Alice Springs to Katherine in a day?

Submitted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 16:06
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We are driving from Adelaide to Darwin in July. We don't have as long as we'd like for the trip, and want to have a few stops along the way - Coober Pedy, Ayres Rock, Kings Canyon & Alice Springs.

The current timetable has us driving from Alice Springs to Katherine in a day. Given there is nothing we really want to see along the way, is this realistic? It's 1181 km, and from what I remember of the road (from 1981) it's mostly open country - ie not likely to be stuck behind caravans etc for long stretches. There are few towns, and most are small, and the speed limit is 130kph. I've done longer distances in a day before, but I was a bit younger then.

Any input from someone who has driven this road recently would be appreciated.

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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 16:17

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 16:17
Multiple drivers..? You can do it, but you will be very stuffed at the end of the journey and you will spend the next day sleeping it off, so why not break the journey?

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 17:09

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 17:09

There are 2 ways of looking at this sort of travel - as interesting destinations with tedious gaps between them, or as interesting country interspersed with fuel stops. Suggest considering the trip the second way.

If you haven't been that way before, the shear size of the country is a special experience. There are no dramatic sights , just hugeness.

To travel close to 1200 km in a day? Not impossible provided you can share the driving, but travelling at speeds 30% higher than the top speed you're accustomed to, speeds where concentration mustn't lapse for a moment, where the penalty for the tiniest lapse will very likely be death/s..... Not for me thanks.

As already said, it will cost you the following day to recover. I'd be breaking that part of the trip - maybe limit Coober Pedy to a fuel stop if time is very pressing. I'm of mature years (when testosterone gives way to common sense!) and reckon 800 km is a long day (with a relief driver), and only to be attempted when it's urgent to simply burn fuel

Travel safely!



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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 17:30

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 17:30
Yes, it is a long way and what is the point if you can't stop now and again to enjoy the scenery.

We had a stopover at the Devils Marbles, about half way to Tennant Creek and which was a brilliant "sleep under the stars" experience.

I guess everyone has a different perception, but I like to plan a trip that allows for the unexpected "gee, I like this place, why not camp here".

I don't know if you are towing or not, but sitting on 130 kph is not my idea of enjoyable cruising and simply getting from point A to point B often misses the point of travelling.

If I needed to make time, personally I would skip Ayres Rock, but I guess we have the advantage of "been there, done that". Absolutely loved Kings Canyon though and a drive back through the West McDonnell Ranges will give you the desire to linger longer.

Enjoy your trip regardless, but I would break the journey between Alice and Katherine by one night if possible.



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Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 17:55

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 17:55
I agree, there isnt a great deal to see between. We left Kununurra at 0430 one morning and set up camp just nth of devils marbles, I think it was 1600 odd kms.I done all the driving towing our camper trailer.I certinally slept well that night and then drove down to Coober Pedy the next day.And finally a short trip to Morgan the next.
It can be done, you wont see anything but if your on a time limit to get somewhere, sometimes you gotta do it.
BTW, never travelled over 110kph.
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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 18:10

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 18:10
I reckon even with a couple of drivers it's a big, big day. Maybe even a bit on the dangerous side in my opinion. Regardless of multiple drivers, it's a long time to be sitting in a vehicle. As already suggested, make it a two day trip & enjoy the vastness & beauty of the area you are travelling & the companionship of your fellow travellers. Even at two days its a pretty big step in my opinion.

Often, when you choose a rest stop to stretch your legs etc. there will be other travellers doing the same & it is always well worth while striking up a conversation with them. You will find out all sorts of interesting info that is worth while storing away for when planning your next trip. The added bonus at these sorts of stops is just meeting people & sharing your experiences with them. You will meet many top people this way & we always find it enriches our travel experiences. Cheers & happy travelling
AnswerID: 416797

Reply By: Muntoo - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 20:06

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 20:06
Depends on what vehicle your driving and what speeds it can comfortably sit on. 1181kms is not really that hard. I travel 1100kms myself very often with no cruise control and sitting on 110km/h. I do it easy, with a few short stops to stretch and have a bite to eat. If travelling with the missus we do about 1500kms a day, and thats when things begin to get a little silly if you rush too much or get too far behind schedule. Have too just pick a comfortable speed and stick to it, and swap the driving around every couple of hours.

As long as you leave early, and plan to get into Katherine on dark you'll be fine. Sit on 110-120km/h, no need to do 130km, thats just asking for trouble unless you have a sports car or something made for it. We usually stop for half an hour for lunch also on our trips and get in after dark, and also leave when its dark.

Plan to be on the road for about 12-13 hours and you'll be right.
AnswerID: 416813

Reply By: Rockape - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 20:16

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 20:16
if you are used to driving distances 1200k will be fine on those roads.

Keep under 14 hours to stave of fatigue and that includes any stops.

Depending what you are driving will set your speed, if you average 100kph this will let you have some .5 hour breaks.

Just watch out for your witching hours, by that I mean where your body want's to have a seista. Mine is always between 2 to 4 am and 2 to 4 pm.

