Australia has some of the most stunning coastlines in the world, and you’ll never catch me saying otherwise. But head inland to outback Australia and you’re bound to come across breathtaking landscapes, unique creatures and vibrant cultures.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet and yes the outback has a lot of deserts. But rural Australia is also home to some of the most stunning national parks, hiding towering waterfalls and unique rock formations. Best of all it’s also somewhere you can go to get away from it all. Over 85% of Australia’s population live within 50km of the coast. So cross that 50km mark and it’s just you and the endless outback… phone reception will also be spotty, another benefit in my opinion. So what do you do there? You can do whatever you want really, but these are my picks on what to see and do in outback Australia.
One thing to keep in mind when planning your outback adventure is that everything is really spread out. You might be on the road for days before coming across another car or town. So make sure you’ve got a good crew, a good playlist and all the car snacks you can fit on you copilot’s lap. You’ll have hours to make up car games like spot the emu and plenty of incredible photo opportunities along the way. Roadtripping through the outback also gives you the freedom to stop wherever you wish, and discover the incredible trails and landmarks that make the area so awesome.
When driving through the centre of Australia make sure you have all the right permissions. Some sacred lands require special permissions to pass through, and out of respect and your own safety, it’s best to have them sorted before you go or find another route. For those of you not keen to drive on the left side of the road you can catch The Khan train through the heart of Australia. From coast to coast, this stunning train ride straight through the centre of outback Australia is a voyage through breathtaking scenery!
There’s no better way to get to know outback Australia, than by packing up your swag and tucker and heading out on one of its many trails. There are hundreds of them across the country and some of the best are found in the centre. More than just endless, flat plains scorched by the hot sun, you’ll find vast canyons and mountain ridges, hidden billabongs and giant termite mounds.
One of the most famous hiking trails in Australia is the Larapinta trail. The 223 km long trail, through the West MacDonnell Ranges, weaves through some of the most stunning bush landscapes in Australia. Past cavernous gorges and life-giving rivers the Larapinta trail is an unforgettable journey. There are heaps more incredible hiking trails throughout inland Australia, and to be honest plenty of amazing ones along the coast as well.
Heading north to the warmer coastal waters for a dip in the ocean, isn’t always the best idea. Hiding under the waves are box jellyfish, blue ring octopus, sharks and saltwater crocodiles. All capable of taking a human life. It’s also not necessary. There are plenty of places in the outback to dive in and escape the heat. I’m not talking hotel pools, but rather crystal clear waterholes and seasonal waterfalls. These ancient lands have sustained life with their natural springs and rock pools for millions of years, and now they’re an oasis-like escape from the outback heat.
Hiking or 4W driving through the dry bushland of the Kakadu National Park, you’ll be treated to Australia’s greatest natural infinity pool! Overlooking the expanse of shrubby bushland is the waterhole at Gunlom falls. For more incredible outback waterholes check out The Best Swimming Spots in the Northern Territory.
Australia is famous for it’s weird, wonderful and at times dangerous wildlife and the outback is no exception. Like along the coast, you’ll find mammals and marsupials found nowhere else in the wild. From Dingoes to giant red kangaroos, thorny devils to two-metre-long monitor lizards! You won’t need to head to a sanctuary to see these animals, though you definitely can for a close encounter. You’ll see them out your car window and in your campsite. You’ll hear the dingoes howling through the night and find the lizards sunbathing on rocks.
Make sure that when hiking you are aware of the animals you may cross on your path. Be informed on how you should behave around them and what to have in your first aid kit. Just in case.
Central Australia is really flat, with very little light pollution, giving you 190-degree views of undiluted stars. I’ve heard time and time again that the night sky over rural Australia is incomparably beautiful. And I’d have to agree. Despite the cold desert night air it’s hard to zip up your tent or swag and cut off your view of infinite stars.
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