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24 February 2013 / leggypeggy

Another road trip—Canberra to the Red Centre

Northern Territory border

Me, Sherry and Poor John at the Red Centre ‘entrance’, Northern Territory

Sherry, a childhood friend from the USA, is visiting Australia for the first-time, so has given Poor John and me a good excuse to load the Subaru with camping gear and water, and head to the Red Centre.

This isn’t just a jaunt. Uluru and Kata Tjuta (which some know better as Ayers Rock and the Olgas) are almost 3000 kilometres from Canberra. We were last there in December 2011, when we travelled overland from London to Sydney.

A lot of people would blanche at the thought of driving 3000 kilometres—especially when about two-thirds of the journey being through scrubby desert—but we are about to make it in three-and-a-half days, with no day being ridiculously long.

So far we’ve had three great camps. Australia has vast expanses of flat, tent-friendly land. Even better, the country is dotted with rest stops and roadhouses that often have space for campers. Plus, we have a great book—Budget Camps and Stops by Paul Smedley—that rates each place and gives full details.

Sunset at Lake Bananee

Sunset at Lake Bananee

The first night we camped near Lake Benanee (which I had never heard of) and were treated to a spectacular sunset. Our second night was at the famous Spuds Roadhouse near Woomera in South Australia (I’ll tell you more about Woomera later). Camping was free and a hot shower was only $2. There was a sign reminding campers to make a donation towards electricity in general, so we chipped in another $1 each. Last night we stayed at Fly Central. Actually we were at the border between South Australia and the Northern Territory—where the flies of the nation gather from dawn to dusk to torment travellers. At least they don’t bite—the flies I mean, not sure about other travellers.

We’ve been here long enough to become a bit philosophical about the flies, but Sherry considers them to be a form of extreme torture. That said, she is getting adept at the Australian salute—the act of waving flies away from one’s face.

Stay tuned for our visits to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and, if time permits, we’ll get to Kings Canyon too. By the way, years ago Australia eliminated all the apostrophes from place names, which explains why there isn’t one in Kings.


Leave a Comment
  1. Robyn / Feb 24 2013 10:42 am

    It sounds like a wonderful trip Peggy with vast landscapes and night skies. I haven’t been that way since 1971 on a school trip when the bus broke down in the desert in the middle of the night and 40 girls had to push start it. I think you are much better prepared. Have fun and I look forward to hearing more. Robyn


    • leggypeggy / Feb 25 2013 5:21 pm

      Thanks Robyn. We’re having a great time. Haven’t had to push the car once. 🙂


  2. Joanne T Ferguson (@mickeydownunder) / Feb 24 2013 11:22 am

    Glad you are continuing to enjoy! There is nothing like the Australia salute to flies worldwide! 🙂
    Doesn’t Sherry have a wooden cork hat by now lol
    Best to all! AWESOME Australian experience and journey! WHOO HOO!


    • leggypeggy / Feb 25 2013 5:22 pm

      Thanks Joanne. I must remind Sherry to get a cork hat.


  3. Kym Duggan / Feb 25 2013 10:16 pm

    Hi Peggy thanks for all of the entertainment you provide on these blogs. Sounds like a wonderful time. Kings Canyon is an amazing place but is not exactly next door to Uluru. Aah the joys of travelling in an exceptional Australian summer! We don’t get to see much of you and poor John these days. Regards Janice and Kym from down the road.


    • leggypeggy / Feb 27 2013 4:36 pm

      Hi Janice and Kym
      So glad you enjoy the blog. I have a lot of fun doing it. We’ll be home soon and we’ll pop round to say hi. Wait till you hear about our next plans.


  4. Sue Daw / Mar 1 2013 4:55 pm

    OMG Peggy. The Centre in mid summer! How COULD you! Are you the greatest philistine of all time?! Please pass on my sympathies to your girlfriend and tell her from me that winter in the Outback is beautifully mild during the day and there is little opportunity to show the great Australian Salute!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 1 2013 5:40 pm

      Sherry wanted to get away from HER winter, so the whole expedition was for her. It was 46°C one of the days we were traipsing through the Red Centre, but we survived.


  5. Manuel / Oct 11 2014 4:51 am

    Hi Peggy,
    Woke up two days ago obsessively thinking if I should take the chance mid November and drive from Canberra to Uluru, guess what? Your blog its adding it. 🙂
    This post its so valuable, encouraging and, I was wondering if you can share some more tips


    • leggypeggy / Oct 11 2014 7:42 am

      So glad you found this helpful—and the trip tempting. I’m very happy to share more tips. Fire away with questions, and I highly recommend you getting a copy of the camping book I mentioned above.


  6. legominifigurestravel / Nov 16 2015 1:15 pm

    The travel bug surely starts to itch again when I see these kind of pictures. Especially when I read about road trips 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 16 2015 3:16 pm

      I love road trips. We’ve done many, including some really long ones. Africa covered 43,000 kilometres in about 11 months.


      • legominifigurestravel / Nov 16 2015 3:20 pm

        That sounds amazing! We hope to do the South American part of the PanAm highway in a couple of years. What is your next destination?


      • leggypeggy / Nov 16 2015 9:29 pm

        Our next destinations are Alaska, Cuba and a bit of Central America, early next year. We did two overlands in South America. Quito to Rio pretty much following the perimeter and then Rio to Lima going across the continent.


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