3 Essential Outback Experiences
Dreaming of an Outback adventure? Get out into the great outdoors with these must-do holiday experiences.
Australia’s Outback is one of the world’s last great natural areas, along with the Amazon Basin, the Sahara, and Canada, Alaska and Russia’s tundra regions. It almost gobbles up the nation whole, and most Australians prefer to cling to the fringe of green closer to the coast and its creature comforts, leaving the Outback wide open to just five percent of the Australian population and an adventurous few.
Rich with travel opportunity, this is a land of changing faces: savannah, scrub, desert, canyons and waterways. Known as Australia’s beating heart, it is iconic and spiritual. If you’re up for the adventure but don’t know where the Australian bush ends and the Outback begins, here are three experiences that encapsulate Australia’s Outback.
1. Red Centre National Parks
Start at Australia’s heart where everything is supersized: Uluru’s enormous presence rises up out of infinite desert to meet giant bluebird skies. Slow travel comes into its own here. On our 7 Day Red Centre Escape, see how the light bathes this Outback icon from dawn ‘til dusk. By night, watch thousands of firefly-like illuminations cloak the Field of Light installation nearby. Listen to the sound of silence on Kings Canyon’s yawning sandstone escarpment in Kings Canyon & Watarrka National Park, or the breeze whisper through Kata Tjuta’s contoured domes, in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Most of all learn the Outback ways, from traditional landowners who revere Uluru’s sacred site, to Alice Springs locals who call this remote gateway town home.
2. National Parks of the Southwest
Western Australia’s southwest has cornered more than its fair share of Outback attractions. Stirling Range National Park is favoured with rugged ridge walks and spring’s floral makeovers, when wildflowers blaze into colour on its lowlands. Further north, Kalbarri National Park gets in on this seasonal act with some 800 wildflower species sharing the limelight. Gazing at the park’s layered sandstone cliffs it can be hard to imagine how so much life can thrive here. Closer to Perth, head to Nambung National Park on our 14 Day Wonders of the South West tour where the Pinnacles’ strange limestone pillars are scattered across the desert in an unsettling yet beautiful image. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d reached Earth’s outer limits.
3. Kimberley and the Top End
The Outback takes on many guises in the Kimberley and Top End. The Kimberley’s rust-red plateau region dives deep into ancient waterways such as Danggu Geikie Gorge, Emma Gorge and Halls Creek. Travel the Gibb River Road to El Questro Wilderness Park’s stirring open spaces, where Zebeedee Springs bubble up among ancient Livistona palms for a soothing soak in thermal springs. A stone’s throw away, Emma Gorge Resort provides a welcome touch of luxury in the Outback.
For a taste of the Top End on our 10 Day Kimberley and Top End tour, visit the tropical centres of Darwin and Katherine, with neighbouring Nitmiluk National Park invitingly close by. Cruise Nitmiluk Gorge, the celebrity of the park’s string of 13 gorges, drifting past soaring cliff faces, along cool, still waters on the Arnhem Land plateau.
With an estimated 5.6 million square kilometres of Australian Outback to cover, it takes time to even scratch the surface. These Outback experiences offer a lens into its desert centre, rugged west or tropical north and opportunities to connect with the Indigenous culture and millennia of history that unite its vast, shifting terrain. Borders blur into the endless horizon and it is all here waiting to be explored.