Just 14km out of Alice Springs, shortly after the airport turn-off, a sign indicates “Chambers Pillar (4WD)”. This is the Old South Road, which follows the abandoned course of the Ghan and original Overland Telegraph Line to Adelaide; these days, the sandy route has become part of the Old Ghan Heritage Trail, which takes adventurous off-roaders all the way to South Australia. If you’re not an experienced off-road driver, some full-day tours from Alice Springs include Chambers Pillar.

Rainfall permitting, ordinary cars can normally cover the 35km to Ewaninga Rock Carvings, a jumble of rocks by a small claypan that is a sacred Aboriginal Rain Dreaming site, but after the store at MARYVALE (also known as Titjikala; has shop and fuel) you’ll need a 4WD and to be in the mood for a thorough shaking until Charlotte Ranges. After the ranges there are sand ridges all the way to Chambers Pillar (camping), a historic dead-end, 165km from Alice Springs. Named by Stuart after one of his benefactors, the 50m-high sandstone pillar was used as a landmark by early overlanders heading up from the railhead at Oodnadatta, SA. The plinth is carved with their names as well as those of many others, and can be seen from the platform at the pillar’s base.

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