Outback Australia is the beautiful, remote, arid, interior of Australia. In outback Australia, it can be hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres between small towns, mine sites and cattle farms.
There area that encompasses outback Australia crosses the borders of all states and territories on mainland Australia, with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory.
So, what's there to see in outback Australia?
Despite being arid, outback Australia is home to plants and animals that have adapted to live in harsh conditions. Seeing animals is best at dawn or dusk, when they seek out food and water, outside of the heat of the day.
Expect to see red kangaroos and dingoes as well as birds, such as budgerigars, cockatoos, corellas and galahs at watering holes. Lizards and snakes can be found sunning themselves on rocks.
From vast plains of vibrant red soil to astonishing rock formations and waterfalls, outback Australia has a complex and beautiful landscape.
Some of the most famous outback Australia rock formations include Uluru, the Devil’s Marbles, the MacDonnell Ranges, Katherine Gorge, Kata Tjuta and Kakadu National Park.
Lakes and waterfalls can be found at Kakadu, Lake Argyle, Nitmiluk National Park, Lawn Hill Gorge and at various stops along the Gibb River Road, in The Kimberley.
Camping and star gazing at Australia’s wide open spaces is an incredible experience. In remote areas, with no light from surrounding towns, an enormous number of stars are visible that you will never see in the big cities.
At Uluru in October, the Australian Chamber Orchestra plays symphonies under the stars. In spring, the desert near Uluru bursts into spectacular, rare wildflowers.
Coober Pedy in South Australia is the opal capital of the world and is in the heart of outback Australia. Opals are precious stones filled with colour and desired the world over. Lightning Ridge in New South Wales is another area that is famous for opals. It is also known for having numerous fossils of mammals that once roamed the continent.
Exploring the amazing aboriginal Australian culture is an enlightening experience. Rock paintings adorn many of the rock formations and local tour guides can share with you the oral history of their people, that has been passed down over tens of thousands of years.
Alice Springs is in the centre of outback Australia. It hosts an annual Camel Race, plus the quirky ‘Henley on Todd Regatta’, which is a ‘boat race’ in a dry river bed. If you prefer horse racing, then attending the Birdsville Races, is another great outback Australian adventure.
Riding the Ghan, the train that travels from Adelaide to Alice Springs and to Darwin, is an incredible and comfortable way to see outback Australia.
Outback Australia is hot and dry most of the year. Temperatures can reach above 50 degrees Celsius. During winter, overnight temperatures can plummet to 3 degrees.
The Summer rain can result in floods.
As the area of land that is outback Australia is so large, it is important to check local weather forecasts prior to travelling.
There are several things to consider when visiting anywhere in the outback.
Water and towns with shops are scarce in outback Australia. When you are driving long distances, ensure you have at least 5 litres of water per person, per day.
When it does rain, roads are closed, often for weeks. Getting bogged in mud in remote areas of Australia can be dangerous if you do not have food and water. It is not advised to cross flooded creeks and roads.
Speak with local authorities and police if you are driving in remote areas for advice on routes and how much water you should take. Ensure friends and family know your planned route, and check in with them regularly when you reach your planned destinations.
Many roads in outback Australia are unsealed, dirt roads. Road dust can obscure vision and making driving extremely dangerous. If this occurs, you should pull off the road and wait for the dust to pass. Driving slowly on unsealed roads can limit the amount of dust.
Long distance driving can cause extreme fatigue. Ensure you plan enough rest stops on your drive.
Animals also pose a risk to drivers. They can be hazards on the roads and cause many car accidents.
If your vehicle breaks down it is not advised to attempt to walk for help. The hot conditions can be extremely dangerous. It is best to stay with your vehicle and wait for help.
If you have no phone reception, you may have to wait until another vehicle passes through the area, which may take days. You will need to ration your food and water intake.
Always stay on marked hiking trails. Ensure you have adequate water and protection from the sun. Do not go hiking in the middle of the day or on your own. Always inform others of your planned hike and your planned time to return.
Outback Australia can be reached by driving inland from any part of Australia. In fact, some parts are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles.
Bus tours are common ways to reach some of the popular destinations.
You can also fly to many of the main regional centres in outback Australia.
Whichever way you get there, you won't escape the wide open spaces.