (or rather Port Augusta) onwards you have just the Stuart Highway cutting through the Outback, and along it you find regular roadhouses (very roughly every 150 miles or so). They may look like settlements on the map but all you'll find is a service station...
Coober Pedy is the only town after Port Augusta, and it's about half way between Adelaide and Alice Springs.
- Do you feel it is a good idea to go from Sydney to Alice Springs by car and then rent a camper to Perth?
Actually, yes. That does sound like a very good idea in your case.
This one I can't answer. To start with I really don't know the populated south east corner of Australia that well. There is a lot to see!
Your schedule sounds very tight to me. It's doable, but you will have to bypass many nice places for lack of time. Where to stop and what to skip is too much of an individual decision to give advice here. But those decisions will determine when you will arrive in Alice Springs.
You still have a lot of time to research. The permits you are concerned about are just a formality. You can sort them out when you get here, a few days before you need them.
The only advice I can give you right now is to keep reading and researching. You are crossing a whole continent. The amount of beautiful places to see in Australia is overwhelming, and people have different preferences.
Here are just some of the attractions between Sydney and Alice Springs that you should research to decide how much time, if any, you want to devote to them:
You are driving to Perth so you would visit the MacDonnells/Kings Canyon/Uluru AFTER arriving in Alice Springs. (I suggest that from Alice Springs you travel via Namatjira Drive, Mereenie Loop Road and Luritja Road.)
So before you can determine a target date to be in Alice Springs you need to decide which attractions are the most important to you.
You have to pick the main things you want to see, decide how much time you want to have available there, and then organise the driving around that. You can cover a lot of distance if you just drive, so it really depends on the stops. And those decisions I can't help you with.
On top of that I can't emphasize enough just how little time you have available. Have a good look at the distances involved. You will not have all that much time to stop on the way!
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