The best parts of Australia are not in the cities! I truly believe that! So where? It’s the mountains, the reef, the rainforest and of course, the Outback! Here are the best places to experience the Australian Outback and really learn what this country is about.
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But Where is the Australian Outback?
I’m not sure there is an exact answer for this. There is no line drawn across Australia where it’s “Outback” on one side and not on the other.
The Outback is most of Australia. It’s that centre part that is hot, and red and isolated. But it’s also some of the tropical north.
A quick Google seems to show most websites define it as the isolated and sparsely populated parts of Australia.
To me, it’s more of a feeling than a place. Have you seen “Crocodile Dundee”? That is Outback Australia.
It is the red dirt, the wildlife, the Indigenous culture, the quirky characters, and the resilient people who live there. It’s iconic sites and vast landscapes. It’s hundreds of kilometres of nothing. It’s heat and flies and kangaroos.
Best Places to Experience the Australian Outback
The Outback is special to me. I was born there and grew up there. I want to share it all with you. But it’s a big place – so here are some of the places you can go as a traveller to really get the vibe and experience the Australian Outback.
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northen Territory: This is like the crown jewel of the Outback! Imagine standing before the magnificent Uluru, a huge sandstone monolith, and marvelling at its colour-changing magic during sunrise and sunset. There is something spiritual here that can’t be explained. Nearby, the Kata Tjuta rock formations are equally as interesting.
- Kings Canyon, Northern Territory: Lace up those hiking boots and set off on the Rim Walk for an unforgettable walk through ancient sandstone walls, panoramic views and if there’s been some rain, a waterfall. It feels like you have stepped back in time.
- Coober Pedy, South Australia: Ever wondered what it’s like to live underground? Well, in Coober Pedy, folks live and work in dugouts to escape the scorching heat. Explore opal mines, and maybe even try your hand at fossicking! It also really brings that unique quirkiness the Outback is well known for.
- Alice Springs, Northern Territory: The gateway to the Red Centre, Alice Springs is a quirky little town where you can learn about Aboriginal culture, check out the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and set out on epic road trips. Don’t miss a sunset tour of the Kangaroo Sanctuary.
- Simpson Desert, SA, NT & QLD: Sand dunes as far as the eye can see! The Simpson Desert is a 4×4 enthusiast’s dream, offering challenging tracks and breathtaking isolation. Just make sure you’re well-prepared!
- Flinders Ranges, South Australia: Time to swap those dusty trails for a landscape of rugged gorges, colourful cliffs, and an abundance of wildlife. The Flinders Ranges are a hiker’s paradise and a photographer’s dream. They are also one of my favourite places in the world!
- Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory: Now we’re heading to the Top End, where lush wetlands meet ancient rock art. Kakadu is a World Heritage-listed gem that’s teeming with wildlife, waterfalls, and cultural treasures.
- Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle Range), Western Australia: These orange and black striped beehive-shaped domes are like something out of a fantasy world. Helicopter tours and guided hikes let you explore this unique geological wonder.
- The Oodnadatta Track, South Australia: Follow the path of the old Ghan railway and traverse a route steeped in history. From salt lakes to desert sculptures, this track offers a true Outback adventure. Make sure you stop in William Creek and do a scenic flight over the Painted Hills
- Birdsville, Queensland: Yep, you guessed it – it’s all about the Birdsville Races! This iconic Outback event is an epic carnival that brings people from all over to experience true Outback hospitality and a legendary party. If you can’t make the races, head to the Big Red Bash instead.
- Longreach, Queensland: Longreach is like a living museum of Outback history. Visit the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum to get a taste of the pioneering spirit that shaped this land.
- Broken Hill, New South Wales: This oasis in the desert will charm your socks off. With its rich mining history, quirky galleries, and unique architecture, Broken Hill has a feel all its own. Follow in the footsteps of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” here.
- Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia: Rugged coastal cliffs meet vibrant wildflowers and dramatic river gorges here. The Murchison River Gorge is a must-see, whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or just taking in the breathtaking scenery.
- Tibooburra, New South Wales: If you’re after some serious Outback isolation, Tibooburra’s your spot. This remote town near the NSW-Queensland border offers a real taste of the wide open spaces and a chance to see the Milky Way like never before.
- Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland: Step into a world of ancient Indigenous rock art, towering sandstone cliffs, and lush vegetation. Carnarvon Gorge’s walking trails will lead you to breathtaking vistas and hidden treasures.
- Exmouth, Western Australia: Time to cool off in style! Exmouth is your gateway to the Ningaloo Reef, where you can snorkel with whale sharks, swim with manta rays, and marvel at vibrant coral formations.
- Lightning Ridge, New South Wales: Opals, opals, and more opals! Lightning Ridge is famous for its precious gemstone, but it’s also a place where you can dig for treasure, experience the unique underground lifestyle, and even spot a few emus.
- Karijini National Park, Western Australia: If waterfalls cascading down red rock gorges sound like your kind of adventure, Karijini’s got you covered. This park is an absolute playground for hikers, rock climbers, and nature lovers.
- Charleville, Queensland: Get ready for some serious stargazing! Charleville‘s Cosmos Centre offers a mind-blowing journey through the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky, where you can see planets, stars, and galaxies up close.
- Silverton, New South Wales: Just a stone’s throw from Broken Hill, Silverton is a quirky artist’s haven with its own distinctive charm. You might recognize it from a few Aussie films and TV shows!
So next time you are in Australia, or if you are already here and looking for a new destination, head to the Outback and see another side of this amazing country.
TRAVEL PLANNING ESSENTIALS
Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs
Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.
Hire a rental car – RentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.
Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.
Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.
Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.
Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.
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