Whether you’re visiting from overseas, or a local wanting to explore more of our great big backyard, you haven’t truly experienced the ‘real’ Down Under until you’ve visited the wild Australian Outback.
With so many weird and wonderful things to see and do in the Aussie Outback, narrowing it down to just ten is no easy feat… but we’ve given it a shot! For an unforgettable adventure, make sure you get off the beaten track and tick some of these outback holiday experiences off your Australian travel bucket list.
1. Soar above Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre, South Australia
Located 700 km north of Adelaide, the vast basin of Australia’s largest salt lake, Kati Thanda, also known as Lake Eyre, stretches across three states and the Northern Territory. Seeing Lake Eyre at ground level is impressive in itself, but to see it from the air is something truly incredible – which is why a scenic flight over Lake Eyre sits at the top of our outback bucket list!
Booking a scenic flight is the best way to get an idea of how far the lake stretches and you’ll see spectacular salt plains, unique birdlife and the shimmering horizon along the way. One word of advice – don’t forget your camera!
2. Place your bets at the Marree Australian Camel Cup
Did someone say ‘Camel Racing’? The truly bizarre but thoroughly entertaining Marree Australian Camel Cup is held every July in Marree, a small town to the north of South Australia at the junction of the historic Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks.
The unusual tradition honours the legendary Afghan cameleers who worked in outback Australia in the late-19th century and called Marree home. Today, visitors will be treated to a unique brand of outback culture, have the opportunity to place bets on 13 camel races, challenge a camel to tug-of-war, play camel polo, race donkeys, eat traditional Afghan food, and enjoy free live music. You don’t get that kind of entertainment at the Melbourne Cup!
3. Safari in style at Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges
The Flinders Ranges boasts some of Australia’s most breathtaking natural scenery. In the Northern region of the Flinders Ranges inside a large rock amphitheatre, sits Wilpena Pound. While visiting this sacred Aboriginal cultural site, join an Aboriginal Cultural Tour where you’ll hear traditional stories, local songs, and learn the history of the original inhabitants, the Adnyamathanha people.
While Wilpena Pound is a popular camp site for many people, there are lots of different accommodation options available. Wilpena Pound Resort offers a ‘haven of outback hospitality’ from hotel rooms to fully furnished glamping safari tents so that you can enjoy this authentic and exciting Australian outback experience in luxury!
4. Fly to the moon (not literally) from Arkaroola, South Australia
One of the most magical parts of being in outback Australia is uninterrupted views of the night sky. Further north of the Flinders Ranges lies the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and Arkaroola’s three astronomical observatories. Professional and budding astronomers are welcome, with each observatory offering different equipment and tours to suit your level of experience.
Choose to sit in sky angled chairs or use their computerised telescopes to see astounding constellations. The Arkaroola’s ‘Dark Skies Policy’ creates a dark atmosphere with little to no light interference, giving you a front row view of our incredible solar system.
5. Sleep in a Desert Dugout at Coober Pedy
Known as the Opal Capital of Australia, almost half of Coober Pedy’s residents live underground to escape the searing desert heat. For a unique outback holiday experience, visitors can stay at some of these underground homes (called ‘dugouts’) and live like a local!
There are several places in Coober Pedy that offer the chance to sleep underground, a very unique outback holiday experience. Why not check out the Lookout Cave 50 metres underground, or the living-room swimming pool at Faye’s Underground Home?
6. See the Sacred Red Burning Rock at Uluru, Northern Territory
No outback tour of Australia is complete without a visit to the iconic red centre and Uluru (Ayers Rock), a massive sandstone monolith 450 km away from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. This historical site is a sacred landmark to the Pitjantjatjara tribe who believe the rock was formed in the Dreamtime by ancestral beings.
You can walk the track around Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park during the day, but we suggest leaving early in the morning before it gets too hot… Sunset and sunrise are equally spectacular times to see the magnificent rock from a distance as it burns red against the sky.
7. Celebrate Aboriginal culture and heritage at Kakadu National Park
North of Uluru is the famous Kakadu National Park. Home to the Gagudju people, there are more than 5000 aboriginal rock art sites dating back 20,000 years. Be transported back in time as you gaze upon these unique pieces of art. Burrunggui (or Noulangie Rock) is especially rich with Aboriginal culture and heritage, and it’s here you can take a 1.5 km circular walk to see ancient Aboriginal shelters, and several impressive rock art sites.
Near the mouth of the Kakadu North Entrance on the Arnhem Highway is Jabiru. Once a year on the banks of Jabiru lake is the Mahbilil Festival. This festival is a celebration of Kakadu culture exhibiting their history through music, bushfood, art, dance and workshops. This event takes place between August and September each year.
8. Cruise along Gibb River Road, Western Australia
The Gibb River Road, which spans 700 km through the Kimberley wilderness from King Sound in Derby to the Cambridge Gulf at Wyndham, is one of Australia’s most devilish but exciting outback tracks. Whether you choose to tackle this great 4WD adventure by yourself or as part of a small group tour, you’re guaranteed to come away with a newfound sense of respect and awe for Western Australia’s rugged landscape.
Along the way, make sure you visit spectacular Kimberley sights like Windjana Gorge, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, Mitchell Falls, the Cockburn Ranges and, of course, the Bungle Bungles. There are plenty of campsites available along the road but for those who prefer to stay indoors, we highly recommend stopping at the Home Valley Station near the Pentecost River for a comfortable stay in a safari tent or private luxury room.
9. Bathe at the Zebedee Natural Hot Springs, Western Australia
A day excursion to the naturally heated, underground waters of Zebedee Natural Hot Springs at El Questro National Park in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, is a welcome relief for tired travellers along the Gibb River Road. Reaching temperatures of 38 degrees celsius, these thermal pools
Set at the base of sheer cliffs and nestled among tropical palms, these thermal springs reach temperatures of 38 degrees celsius and provide visitors with the perfect place to relax and wash away any aches, pains, and dust gathered from the Gibb River Road. The Zebedee Springs are open to the general public in the morning, but closed in the afternoon so make sure you plan your visit accordingly! If you run out of time or feel like making the most of this beautiful area, why not stay at the nearby El Questro Station which offers air conditioned resort-style bungalow accommodation.
10. Get a Birdseye view of the Bungle Bungle Range
Further along the Gibb River Road lies Purnululu National Park, home to the legendary Bungle Bungles. These large sandstone domes are over 360 million years old. Take a scenic helicopter ride from Purnululu National Park’s airfield to see the tiger-striped ‘beehives’ stretching across the plains for a staggering 450 km.
We also recommend exploring the park from the ground to see the 300-metre tall beehive formations up close. After a long day of exploring the ranges, reward yourself with a glass of champagne as you watch the sunset over the glowing domes.
Whichever outback adventure you choose, you want to get the most out of your holiday. With a range of flexible accommodation and tour options, we can customise your itinerary to match your dream outback holiday. Never miss a thing with our experienced guides and luxury, one-of-a-kind outback experiences!