The road trip from Perth to Alice Springs is 3’607 km long if you want to drive on well-developed, sealed roads. Since we can also handle difficult 4WD tracks with our Troopy, well-developed roads are not a must for us. On the contrary. We love to drive 4WD tracks and take the roads less traveled to discover the lesser known attractions and places in the outback of Australia.
For the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs we choose the direct route along the Outback Way over the Great Central Road. Thanks to this direct route, we can reduce the distance by about 1’000 km. However, we have to prepare a bit better for this route because only the first part is on sealed roads. From Laverton we drive on unpaved corrugated gravel roads and the red dust penetrates through every ever so small gap into our Troopy. We need different permits, enough supplies, diesel, water and a well-equipped and maintained vehicle for this road trip.
What we experienced on the first third of the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs and what wonderful camp spots we have found, you can read in Reni’s post Road Trip from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
What can you see during the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs
In this post you can read more about the lonely route through the Outback and what we have experienced. From the Super Pit goldmine in Kalgoorlie-Boulder to the ghost town of Gwalia, the endless expanse of the Outback and the lonely red corrugated roads in the Red Center of Australia.
The gigantic Super Pit goldmine in Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the last bigger city to stock up on fresh supplies. On the way from here to Alice Springs, there are only a few small towns and road houses. Since these places are very remote and everything has to be brought from far away, everything is very expensive and we are glad that we have enough space for diesel, water and food. Find out more about the mining town Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the goldmine with the Super Pit in Reni’s blog post.
The sculptures at Lake Ballard form the largest open-air art gallery in Australia
From Kalgoorlie-Boulder we drive along the Goldfields Highway to the north, where we reach the small village of Menzies after 130 km. Here we turn off to the west and after about 60 km we reach the first highlight of our road trip from Perth to Alice Springs. The British artist Antony Gormley has created the largest open-air art gallery of Australia with 51 statues on Lake Ballard. We set up camp right next to the dry salt lake where we enjoy the beautiful light during the sunrise and sunset. You can find more pictures of this installation in our article The Sculptures of Lake Ballard.
The living ghost town of Kookynie
Back on the Goldfields Highway, we continue a little further up north, before we start heading east into the Red Center. Along the way, we take a small detour to visit the ghost town of Kookynie, which dates back to the time of the gold rush in Australia.
Kookynie describes itself as a living ghost town, as there are still a few inhabitants and a hotel in this place. We have a hard time imagining that Kookynie was a vibrant city with 3’500 inhabitants and well-developed infrastructure back in 1907. The Grand Hotel still offers rooms for travelers and at the bar we can still drink an ice-cold beer. A few houses, some ruins and the well-known horse, which is a regular visitor at the hotel, is all we see along the streets.
Outside of Kookynie there is Niagra Dam. This dam is not as impressive as the Niagara Falls in the US, but when you consider that the dam was built in 1897 to store water for the town of Kookynie and the steam locomotives, it is worth visiting.
Leonora is the last outpost along the Goldfields Highway
250 km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder we reach Leonora on the Goldfields Highway. This is the last town before we leave the highway and turn east towards the Great Central Road. But first we explore the nice town a little more and look at the beautiful buildings that have survived from the time of the gold rush. Just outside of town we also find a beautiful camp spot at Malcolm Dam. The water in the dam has almost dried up, but a little bit still remains. We like the place so much that we stay for two days.
The ghost town of Gwalia fascinates us
Only a few kilometers south of Leonora we visit the ghost town Gwalia. This place is extremely fascinating and we are very surprised how well some of the abandoned houses of the former mining workers are preserved. The feeling while strolling through the abandoned buildings and seeing how the houses and cottages were built from the few basic materials available is unique. We are so excited that we wrote a separate article about the ghost town of Gwalia and we also cut a short video.
After Laverton we drive on unpaved gravel roads
Laverton is the last town before we drive along the unpaved Great Central Road through the large Victoria desert. Laverton is not particularly attractive and so we only have a short stop in the Visitor Center before we continue.
The deeper we are driving into the desert, the more colorful the landscape becomes. We haven’t expected such a colorful landscape on our journey through the desert. Because this year’s winter was very long, cold and rainy, the plants still have enough water and the nature is very lush. We see whole fields of wildflowers, which stand in stark contrast to the red sand of the desert.
