First-time visitors to Australia may get a bit thrown off when locals call it the “Australian Outback.” Sounds like something from your backyard, but don’t be fooled. They’re talking about the great wilderness covering most of Australia, including the inland areas of New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland.
And it’s not all desert. The Australian Outback includes rivers, springs, waterfalls, rock formations, canyons, and, of course, lots of Australia’s unique flora and fauna. It would take a whole lifetime to see everything. Instead, travel to Australia and concentrate your vacation only on the best the Australian Outback has to offer. Be prepared for long plane, train, and car rides—and bring lots of water, food, and hiking gear.
Start by flying into Brisbane, the cosmopolitan capital of the Australian state of Queensland. After resting and seeing the city, head out to the Currawinya National Park’s red soil, wetlands and rocky outcrops, and see the kangaroos, emus, and abundant birdlife. If you have the time, travel to the remote opal mining town of Yowah and the sleepy town of Charleville for real Australian Outback rural life.
Take the Sydney-Brisbane railway to Australia’s most populous city, Sydney, in the country’s state of New South Wales. After resting, you can travel to the state’s Far West area to see either the opal mining town of Lightning Ridge, or the archaeologically-important Lake Mungo National Park, where Australia’s oldest human remains were found.
You can then take the twice-weekly Indian Pacific passenger rail service to Adelaide in South Australia. South Australia’s most interesting outback destination is the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, 846 kilometers north of Adelaide, where many residents live in underground hill caves to escape the summer heat.
Then take either a plane ride or the rest of the Indian Pacific rail to the capital of Western Australia, Perth. Travel by car to the Goldfields-Esperance area to see the coastal scenery of Cape Le Grand National Park. From Perth, you can also fly to Port Hedland, and drive out to the Pilbara region’s Karijini National Park to see its deep red canyons. Or you can fly to remote, rugged terrain of Kununurra town in the vast Kimberley region.
Finally, travel by plane to Darwin in the Northern Territory. Pay a visit to Gregory National Park, King’s Canyon in Watarrka National Park, and the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve near the town of Alice Springs, in the “Red Centre” of the Northern Territory’s outback. From there, you can end your Australian Outback vacation with a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to Australia’s iconic Uluru or “Ayers Rock.”