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The Ernest Giles Track - An Epic Kings Canyon Adventure

If you’ve never heard of it, the Ernest Giles Track is an adventurer’s dream, snaking its way through the desert of Central Australia. 100km of unsealed, red dirt road through majestic scenery and stretches of emptiness as far as the eye can see. If you’re not an avid 4WD driver, you will be after taking one along this incredible stretch of road.

The road itself is located about 110km south from Alice Springs and you can get onto it from the Stuart Highway. The track connects the Stuart Highway on the east, and Luritja Road on the west, making it a 'short cut' to getting from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon. Taking the Ernest Giles Track will cut off about 245km of your travel distance if you were travelling via the sealed roads only.

Even though the Stuart Highway itself is a sealed and well kept road, you’ll most definitely not want to take on the Ernest Giles Road with anything but an AWD or 4WD vehicle. You’ll also want to be cautious of not driving too fast or losing the road. Given it’s unsealed and the desert has a habit of shifting, the quality of the road changes throughout the year, so it pays to always be careful. That being said, if you are careful and take it at a suitable pace, there are plenty of incredible sites to see along the way.

The Ernest Giles Track Map and Facilities

Outstanding Landmarks

Along the Ernest Giles Track there are numerous landmarks and points of natural beauty which you’ll want to check out. These are just a couple:

Henbury Meteorites

Located just 8km off the Stuart Highway, this is an attractive stop even if you aren't doing the Ernest Giles Track. You mightn’t think it, but the desert off Ernest Giles Track has been an important part of meteorological studies globally.

Within the Henbury Meteorite Conservation Reserve are 12 craters formed by meteorite impact some 4,700 years ago! You can leave the car when you get to the reserve and you’ll find few different walking tracks to follow and explore. This is a definite recommendation as it gives you a real understanding of just how big the meteor strike was. 

Finke Gorge National Park & Boggy Hole 

Located south-west of Alice Springs is the stunning Finke Gorge National Park, home to an array of wildlife and beautiful flora. But what draws most attention to this spot is the renowned 4WD location, fondly known as ‘Boggy Hole route’, a stretch of road home to a billabong which serves as a unique route connecting Larapinta Drive to the Ernest Giles Track - just be careful you don’t get bogged!

Illamurta Springs Conservation Reserve

If you’re looking for place that’s a little more ‘placid’ than the harshness of the open desert, Illamurta Springs is worth a visit. Its permanent natural spring and location at the foothills of the James Range make it the perfect grounding place for a plethora of animal and plant life. But if you do plan on visiting, be careful as the roads are strictly 4WD only and are subject to unstable conditions. 

Petrol Stations and Stores

Fill-up your fuel tank and buy plenty of water and supplies at Alice Springs or Kings Canyon, before setting off on the Ernest Giles Track. The journey from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon via the Ernest Giles Track is approximately 330 kilometres. Fuel and limited supplies are available in Alice Springs or Stuarts Well on one side, and Kings Creek Station or Kings Canyon Resort on the other side. There is no stops along the actual Ernest Giles Track.

Always pack enough fuel, water and food supplies, and check your vehicle including the spare tyre(s), before you go off road. It is important to check and monitor road conditions before and during your trip at the Road Report NT website

Safety on the Ernest Giles Track

The Ernest Giles Track is definitely not a road to be taken lightly. As it’s an unsealed dirt road, weather conditions year round mean it can change in its quality regularly, so, pay attention to the weather before you plan on driving. Heavy rain or long dry spells have unique impacts on the quality of the road itself, so we would strongly advise driving at a slow speed.

The Ernest Giles Track crosses the Finke River and if there is decent/heavy rain, the river becomes impossible to cross and you could find yourself stuck. Regardless of your itinerary or deadline, it’s always better to take the road at a safe pace.

You should always also be vigilant when you’re driving. Even though it may seem like an endless expanse of sameness, there are characteristics in the road or even friendly critters which could put a stop to your driving very quickly - so be alert. 

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