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.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Solo travel in Australia: everything you need to know

Solo travel in Australia: everything you need to know

Australia remains a classic travel destination. A steady stream of gap-year backpackers, career breakers and round-the-world-trippers head down under to sample …

22 Nov 2016 • Shafik Meghji insert_drive_file Article
Road trip Australia: 6 of the best routes

Road trip Australia: 6 of the best routes

Pack your stuff, throw it in camper van along with a surfboard and don’t look back… This might be an old cliché but it’s one for good reason: Australia r…

18 Oct 2016 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
Sydney or Melbourne: the great Aussie debate

Sydney or Melbourne: the great Aussie debate

Sydney and Melbourne have been battling it out for supremacy as long as Europeans have been setting sail for Australia. Both are capitals of their respective st…

03 Oct 2016 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month