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The Great Central Rd Guide

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Stuart Highway


Port Augusta to Alice SpRings


The Stuart highway is a gateway to adventure! I really mean it. It connects Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, as well as iconic tracks such as the Canning Stock Route and Len Beadell's famous roads.

Chances are if you’re from the eastern states you have used the Stuart Highway as a gateway to your adventures. The first people to travel the Stuart Highway by car were Harry Dutton and Murray Aunger. In 1907 the lads used a 24 horsepower two wheel drive Talbot. They got stuck near Tennant Creek and had to abandon their car. It was not until the following year the lads made it from Adelaide to Darwin and back.

Still to this day I see cars being abandonned on the Stuart Highway, so much not has changed in that respect but fortunately for us in the 1980’s the last sections of the Stuart Highway were sealed between Port Augusta and the NT Boarder.

The Stuart highway is 2,834km long. I live in Docker River, NT and travel regularly back to Newcastle to see family so I have become well versed in the Southern section of the Stuart Highway (http://www.southaustralia.com/things-to-do/adventure-explorers-way.aspx).

First up I’m going to highlight some of the best places to stop along the Stuart Highway starting at Port Augusta.

Port Augusta: is your last major town and marks the start of the Stuart Highway. Get all your major shopping done here. Fuel is generally really cheap here. I find it has been cheaper then fuel in Newcastle  over the last couple of years.














 

Cadney Homestead: is my next recommended service center. It has a great atmosphere and most importantly decent coffee. I like to support these guys as they are nowhere near as big as some of the other stops on the road and are often overlooked. They make a better meal and better coffee and in general will do more for you then the big boys along the road.

Coober Pedy: I’m quite fond of Coober Pedy as a traveller. Coober Pedy has a great pizza place John’s Pizza and it has reasonable fuel prices. Coober Pedy is set up for travellers. They have facilities to fill up caravan and camper water and it is cheap and good quality water.  Jess and I have run into real issues obtaining water on the Stuart Highway as we free camped our way home. Coober Pedy also has a great kids playground with off-leash area right next to the water filling facilities all of this is easily accessible from the Shell Service Station. It ticks all the boxes for a family like ours. If you’re a beer or wine drinker this is your last place to stock up before Alice Springs. You can buy alcohol from some of the service stations along the Stuart, however expect to pay a premium. The IGA in Coober Pedy is really well stocked and has a great hardware attached to it. On the coffee front. Well let me know if you find anything worth mentioning at Coober Pedy.

 
















Marla: is a big stop with 24/7 facilities. Don’t be fooled into thinking you will get a good coffee here! Mitch Turner and myself traveled through here and were stoked to see signs out promoting the coffee. We tipped it out and made our own! Marla has a great area to sit down on the grass under big shady gum trees. Layla and the dogs love getting out of the car and spending some time here.

Kulgera: Here is where most people will turn off to tackle the Simpson Desert. Kulgera has character. They have a few spare parts and I have found them quite friendly. They have a great looking pub! I have never had a beer there, but it is on my list. There is a massive open fire and I could imagine settling in there for a good night over the winter months.

Erldunda: is the next stop on and again is big with decent services. The accommodation is reasonably priced here and quite okay. The pub puts on a good feed. A note Erldunda does not have any drinking water so it’s all bottled water, which is very expensive. If your going to grab a coffee head to the bar. They make a much better Coffee on the bar side. You can buy emu food from the service station and feed the emu’s which is now a must do for Layla! (Yes a two year old is already dictating our travel plans!). Erldunda is under new ownership and things are changing very regularly.

From Erldunda you’re in striking distance of Alice Springs and of Uluru. If you are heading west to Yulara I would skip Erldunda and head an extra 60km west to Mount Ebeneezer Roadhouse. The fuel is cheaper, the food and coffee is also better and cheaper.

A lot of my trips down the Stuart Highway have been solo trips with Jess and Layla flying home for various reasons. So I have tested out a few Roadside stops that are quite good. If you don’t have it already, get yourself a copy of the Camps Australia wide products!


















Monalena Lagoon Rest Area
102km North of Port Augusta 68km SE of Pimba,

Lake Heart Lookout
42km North Pimba, 71km SE Glendambo

Bon Bon Rest Area

84km North of Glendambo 168km South Coober Peady. This is where I generally make my first night stop when travelling from Docker River to Newcastle. So if you see a Prado Tvan and two dogs come over and say G’day.

The Marryat Rest Area
120km North of Marla, 58 km South Kulgera.

The last Rest Area I’m going to mention is on the Lasseter Highway.

Kernot Range Rest Area
101km West of Erldunda 59km East of Curtin Springs.

All of these and many more can be found in the Camps Australia Wide books.

Enjoy your trip down the Stuart Highway and if you have a good experience anywhere along the Stuart, let us know via facebook, twitter @yourtripright or email brett@yourtripright.com.


Brett Toll