When people think about the Australian Outback they probably picture a huge expanse of scrubland and desert spreading as far as the eye can see… Well, to be fair that’s what much of it is like! But there’s actually a lot more to it than that.
So what is the Outback exactly? It’s a name used that refers to the massive central region of Australia which is mostly arid and unpopulated.
Still, Australia is a HUGE country, and the central Outback region stretches across many different climates: from subtropical rainforests in the north, through the desert ‘red centre’, and down to temperate valleys in the south.
This means there are tons to see and explore! But first, here are some quick tips on safety and getting around.
» Tips for an Australian Outback exploration
- The only way to explore the Outback is by vehicle; but, the terrain can be harsh and many car hire companies will forbid you from taking vehicles to certain areas. So if you want total freedom, it’s best to buy a used 4WD from a private dealer, or from a listings site like Gumtree. It sounds expensive, but if you plan properly you can always sell the car back when you’re done!
- The Outback is HUGE, meaning that it’s very hard to navigate. That being said, don’t rely on GPS or mobile for directions and communications. Make sure you take a good old-fashioned map, and when you’re in a group, set places to meet in case one of you gets lost.
- The conditions can be very hard as well. With sometimes 100s of miles between stops, you should make sure that you’re fully stocked on water, snacks and sleeping gear in case you end up stranded. It can also get very cold at night, so bring blankets and warm clothes.
Top Things to Do in the Outback
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Uluru – or Ayers Rock as Australians call it – can be found almost directly in the middle of the country in the most hot and arid area of the Outback that’s known as the ‘red centre’. It’s a huge 335km (208mi) distance found south west of the nearest town of Alice Springs. Plus, it takes about 6 hours to get there by car.
…So why bother making the trip? The mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its incredible cultural significance to the local aboriginal people. It also appears to change colour at different times of the day and year, most incredibly at dawn and dusk when it glows a magical orange red.2
Kakadu National Park
Situated in the far north of Australia, just 171km (106mi) southeast of Darwin, Kakadu National Park is an absolutely huge area of protected wilderness — in fact, it’s bigger than many countries! It has extremely diverse wildlife, being home to over 12,000 species of animals and plants.
As it’s one of the only areas of Australia that has suffered very few extinctions, it’s an amazing place to go for nature lovers who want to experience the full breadth of the country’s unique wildlife.3
When most people picture camels, they think of the Middle East — but believe it or not, there are over 750,000 camels living in Australia! It’s even home to the world’s largest camel herd!
The camel was in fact imported from Arabia, India, and Afghanistan during the 19th century to help with heavy work in the Outback. The camels clearly felt at home and now roam wild in their thousands.
Just like in their native land, lots of herders are now offering camel rides to the paying public. It’s a really fun way to experience the Australian desert regions.4
Coober Pedy is a rare example of how Australians have adapted to living in Outback conditions. This small town lies about 846km (526mi) north of Adelaide in South Australia and sprung up as an outpost for mining opals.
The town is renowned for its fascinating underground dwellings — an inventive way for the inhabitants to escape the scorching daytime heat when temperatures can reach up to 47°C!!
It’s very interesting to visit these dugout homes in person, and of course to marvel at the beautiful native opals.
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Hey there! I am Aileen Adalid.
At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to pursue my dreams. Today, I am a successful digital nomad (entrepreneur, travel writer, & vlogger) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.
My mission? To show you how it is absolutely possible to create a life of travel too (no matter the odds), and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel guides, adventures, resources, tips, and MORE!
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@Eco_Megan haha yeah! I can't stop laughing 😂
@FootlockerWPH Ah no, my family is all in Manila.