The Australia Outback
A visit to Australia isn’t complete without a trip to the heart of the country, known as The Outback.
With its lonely stretches of highway and breathtaking landscapes, The Outback offers a touring experience like no other.
The Outback is renown for magnificent scenery, with unique attractions seen nowhere else in the world. Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is the most famous of these. This large sandstone rock is located in the Northern Territory, 440 km southwest of Alice Springs [Source: Ulurutours.com.au]. More than just a big rock, this sacred site also has many waterholes, caves and ancient paintings.
The Pinnacles are massive limestone formations located 245 km north of Perth, Western Australia. Thousands of these pillars, some reaching up to four meters tall, rise up out of the desert landscape. They are best seen in the early morning or late afternoon when they are most colorful.
While in Western Australia, be sure to stop by the Bungle Bungles, located 110 km from Halls Creek. The Bungle Bungles is famous for a range of unique features, including beehive shaped sandstone forms, deep chasms and breathtaking gorges. It is also home to the Livingstonia Palm, a plant found nowhere else in the world.
The Outback’s weather conditions are harsh. In summer, the average maximum temperature is 36-39°C (97-102°F), while in winter the average maximum is 18-24°C (64-75°F). However, in winter the temperature can also drop below freezing. Rain is infrequent, so there is little relief from the oppressive daytime heat. Dust storms are common and make driving hazardous. You should never drive through a dust storm. Instead, pull over and wait until you can drive safely.
Before setting off, it’s important to plan your journey. You should know which route you’ll take, and how far you’ll travel each day. Avoid driving any more than five hours on any one day to beat fatigue. It’s also important to allow time to reach your campsite each night. It takes time to pitch a tent, and this is much easier in daylight.
The Outback’s unpredictable roads are best tackled with an SUV, or four-wheel drive (4WD) as they are known in Australia. This is a trip for the most confident driver, as hard gravel surfaces often give way to deep sand or creek beds.
Encounters with Australia’s native animals are a highlight of any Outback trip. Kangaroos, emus, and camels roam freely, so drivers should always be alert. This is particularly important around sunset and sunrise when they are most active.
The Outback is miles from nowhere, so it’s important to always carry plenty of food, water and gas, known as petrol in Australia. A week’s supply of food and water is recommended in case your vehicle breaks down. Non-perishable foods, such as crackers and tinned goods, are ideal for your Outback journey.
If your car does break down, it’s important to stay with your vehicle. Many people have become lost or succumbed to heat stroke walking around the desert. Any movement will also cause fluid loss. It’s important to preserve as much fluid as possible as it may take some time before you are found.
If navigating The Outback sounds a little daunting, a guided tour may be more your speed.
Many companies offer 4WD drive tours that take in the Outback’s deserts, gorges and Aboriginal communities. These tours are a very social experience, giving you a chance to meet fellow travelers from all walks of life. At night, you’ll enjoy sampling native delicacies known as “bush tucker” as you sit around the campfire. Diamantina Touring Company in Victoria and Tag-Along 4WD Adventure Tours Australia in New South Wales are some of Australia’s major 4WD touring groups.
For a touring experience like no other, try a camel safari. The camels carry all your water, food, and sleeping bags, allowing you to relax and enjoy the bumpy ride. As most tour operators do not use back-up vehicles, they can visit parts of Australia most tourists never see.
If you’d rather be pampered, a luxury coach tour may be for you. Luxury tour operators ensure you travel in style and stay at the region’s best accommodation spots. These tours are a lot pricier, but they provide a level of comfort found nowhere else in the area. Try Centre One Tours Australia in New South Wales or Outback Spirit.