Getting there & away
Greyhound Australia (13 14 99, 8952 7888; www.greyhound.com.au; cnr Gregory & Railway Tces) has daily services from Alice Springs.
Backpacker buses cover the distance while savouring sights along the way. Desert Venturer (1800 079 119; www.desertventurer.com.au) makes three-day runs ($340 per person, food kitty $75) between Cairns and the Alice on Tuesday and Saturday. Groovy Grape Getaways Australia (1800 661 177; www.groovygrape.com.au) has a two-day Alice–Adelaide run via Coober Pedy ($165, departs Alice 6am Saturday), plus five- and seven-day camping trips from Adelaide to Alice Springs. The Wayward Bus Touring Company (1300 653 510, 8410 8833; www.waywardbus.com.au) has a 3½-day ‘Just the Centre’ trip ($480 per person, departs noon daily) taking in Kings Canyon, Uluru and Rainbow Valley. It also does an eight-day Alice–Adelaide tour ($980 per person, departs Alice 7am Saturday) and Alice–Darwin in three days ($375 per person, departs 6am Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday).
Alice Springs is a long way from everywhere. From Mt Isa, in Queensland, it’s 1180km; from Darwin to Alice Springs is 1490km (15 hours); and from Alice Springs to Yulara via the sealed Lasseter Hwy is 441km (4½ hours).
These are outback roads, but you’re not yet in the real, outer outback, where a breakdown can mean big trouble. Nevertheless, it’s wise to have your vehicle well prepared, particularly as you won’t get a mobile phone signal outside Alice or Yulara. Carry drinking water and emergency food at all times.
Most of the car-rental companies in Alice Springs have 4WDs for hire. Rentals don’t come cheap, as most firms offer only 100km free a day, which won’t get you far. Prices drop by about 20% between November and April.
Alice Camp ‘n’ Drive (8952 0099; www.alicecampndrive.com) Provides 2WD vehicles fully equipped for camping (swags, sleeping bags etc), with unlimited kilometres.
Avis (8953 5533; www.avis.com.au; Shop 21b, Coles Shopping Complex, Gregory St) Also has an airport counter.
Britz (8952 8814; www.britz.com.au; cnr Stuart Hwy & Power St) Campervans and cars; also at the airport.
Budget (13 27 27, 8952 8899; www.budget.com.au; Shop 6, Capricornia Centre, Gregory Tce) Also at the airport.
Europcar (13 13 90; www.europcar.com.au; 10 Gap Rd)
Hertz (8952 2644; 76 Hartley St)
Outback Auto Rentals (8953 5333; 78 Todd St) Local operator.
In Alice, tickets for the classic, Australia-crossing Ghan can be booked through Trainways (13 21 47; www.trainways.com.au) or Travelworld (8953 0488; 40 Todd Mall). Discounted fares are sometimes offered, especially in the low season (February to June). Bookings are recommended on this popular route.
The train station is at the end of George Cres off Larapinta Dr.