Have a good trip.
AnswerID: 416814

Reply By: Nigel Migraine - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 21:13

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 21:13
Left The Alice around 8am arrived in Katherine around 7pm (the same day the Olympic torch did) and got the last bed in town at a caravan park but they had run out of bedding so I had to use my own. Long distance driving is one of those things: either you are up for it or you're not and, to be honest, if you have to ask than it's probably best you break the trip.
AnswerID: 416816

Reply By: Member - Brian R (WA) - Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 22:29

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 22:29
sorry fellas, youv'e lost me......have you thought of flying??????

make things a lot safer
AnswerID: 416825

Reply By: Member - David C2 (VIC) - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 00:45

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 00:45
The barra and beef night at the Daly Waters Pub makes a great stop over, just a thought. The thing to think about here Geoff, you are not the only one out there and is what you are risking really worth it?

Happy travels Dave

AnswerID: 416832

Reply By: Dave B ( BHQ NSW) - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 09:38

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 09:38
You don't say how long you are going to stay at each of your stops to relax and unwind a bit.
Adelaide to Coober Pedy and then on to Ayers Rock is about 800 k's each leg.
Then onto Kings Canyon and Alice. Kings Canyon to Alice is another fair drive.
In my opinion, all this driving is going to build up a certain amount of fatigue.

There is no hard and fast rules for when fatigue sets in, but it's going to catch up you regardless.
I assume that you are going to be actively walking around on your stops at the various places, so this also is going to take some toll on the body also.

Another long drive to Katherine on a road that hasn't got a lot to keep you alert apart from the traffic has got the potential for you to perhaps not pay attention to the extent that 110 - 120 KPH deserves.

Break the journey somewhere and by the time you get to Darwin you will still have a life.


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Reply By: nickoff - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:27

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:27
One day, Alice Spings to Darwin is do-able, at an avarage spped of 95Kph. I have done it a few times, with an over night in the Alice and another day to Port Agusta. So if you are used to long distance driving, control your refueling stops and rest breaks it can be done.
What others havn't answered is the other part of the question, other road users.
July is the middle of the peak tourist season, and you will be sharing the road, during the day, with Fritz in his Britz Campa, Mum and dad with the kids with the campatrailer, Gran and Granpa with his Jayco, and assorted others in their hire cars, and not to mention the rolling smoke screens, Wicked vans.
At night, when all the tourist traffic sleeps, the trucks take over. How are you at sharing the roads with 3 and 4 trailer trucks, at 100Kph+?
It can be done, but not without frustration.
Take a break, Banka Banka would be good, meet the other travelers, and enjoy the trip.

AnswerID: 416875

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 12:03

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 12:03
Yeah mate....Alice to Darwin is quite do-able in a day.
It all depends on how many hours you can drive and how fast you travel?
1500km @ 130 Km is around 11.5 hours....add an hour or two for fuels stops and its a long day, but quite possible.
You will be the best judge at saying how fast and far you can travel.

AnswerID: 416882

Reply By: John and Lynne - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 12:44

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 12:44
Is it really worth the risks? That is a fairly average road with a lot of traffic and a lot of drivers who are not necessarily experienced in the conditions and are often overtired. Some are just mad! You need your wits about you. I have heard horror stories from a son in law who's spent time as a policeman along that highway and helping pick up after accidents. Take it slower and try actually enjoying the trip! As others have said, there are some good places to stop or camp and lots to see if you look. Lynne
AnswerID: 416888

Reply By: Steve - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 14:42

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 14:42
That really is pushing it a bit

One thing we often do if we're not up to a big day driving, is, do maybe 9 hours and just make an early start next morning and you can be at your destination early the next day - still giving you a full day there. No last minute arrival and rushing everything - you've got the whole day in front of you.
AnswerID: 416900

Reply By: Member - Michael John T (VIC) - Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 23:27

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 23:27
I'ii be on that road in early July, I hope you are coming after me.. Thats (12-14 hours) is too long to maintain your concentration on the job of driving safely. Please heed what others have said and take a stop over and enjoy the trip.

When in the "centre" include Palm Valley its a great place.

Good travelling,

Mike T.
AnswerID: 416963

Reply By: Member - Barry (NT) - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 21:52

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 21:52
Distance is doable if you are used to it and share driving BUT not enjoyable and if by choice I wouldn't,,, although when young we did 1000Km as routine but less traffic.

Roads are good but risks are stock and roos as you will be travelling at sunrise and sunset to do the distance

we saw pleanty of roos Soth of Mataranka late in the day 2 weeks ago and we bush camped beacause of them (dingoes on road also).

If pushed for time maybe even the trip a bit,,, and ask is it worth the risk to do the distance???

AnswerID: 417073

Reply By: Fab72 - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:30

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:30
Each to their own and with no right answer. Only you know your own physical limits and the limits of your vehicle. Some cars are easier to drive than others, hence less fatigue.

I often do Adelaide to Alice in a day. Head off from Adelaide about 5.00am and roll into Alice at about 7-7.30pm. Sure it's a long day and often leaves me feeling a bit beat up the next day, but it certainly is do-able.

Alice to Katherine is pussy footing stuff compared to the 1684 kms from Adelaide to Alice at 110kmph (legal limit). Especially if you go at 130kmph.

The secret is get a good night sleep the night before, don't head off any earlier than you would on any normal day (I leave for work at 5am normally), don't over eat, drink plenty of water and stop at the first sign of fatigue, even if you just get out for a pee and check the tyres. And make sure you keep the ventilation OFF of recirc. The build up off Carbon monoxide in the cabin from breathing makes people drowsier than you think.

Allow extra time if there is rain forcast, as this will often slow your speeds and takes more concentration thus leading to more fatigue.

AnswerID: 417127

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