Cairns to Alice Springs Road Trip – 5 Must Stay Stops

Cairns to Alice Springs Road Trip
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Cairns is the gateway to the magnificent Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. This is a beautiful city in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. On the other hand, the third largest town in Australian Northern Territory is Alice Springs. You can arrange a Cairns to Alice Springs road trip if you have enough time in hand.

Cairns to Alice Springs distance is 1452 miles. To cover this distance, you have to drive non-stop for one day and 3 hours. On this route, there are 30 more cities or attractions that you can visit on the way on your road trip. 

Now to cover all these tourist attractions from Cairns to Alice Springs, you should make an itinerary of at least 3-5 days. If you can arrange one week for your trip that will be better. However, if you have in a rush and don’t have enough time to research, you can go through this itinerary. 

This guide will help you to develop a complete outline of when you should start your journey and which spots you should cover. So, keep going through this guide. Happy reading!

Cairns to Alice Springs Road Trip: Itinerary, Distance, Drive Time & Attractions

Bus Distance 3 Days 20 Hours 
Train 3 Days 22 Hours 
Drive / Car Distance 24 Hours 13 Minutes 
Stops 30 Stops 
Nearest Airport Townsville (TSV)

The direct line distance between Cairns to Alice Springs is 901.04 miles. The drive distance between these two destinations is 2337 KM or 1452 miles.

Under normal traffic, the direct drive time between these two routes is about one day and 3 hours. Along the way to this destination, there are 30 stops of cities or attractions.

After researching, we have compiled a great itinerary for your Cairns-Alice Spring trip. And we also included information on all the great stops between these two ends.

If you want to enjoy all the beauty, cities, and attractions along the way to Alice Springs from Cairns, plan for at least 3-5 days. Even a week will be better for visiting all the places. 

We bet you will leave with a big smile and incredible memories once you see all these places.

You can also read: Adelaide to Sydney Road Trip

Cairns to Camooweal

On the first day, start your journey from Cairns as early as possible and then drive to the following destinations:

Mary Kathleen Queensland
Mary Kathleen, Queensland- Wikimedia Commons

Starts your journey from Cairns and drive for about 14 hours and 19 minutes along the National Route to cover the 1356 KM distance. The drive time can be approximately 15 hours and 28 minutes, depending on the traffic. By road, the Cairns-Camooweal distance is 843 miles, including the motorways of 2 miles.

At the Queensland-Northern Territory border of Australia, the Camooweal is located. Proudly this city declares itself as the Northern Territory or Queensland Gateway. Camooweal offers you to do greater things here. While in Camooweal, you must visit the Drovers Camp, and you will learn many stories.

If you are a history enthusiast and want to learn about the history of Australia, then don’t miss visiting the Drover Statue. This place is the pots of monuments, statues, interests, and landmarks. Adventurous people enjoying nature and wildlife can visit the Camooweal Caves, National Park.

Once you arrive at Camooweal, this city will surprise you. You can add great detail about this place by visiting its great attractions. Some more attractive places are Lawn Hill George, Lake Moondarra, Mount Isa Rodeo, etc. Also, you can go to the Mary Kathleen, Underground Hospital and Museum, Freckleton’s store, Camooweal Cemetery, etc.

Stay Over Night at Camooweal

After driving for nearly 15 hours, you will reach Camooweal at night from Cairns. So the recommendation is to stay overnight in this city. Driving at night is unsafe, and neither you will able to visit any of the places. Therefore take a break and stay at Camooweal at night. And leave this place the next day after seeing some of its tourist attractions.

To stay in Camooweal, you can get the best accommodation deals by researching its hotels and restaurants. There is no lack of spots to stay in this city. You can stay at night at Adels Grove, Camooweal Billabong, Camooweal Roadhouse, etc. Other options include the Post office hotel, Dorsett Gold Coast, Palazzo Versace, etc.

The cost of staying in the hotel is not much. Moreover, almost all the hotels provide a free parking facility for your vehicle.

Camooweal to Tablelands

After a good night’s stay and visiting the best places, it’s time to leave Camooweal.

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Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park,| Flickr

311 KM is the distance between Camooweal and Tablelands in Australia. While travelling one way via car, the road distance is 402.5 KM. Along the National Route, you need to drive for 12 hours and 54 minutes to reach Tablelands from Camooweal. Tablelands is a beautiful place in Queensland. Here you can do several things.

You can immerse yourself in the rainforests, waterfalls, and other natural wonders of Northern Queensland. Visit the Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls and Rainforest and admire the untouched natural scenery. Visiting here will allow you to swim in the Josephine Falls and the famous Millaa Millaa.

To explore the amazing wildlife, lush beauty, and rich heritage of Queensland, you can visit the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Moreover, you can choose to do different activities here, including visiting the Rainforestation Nature Park and Tjupakai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Also, you can go to the local market and hang out with the exotic birds and koalas.

Another spot you shouldn’t miss to visit is the Atherton Tablelands Waterfalls. Visit this waterfall and experience the natural wonders of the Tablelands. If you love adventure, the obvious things to do in Tablelands are snorkelling and diving cruises in the Great Barrier Reef.

Also, some more places to visit in Tablelands are the Green Island, Sunflower Reef Cruises, Fitzroy Island trip, etc.

Stay Overnight at Tablelands

After visiting some great places in Tablelands obviously, you will become tired. In this situation, driving to another destination is not wise, especially at night. So, the recommendation is to night stay in Tablelands and sleep well. Then the next day, early in the morning, leave this place for your next destination.

Several accommodations options are available in Tablelands. So, don’t worry about where you will stay at night. Here we are telling you some of the hotel names which provide the accommodations facilities to their guests.

