Discover the real Australia

by Rianne Ojeh on 17 February 2014, 11:02AM

“Let any man lay the map of Australia before him, and regard the blank upon its surface, and then let me ask him if it would not be an honourable achievement to be the first to place foot in its centre.” - John McDouall Stuart, explorer and pioneer"

Explorer’s Way is an epic drive along the Stuart Highway extending between Adelaide in South Australia to the Northern Territory’s capital Darwin, passing through some of the most untamed country in Australia along the route of explorer John McDouall Stuart. The 3,016 km outback journey passes from ancient mountain ranges and arid cattle stations of the Barkly region to the impressive Nitmiluk National Park and lush wetlands of the northern tropics.  Explore the fossil laden Flinders Ranges; dig for opals, stargaze, swim with dolphins, hike and spot wildlife, and that’s even before enjoying world class wines and sumptuous cuisine made from the freshest local produce. You will drive past striking natural attractions, historic outback pubs and towns brimming with culture and activity. Along the route, you can see many of Stuart’s ‘discoveries’ including Chambers Pillar, Finke River and Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles).


Start your journey in laid-back Adelaide, which is renowned for its alfresco lifestyle, year round festivals & events and boasts some 700 restaurants. Within 20 minutes you can go from exploring the museums and galleries of North Terrace to walking on soft white sand and swimming with dolphins from the beachside suburb of Glenelg.

As soon as you leave Adelaide, make sure to stop off at the Clare Valley one of Australia’s award-winning wine regions. Revel in the finer things in life with delicious gourmet food and world class wines. Discover more than 40 cellar doors or cycle along the region’s famous Riesling Trail, taking in the natural beauty of the vineyard covered hills and historic stone ruins. The Valley’s rich cultural heritage dates back 160 years and historic towns such as Burra,Watervale, Sevenhill and Mintaro have been preserved in tribute to the 19th century copper miners and early settlers.


Continue on your journey along Explorer’s Way stopping off at The Flinders Ranges. This is not only one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges; it is also recognised as one of Australia’s outstanding national landscapes with Wilpena Pound the diamond on the crown. The Ranges are not only stunning to look at and explore on foot, but they are also home to some incredible 600 million year fossils.


Before your cross the border into the Northern Territory, stop at the frontier town of Coober Pedy, grandly known as the world’s opal capital. You can try your luck noodling (fossicking) or sleepover in an underground hotel if you want a break from your motorhome. While there make sure to branch off to William Creek which is named by Stuart himself. This archetypal outback town with a population of only six is a great place from which to take in the beauty of Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest lake which most of the time is dry.

After a good night’s rest, take a slight detour from the road to visit the world's most iconic monolith, Uluru, and catch a sunset over the mighty red rock and take a walk through Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Find your way back to the highway the next day for sandstone wonder Kings Canyon and enjoy spectacular views across the desert. Then move on to Alice Springs, the Aboriginal art capital of Australia before losing yourself in the chasms and gorges of the West Macdonnell Ranges.


At this friendly hamlet you can brush up on gold rush history at the Tuxworth-Fullwood Museum, while trying your hand at finding your own treasure to take home. Across the valley south of Tennant Creek, the Devils Marbles are a collection of massive granite boulders. Standing at up to 6 metres high and formed over millions of years, they continue to crack and change. Find out about the ancient Aboriginal mythology surrounding this geological marvel on a short self-guided walk around the reserve.


Make your way further north towards the town of Katherine and use it as a base to explore the nearby gorge country of Nitmiluk National Park. Here you can join a cruise downstream, take a helicopter flight or hit the water in a canoe. Relax under starry skies and sink into the popular waterholes of Litchfield National Park before taking a cruise along the Adelaide River spotting the native crocodiles in their natural environmen, as they propel themselves high out of the water to snatch their prey – all from the safety of your boat.


Your final destination is tropical Darwin, where you should enjoy a trip to the multicultural mix at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Or soak up some culture at one of the many Aboriginal art galleries showcasing both emerging and established artists.

To find out more about discovering Australia's Explorer's Way visit

For more information about South Australia or Northern Territory please click the relevant links

Thanks to South Australia Tourism and Tourism Northern Territory for the images.

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