Stuart Highway: The Smooth Road to the Rough Outback

The Stuart Highway — also known as ‘Explorer’s Way’ — is a wide highway surrounded by arid lands in Central Australia all the way to the tropical Top End. Located between Port Augusta and Darwin, the famous highway was named after John McDouall Stuart, the first explorer to discover a route through Australia’s inland in the 1800s.

At present, the track doesn’t follow Stuart’s original route anymore in the southern section, but that won’t make you miss any of the highway’s gems.

Enter the Road to the Multifaceted Beauty of Australia

The Stuart Highway is your gateway to the red centre and famous tourists spots in the Outback. It intersects towns like Alice Springs, Katherine, Coober Pedy and Woomera, as well as the cities of Adelaide and Darwin (found at the start and end of the road).

The modern Stuart Highway begins in Port Augusta, which is 305 km north of Adelaide. Venturing to this highway exposes you not only to different cultures, but also varying weather conditions — the estimated distance of the Adelaide-Darwin trip is around 3016 km, which is a long drive through the different climate zones of Australia.

What to Expect on Your Stuart Highway Adventure


If you’re planning a road trip, you’ll be happy to know that the Stuart Highway has a lot to offer wherever you look. You’ll notice the changing landscape and scenery the farther you go. As  you approach the Tropic of Capricorn (which is a landmark in itself for being one of the five major circles of latitude that divides the Earth), tufts of grass begin to replace the saltbushes and other desert plants, and wedge-tailed eagles begin to appear on the area.

Outback travellers also rave about the highway’s smooth track and open limits, making it safer and easier to travel. Some even skip flights to the towns linked to the road just so they can have the Stuart Highway experience!

There are different tourist routes that you can take to get from Adelaide to Darwin — you can take the Port Wakefield Road, Clare Valley or Flinders Ranges. Upon reaching the end of the fascinating Stuart Highway, you’ll find yourself at the Northern Territory Border, which is pretty close to Alice Springs. At this point, you may want to take a rest before crossing the border.

Finding a Place to Stay Along Stuart Highway

Since driving through the Stuart Highway is a rewarding yet incredibly long journey, you should recharge first to avoid the travel fatigue. Give yourself time to unwind before deciding on your next itineraries by visiting Erldunda, conveniently situated on the corner of Stuart Highway and Lasseter Highway. Enjoy a relaxing evening where you can eat and sleep in our comfortable and secure roadhouse.

Make life long travelling memories and take a trip along the Stuart Highway. Contact us at the Erldunda Roadhouse to know all the tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss.


Dreamtime in Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta is one of the most iconic representations of Australia. Its majestic beauty and rich Aboriginal history continues to make it one of the most prized tourist stops in Northern Australia year after year.

If you’re looking to add an educational aspect to your Northern adventure, let us tell you about the beautiful stories that the Kata Tjuta carries within it.

Kata Tjuta


“Kata Tjuta” is a Pitjantjara word meaning “many heads”, a pretty accurate description of the terrain: 36 conglomerate domes covering an area of 21.68 sq. km. The sandstone domes are composed predominantly of basalt, granite, and volcanic rock fragments (quartz and microcline) formed over the course of 500 million years. The Kata Tjuta is sacred to the Anangu people, who have inhabited the area for 22,000 years.

The Kata Tjuta is also known as “The Olgas” — named after Queen Olga of Württemberg in 1872 by the Australian explorer Ernest Giles. In 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names consisting of both the Pitjantjara name and the English name, Mount Olga / Kata Tjuta. However a petition from the regional tourism association successfully lobbied for the naming order to be reversed. Resulting in the traditional Indigenous name ‘Kata Tjuta’ being predominant.

The Dreamtime


Aboriginal Australian mythology is composed of different stories and characters that recur in different groups across Australia. The web that connects all of these elements together is the Dreamtime: a place beyond time, where all of Aboriginal ancestral figures — heroes, supernatural creatures — reside. The Dreaming is the domain of all beginnings; the place where, as Aboriginals believe, creation began.

So what are the stories that the Anangu tell about the Kata Tjuta?

One legend depicts the Kata Tjuta as the home of the giant snake called Wanambi — the Dreamtime figure responsible for the formation of gullies, rivers and billabongs. According to legends, Wanambi stays curled up in a waterhole in the highest peak during the rainy season, and crawls down to the gorge during the dry season. The dark lines on the side of the rocks are believed to be his beard, and the wind that blows through the gorge, his breath — gentle breezes on some days, huge hurricanes when he’s angry.

The domes on the Eastern side are identified as the mice women; the two large rocks near the end of the peak are said to be the food they’re about to eat. A pillar on the Eastern side is known as the kangaroo-man Malu, dying in the arms of his sister Mulumara.

Some of the domes are believed to be Pungalunga men — giants that fed on aborigines. Once, it was said that a Pungalunga ate the wives of two hunters, who then decided to kill it. One man acted as a decoy, while the other speared it in the back. The Pungalunga died in Kuniula Cave, near Mulara Springs.

Every part of the Kata Tjuta is filled with significant stories such as this — stories that demonstrate Australia’s rich aboriginal culture, as well as humanity’s inherent penchant for creating and telling stories. The more extensive versions of these mythologies are not particularly disclosed to outsiders.