Some options are Atherton Hinterland Motel, Nightcap at Atherton Hotel, and BIG4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park. Again, you can stay at the Atherton Motel or the Atherton Blue Gum B & B. Both luxury hotels and normal hotels are available. So you can stay in anyone that matches your budget.

Some hotels allow you to book online at a relatively cost-effective price within your budget. Moreover, you don’t need to pay any reservation costs while booking the hotel. And one more plus point is the free parking facility is available on almost every hotel premises. So if you have your car don’t think about its parking facility.

Tablelands To Tennant Creek

So, on day 3, your journey to Alice Springs will start from the Tablelands. After enjoying your beautiful night’s stay and visiting Tablelands, it’s time to leave this place. Early in the morning, pack your bag and step forward for another destination.

Tennant Creek Jurnkkurakurr
Tennant Creek Jurnkkurakurr.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

On day 3, your first stop from Tablelands is Tennant Creek. You must drive along National Highway 66 for 2 hours and 12 minutes to cover the 210.7 KM. You must break your journey at Tennant Creek along your Cairns to Alice Springs trip.

Tennant Creek is a great place to visit. This city is especially famous for producing gold. During the 1930s, this city was the third-largest gold producer in the country. While staying here, you must visit the Battery Hill Mining Centre, Lake Mary Ann, and Nyinkka Nyunyu Art & Culture Centre. Lake Mary Ann is the habitat of lots of birds. Here you will see the peacocks and other birds near the desert peas.

A great point of interest and landmark for visitors is the Tennant Creek Telegraph station. It’s a historical site and the best option for history lovers. You can do that if you want to enjoy a horse ride in Tennant Creek. Visit Kelly’s Ranch to enjoy the horse riding experience.

A unique geologic formation in Tennant Creek is Kundjarra (The Pebbles). You will surely enjoy your visit through the mini devil’s marbles of Kundjarra. This geologic formation is very special for the aboriginal people of this city. Along with all these, some more visiting attractions are the John Flynn Memorial Obelisk, Bill Allen Lookout, Barkly Regional Arts, etc.

Tennant Creek to Central Australia

CSIRO ScienceImage 4247 Ayers RockUluru in central Australian desert Northern Territory 1992
Ayers RockUluru in central Australian desert Northern Territory – Wikimedia Commons

After staying and visiting Tennant Creek now, it’s time to move to another destination, Central Australia. Central Australia makes a great stop during your epic outbreak Alice Spring road trip. You must drive along the Stuart Highway A87 for 5 hours and 5 minutes to reach your destination. The driving distance between Tennant Creek and Central Australia is 508.2 KM.

Red Centre is another well-known name in Central Australia. This inexactly defined region is another place to visit along your Alice Springs journey. There are lots of incredible places that you can see here. 

Central Australia is truly rich in art, culture, and history. Whatever your interest is, from the Aboriginal creation to the ancient geology and natural wonders, everything is available here. Visit the Gorge Hopping and enjoy swimming in the oldest river in the world. 

To see the iconic outback township birthplace visit the Alice Spring Telegraph Station. You will learn about the Overland Telegraph Line construction history by staying here. To get an overview of significant geological events and regions, we recommend you visit the Museum of Central Australia. 

On your travel, you will surely see many local birds and animals by visiting the nearby forest. Also, there are other interpretive centres, museums, and galleries in Red Centre. Some are the Central Craft, Central Australian Aviation Museum, Araluen Arts Centre, etc.

Central Australia to Alice Springs

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Alice Springs. Desert botanic gardens with the MacDonnell … | Flickr

Finally, drive again from Central Australia to visit your dream destination, Alice Springs. You will reach Alice Springs by driving for about 1.5 hours from Central Australia. Alice Springs is a beautiful place rich in history. This city will keep you enthralled for hours. It’s well worth visiting this city in Australia.

Why is Alice Springs Famous?

Alice Springs is a lively and thriving place to visit. This city is a small town, and only 25,000 people live here. It’s famous for contemporary, local, and traditional art, museums, historical places, and many more. 

The beautiful gardens, scenic bushwalking trails, and many historic buildings offer visitors to enjoy tremendous natural beauty. However, Alice Spring is famous especially for the following places:

  • Alice Springs Desert Park
  • Anzac Hill
  • The Kangaroo Sanctuary
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum
  • The Larapinta Trail
  • Alice Springs Reptile Centre
  • Finke George National Park
  • Telegraph Station Historical Reserve
  • Alice Springs Camel Tour
  • Olive Pink Botanic Garden etc


How to get from Cairns to Alice Springs?

You can get to Alice Springs from Cairns in different ways like car, bus, and plane.

What is the best month to visit Alice Springs?

March to May or autumn is the best time to visit the beautiful Alice Springs in Australia. From March to May, the days remain warm, and the nights are cool. And 12 – 27 degrees Celsius is the average temperature limit.

Is it worth staying in Alice Springs?

Yes! Visiting and staying in Alice Springs is worth enough. In fact, you can see many places here beyond the Canyon and Uluru.

Final Words

The only aim of developing a guide on the Cairns to Alice Springs road trip is to make your journey easier. Before starting your journey, getting a full itinerary with a complete plan of visiting all the attractive places will be better for you. 

While visiting Alice Springs from Cairns, ensure you have enough time. And don’t miss any spot that we mentioned in this article. 

However, if you have any queries, let us know by commenting in the comment box. Soon we will reply to you.

Hi, I'm Md Abid Hasan. The owner & content editor of is a travel blog that covers road trips, day trips, and destinations guide.

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