Getting off the beaten track from Alice Springs

Image Source: Tourism NT/Sean Scott

When you want to get away from it all with a bit of four-wheel driving, Alice Springs is the perfect base from which to explore the arid landscape of Australia’s heart. Whether it’s a short trip away off the seal, or for some more hardcore 4WD exploration, there are so just so many destinations on offer.

A popular short trip is the run out to explore the historic buildings at Arltunga and then continuing on to Ruby Gap Nature Park. Along the way there are plenty of places to stop at throughout the East MacDonnell Range.

The main Palm Valley section of Finke Gorge National Park does require a 4WD for the last 16km of access. But, when you are really looking for something more challenging, head south down the ancient Finke River to the quieter part of this park. After a sidetrip out to Illamurta Springs, hit Ernest Giles Rd for a visit to Henbury Meteorite Craters before looping back up the highway.

Another fairly easy run is the rough dirt access road to Rainbow Valley. Although there isn’t a lot of 4WD challenge on this trip, the magnificent red and ochre-coloured sandstone of this striking landform still makes it a favourite destination. If you want a bit more adventure, then throw in the track to Chambers Pillar before heading back.

A nice run with some relaxing spots for bush camping too, is the historic Owen Springs Reserve. Again, its proximity to Alice Springs makes it another popular short trip.

One for the bucket list though is definitely following the Old Ghan line south, past the rock carvings at Ewaninga and relics of the railway, to Finke to head down to Mt Dare for a trek across the Simpson Desert.

Then there are those other long-haul trips, like a run up the Tanami Road to the Kimberley, or taking on the Binns Track to head north to Judbarra/Gregory National Park. When you are in the mood for some desert scenery even take on the Gary Junction Road.