Travel through outback landscapes and historic towns to meet the locals, get back to nature and experience the wonder of the outback sky.
Day 1: Adelaide to Clare Valley
Drive north from Adelaide to the Clare Valley, through picturesque farming country. Clare Valley is one of Australia’s premium wine regions, as well as an important pastoral region. Its oldest vineyard, Sevenhill Cellars, was established by the Jesuits in 1851. Enjoy lunch at Skillogalee, (one of 40 local cellar doors) or Seed Winehouse + Kitchen. Visit the heritage village of Mintaro: its remarkable buildings include the magnificent 19th century mansion Martindale Hall. The Riesling and Rattler Trail is an excellent walking and cycling path, and links many wineries and cellar doors between Auburn and Clare.
Overnight: Clare Valley
Day 2: Clare Valley to Wilpena Pound
Continue north to the Flinders Ranges. Stop in at Melrose, the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, for a meal at the North Star Hotel. Continue to Quorn to ride the Pichi Richi Railway (from April to October). Drive to Wilpena Pound in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, an enormous natural amphitheater, Wilpena Pound offers breathtaking scenery, wildlife and bush walks.
Overnight: Wilpena Pound
Day 3: Wilpena Pound to Port Augusta
On the drive through Parachilna Gorge, a slight detour, you’ll encounter Aboriginal history and wildlife before finding yourself in the wide-open spaces near the famous Prairie Hotel of Parachilna. This is an absolute must-do (unless you’re a herbivore) for its evocative front bar, ‘Feral Platters’ of goat, camel and kangaroo meat. From here you have a choice: Keep heading north deeper into the outback to take on the Oodnadatta Track or return to Port Augusta to take the sealed Stuart Highway. The Oodnadatta Track will take you through the towns of Marree and William Creek and across the world’s largest cattle station. Caution is advised on this route as it is an unsealed road and drivers must be prepared for the conditions.
Port Augusta sits at the head of the Spencer Gulf: it’s your last chance to see some sea for a long time. The crossroads town is home to The Wadlata Outback Centre, and the beautiful Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden.
Overnight: Port Augusta
Day 4: Port Augusta to Coober Pedy
There is a lot to see on this stretch of the Stuart Highway. Stop just south of Woomera for amazing views over Island Lagoon, a salt lake with a distinctive shark’s-tooth of rock. Next stop is Woomera Heritage Centre and Interactive Rocket Range Museum for an unusual chapter in contemporary British and Australian history stories. Coober Pedy barely needs an introduction but is certainly worthy of your time. Marvel at the bizarre opal fields with their cones of excavated dirt.
Overnight: Coober Pedy
Day 5: Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy is Australia’s unique and quirky ‘underground town’ and the largest producer of precious opal in the world. Tour the town and visit underground churches, homes, mines and shops or fossick for opal. Later in the afternoon head to the spectacular landscapes of the Breakaways and watch the sun go down. Stay overnight in underground accommodation.
Overnight: Coober Pedy
Day 6: Coober Pedy to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park or venture home
Travel along the Stuart Highway and detour east of Cadney Roadhouse to The Painted Desert – a spectacular and recently discovered section of the pristine Breakaways country with large rocky outcrop of large and small hills, which emerge suddenly out of a flat desert landscape (three hours return). From here you can choose to continue on to Ayers Rocks or make the return journey home.