Stuart Highway is an iconic Aussie Trip, a very long drive through the different climate zones of Australia. The highway, known as "the Explorer's Way" is one of Australia's major highways, running north to south through the middle of Australia. It’s one of the Australian longest roads.
The road is 2,834 km (1,761 mi) long and links Darwin (Northern Territory) and Port Augusta (South Australia), via Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. The road is asphalted. The experience of using this road is very impressive. It spans a vast magnificent country of arid lands in the south via Central Australia to the tropical Top End. The highway is often referred to simply as "The Track".
Who is the Stuart Highway named after?
It’s named after Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart who, in 1862, became the first man to successfully cross Australia from south to north and make it back alive, but the modern track doesn't follow Stuart's original route in its southern parts.
How long does it take to drive the Stuart Highway?
The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities here. Don’t forget your camera! The Stuart Highway is one of the major Australian tourist attractions, an epic journey of almost 3.000 kms. It’s bitumen all the way and intersects interesting towns like Woomera, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs and Katherine. The cities Adelaide and Darwin at either end of Highway provide lots to see and do. The Royal Flying Doctor Service uses the highway as an emergency landing strip and sections of the highway are signed to that effect. These sections of highway have been specially selected and prepared for the landing of aircraft which only takes place after the piece of road has been closed by the police. To drive the highway allow 7 days minimum. Then, budget additional days for stops along the way.
Is the Stuart Highway dangerous?
Due its unique location and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. Check weather forecasts before leaving home. There are services around every 200km along the highway, but not all are open 24hours. In many cases you will have to plan your trip so arrive at fueling stops when they are open. A good idea is to get fuel at every truck stop you see - this will ensure that you have enough to get to your next stop. The highway sees regular traffic at all hours, however it pays to make sure you have some food and drinking water if you happen to get stranded. Extreme temperatures are possible in summer, and temperatures overnight can also drop to near freezing. Between Darwin and Pine Creek it is said to be the most dangerous stretch of highway in the nation.