Perth To Darwin Via Great Central Road/Uluru
Sandy Track Through The Desert
I am in the early stages of planning a trip from Perth to Darwin via the Great Central Road/Uluru in March 2008. I have visited 40 USA States so am no stranger to driving thousands of miles. I normally simply use a full size hire car (like a Chrysler 300) but feel that Australia would probably require at least a 4WD.
A motorhome is always a possibility but I would rather stay in motels. I see that between Perth and Uluru there are settlements named Northam, Merredin, Southern Cross, Kalgoorlie, Leonora, Laverton, Warakurna and Kaltukatjara. Could you possibly tell me if these settlements have motels or hotels?
Alice Springs to Darwin appears to be a much higher profile highway (on Google Maps it has shields and a lot more settlements) than Perth to Uluru. Is this the case?
What is your opinion of campervan travel through Australia? Would air conditioning be necessary in order to sleep or does it get cold at night in March?
Hope these are not too many questions but I am getting very excited at the prospect of my trip to Australia.
Martin G. Schofield.
Response: Perth To Darwin Via Great Central Road/Uluru
You can never ask too many questions before a trip like that :-). Let me tackle them individually."Alice Springs to Darwin appears to be a much higher profile highway than Perth to Uluru. Is this the case?"
You can't really put it that way. On your way from Perth to Uluru you will pass through many different regions with many different levels of facilities and different quality roads.
The drive from Perth is all bitumen up to Laverton, and most of the "settlements" you mention are sizeable towns with full tourist facilities. You will find many options for accommodation.
The only part of the trip you need to be concerned about is from Laverton to Uluru
."I normally simply use a full size hire car (like a Chrysler 300) but feel that Australia would probably require at least a 4WD."
Australia doesn't require a 4WD. However, there are of course regions where a 4WD will let you see more (get off the beaten track) and there are some roads that do require a 4WD.
The Great Central Road
between Laverton and Uluru
is a sandy track through extremely remote desert country. It is well maintained and, provided the road is dry, can be done in a 2WD. But a 4WD will make the trip a lot safer and more comfortable.
March is the tail end of the wet season, and while that region is not as wet as the north it can get rain that time of the year. Therefore I would definitely recommend a 4WD. Also, be aware that the road may get closed due to wet conditions. (Usually rather happens between Dec - Feb, but there is still a risk of rain in March/April.)"Could you possibly tell me if these settlements have motels or hotels?"
I wouldn't call them motels or hotels, but you can get basic accommodation at the roadhouses: Tjukayirla, Warburton and Warakurna (double check about Warburton, not 100% sure about that one but they definitely have a campground). Kaltukatjara has only campsites.
And, as I already mentioned, up to Laverton and onwards from Uluru you are in the middle of normal civilization with all the usual facilities. With proper planning it's easily possible to do the whole trip without camping."What is your opinion of campervan travel through Australia?"Hiring a campervan
is in my opinion the best way to see Australia, but that's because I love camping and staying in remote places away from all the facilities. If you prefer to stay in motels anyway then it seems like an extra expense that offers no additional benefits."Would air conditioning be necessary in order to sleep or does it get cold at night in March?"
Depends where you are. Darwin is over 3000 km further north than Perth.
You should be ok without air conditioning up to about Mataranka/Katherine. North of that it will still be rather warm and sticky. (Take that advice with a grain of salt. If you are coming from the UK you may find it a bit warm even further south.)Other things to consider:
The Great Central Road passes through Aboriginal lands and you need transit permits
, one from the Western Australian authorities (ALT, apply here
) and one from the Northern Territory authorities (CLC, apply here
). The ALT can request the permit from the CLC on your behalf. The permits are free.
The other thing to keep in mind is that, as I already mentioned, March is the tail end of the wet season. The further north you go the bigger the chances of substantial rains and even flooding. Keep an eye on the road conditions and weather forecasts
, and make sure that you are a bit flexible with your schedule.
I hope that answers all your questions (don't hesitate to use the comments section if you have more) and gives you a good idea of what to expect.Have a great trip!
(And of course we'd love to hear how it went
when you get back :-).)
Photo by Benhamin