This makes the trip along the Great Central Highway very colorful. Again and again we have to stop to admire the wildflowers and take photos.
Delicious cappuccino at Tjukayirla Roadhouse
There is not a lot of traffic along the Great Central Road. The gravel road is in good condition and so the ride is very pleasant. We are very lucky with finding beautiful camping spots like the one at Giles Breakaways. At this rocky breakaway, where we camp on a plateau, we have a fantastic view over the countryside and it’s a wonderful office too.
Every few hundred kilometers we are passing one of the roadhouses and that is always a welcome change after long hours of driving. We like the Tjukayirla Roadhouse and we even treat ourselves to a Cappuccino. For such a remote roadhouse, the Cappuccino is amazingly good and we enjoy the break from driving.
Roadhouses along the Great Central Road offer basic supplies
Other roadhouses on the Western Australian side are at Warburton and Warakurna. On the Northern Territory side, the Docker River Roadhouse is just after the border. Fortunately, we have two diesel tanks in our Troopy and we are not dependent on the expensive diesel at the roadhouses. If you have to refuel along the way, these roadhouses are very handy. They also sell basic supplies; you can use the toilets and get information about road conditions. In an emergency, they can help and often carry out minor repairs.
The border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory
The border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory is unspectacular. There is a big road sign and without it, we wouldn’t have noticed the border crossing. In the meantime, we have traveled 2’000 km on the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs. From the border it’s only about 700 km to Alice Spring if you take the direct route.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
From the border it’s about 200 km until we reach the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Coming from the west, we first see the Olgas (Kata Tjuta). It is an incredible sight after the long journey through the barren deserts.
Suddenly the huge rock formations of the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) appear on the horizon and with each kilometer we travel, they become bigger and bigger. What we experience and seen in the park with its well-known rock formations, you can read in our blog post The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The Rim Walk is a great walk around Kings Canyon
Now there are two possibilities. Either you drive directly to Alice Springs or take a little detour to Kings Canyon and through the West MacDonnel Ranges on the way to Alice Springs. We actually planned this detour but since we have a problem with a tire, we change plans and will directly drive to Alice Springs to solve the problem.
A detour to Kings Canyon and trough the West MacDonnel ranges is well worth the effort and we can highly recommend the attractions along the way. Read more about the impressive Rim Walk in the Kings Canyon.
The gorges in the West MacDonnell Ranges
If you take the detour to Kings Canyon, you can continue along the Mereenie Loop Road through the West MacDonnell Ranges to Alice Springs. For the Mereenie Loop Road you need a permit, but you can buy at different places along your way.
The West MacDonnell Ranges offer impressive nature and some very nice walks. If you want to know more about the attractions along the way, you can find more information in our post Road Trip in the Red Center.
Alice Springs in the middle of the Red Center of Australia
We have driven over 2’500 km to get from the West Coast through the Outback to Alice Springs in the heart of Australia. Alice Springs is relatively big and there is everything our heart desires after the long drive through the Outback. We are modest and happy with small things so we treat ourselves to a nice cappuccino at the 27 Pages Café.
We liked the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs a lot and found it very interesting. We have been very lucky with the camp spots we found, and we are amazed by the diverse nature and the interesting places we have seen on the way. The timing was very good and the blooming wildflowers were really beautiful to see.
If you decide against a road trip from Perth to Alice Springs and prefer to fly, we have put an itinerary for a 2 weeks Road Trip from Alice Springs together.
Tips for the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs
- Permission from Western Australia (Department of Indigenous Affairs)
- Permission from Northern Territory (Central Land Council)
- Do inspect and maintain your vehicle thoroughly
- Fill up fuel, oil and other liquids of your vehicle
- Stock up on food and make sure you carry sufficient water
- Let families and friends know about your travel plans
Do you need a rental car?
You are looking to rent a car for your trip? Our friend Nina wrote a great post about her experience with renting a 4×4 in Perth. Check out her review about 4WD camper hire.
Another interesting road trip in Australia
From Alice Springs we drove South. Read more about the Road Trip from Alice Springs to Adelaide – A trip that’s all but boring
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Have you done the road trip from Perth to Alice Springs? What were the most beautiful places you have visited along the way? Which other road trips in Australia can you recommend to us and our readers? Let us know your favorite and leave a comment.