Visiting Kata Tjuta


However, if you’re planning on visiting Kata Tjuta, you’re still in for a rich cultural treat. Choose between the 2.6-kilometre Walpa Gorge walk or the 4-hour, 7-kilometre Valley of the Winds walk. The former is the easier choice, ideal for beginners — a quick tour around the place. The latter is more challenging, but the walk will take you in between the domes, through creek beds and to the Karu and Karingana lookouts.

The perfect time for these walks is during the morning, when the weather is more mellow, the crowd is smaller, and the wildlife is more active. Remember, though: during December – February, temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees Celcius. Walks are closed during these hot summer days.

To make the most out of your cultural foray to Kata Tjuta, visit the Uluru – Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre! The perfect ending to your Kata Tjuta visit? Standing on the viewing deck, watching the domes change colours as the sun set: from shades of brown to deep shades of red, and remembering, with the shifting of the shadows, the stories of snake-kings and mice women living within its midst.

The Erldunda Roadhouse is a mere 200km away from the majestic Kata Tjuta — the perfect place to stay in and relax before the Kata Tjuta walks!

Why Erldunda Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

Erldunda: the centre of the centre. Placed smack dab in the middle of Australia, and perfectly so: it has a little bit of everything that makes Australia the exciting destination that it is. Culture, history, wildlife, and activities — in Erldunda, these are experiences that would make for a lifetime’s worth of memories.

At the core of anyone who wants to visit the Outback is an adventurer on the lookout for a new experience – and in Erldunda, there is something in store for every kind of traveller.

A Cultural Excursion

Erldunda is a hodgepodge of culture, home to a lot of different aboriginal cultures. Some of the groups that reside close to Erldunda are the speakers of the Luritja dialect otherwise known as the Matuntara. They live in the parallel sand dune county by Palmer River south of the Levi Range, east to Erldunda. The aboriginal boundaries between the different groups in the area is a relative, colourful blur of traditions, beliefs, and cultures interweaved. “The history of the Matuntara is complicated by their absorption of much of the Maiulatara horde of the Pitjandara who shuffled east from north of the Petermann Range to Tempe Downs in the early years of the century,” according to the South Australian Museum.

This interweaving of cultures resulted to a beautiful array of artworks and lore — one that would excite someone who’s looking to learn more about history through culture. The aboriginal groups of Erldunda have some pretty wonderful stories to tell: stories of dreaming, creation and adventure.

Erldunda: Picture Perfect

Sunset viewing platform

Looking for sceneries that would take your breath away and places that would make for beautiful pictures regardless of where you point your camera?

Erldunda is in close proximity to the home of Uluru and Kuta Tjuta, a picturesque sandstone monolith 348 metres high — and Australia’s most recognizable natural icon.

Take a picture of it in its entirety and capture the feeling of smallness. In its vastness, it bears various inscriptions made by ancestral indigenous peoples. It is a beautiful sight that is worth capturing both in panorama and close up — a literal wall on which people of the past have left their marks saying “I was here”.

Another picture perfect scenery close to Erldunda is the Devil’s Marbles. The “marbles” are stones — varying in size, from 50 centimetres up to six metres across — balanced precariously on top of one another: one of nature’s longest-standing gravity defying stunt.

Watch the rocks change colour at sunset — a glowing play of pink, orange and bright red. It’s mesmerizing, but don’t forget to take a photo!

Onsite at the roadhouse we have a brand new Sunset Viewing Platform! Located next to our caravan park this platform allows you to take in amazing sunset views in the heart of the desert!

Wildlife Wonders

Australia’s Northern Territory is home to about 400 species of birds, 150 mammals, 300 reptiles, 50 frogs, 60 species of freshwater fish and several hundred species of marine fish. One of the most unique species of wildlife in the area are the crocodiles that live in the rivers and billabongs in the Top End or at wildlife parks across Darwin.

Stop by Erldunda to rest, then drive on north for a cruise in Yellow Water in Kakadu National Park. See crocodiles, wild horses, and other wildlife in their natural habitat!

A proof of the diversity of the wildlife in Erldunda? We at Erldunda Roadhouse have an Emu Reserve right in our own backyard. Get up close and personal with these adorable birds. They’re so friendly, you might even get to take a selfie!

Get Going — Boat Race

Boat race

A boat race that happens on land? It exists. The Henley-on-Todd Regatta is an annual “boat” race held in the very dry, sandy bed of the Todd River in Alice Springs. The “boats” are made from metal frames and hung with banners and advertisements, and teams of “rowers” run their boats in races through the hot sand. “Rowers” also compete in washtubs, hamster wheels and modified trucks with flour bombs and water cannons aimed at their opponents, and at the (ostensibly laughing and shrieking) audience.

Erldunda has plenty to offer travelers of all sorts – it’s a place filled with surprises, if one knows where to look.

Erldunda Roadhouse is the perfect stay-in place for adventurers seeking to explore Erldunda and nearby places. The place is a convenient base for adventurers to wind down after a long day of travel. If you want to know more about the experiences that Erldunda has to offer, contact us. We’ll be more than happy to show you around!