As Australians say, nothing says Australia quite like the Outback. The open spaces contain so many stories that have been told over the last 30,000 years. The story of survival, exploration, and development is the backbone of the Australian identity. You can find a little bit of the outback in every state of Australia, and while the regions are remote, they can be accessed from most major cities and towns. Whether you’re challenging this landscape with a 4WD vehicle or the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world, this red-soil country will surprise you in every way possible. Now, let’s get to know the Outback, the best of Australia.
Waltzing Matilda: the unofficial national anthem of Australia
To get to know the Outback, you have to learn about Waltzing Matilda. Waltzing Matilda is a folk song widely known as Australia’s bush ballad. The gist of the song is the story of a nomadic worker (swagman) making tea at a bush camp and catching a sheep to eat. Matilda is the name of the swag (sleeping pad). It keeps him warm at night like a woman would. But when the sheep’s owner arrives with three police officers to arrest the worker for the theft, the worker commits suicide by drowning himself in the nearby watering hole, after which his ghost haunts the site. The story was written by the poet Banjo Paterson in 1895. It’s been known as the unofficial national anthem of Australia ever since.
Great Artesian Basin: The Source of Life
The Great Artesian Basin is the reason why Australia in its current state exists. It is the size of a quarter of the continent and has been an important key to the life in Australia. It covers most of Queensland, and parts of the Northern Territory, South Australia, and New South Wales. Without the Artesian Basin, life in the outback as we know it would be very different.
The Great Artesian Basin is basically rainwater from two million years ago that’s now bubbling up from the natural dip. You can visit many places in the Outback where you can swim in this water.
Royal Flying Doctor Service & Angel Flight
Can you imagine having a medical emergency while traveling in a remote part of the Outback? You have to drive days to reach a bigger town with medical care. That’s where The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia comes in. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organizations in the world. Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, the Flying Doctors deliver extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to those who live, work and travel throughout Australia.
Another service that’s similar to the Flying Doctors is Angel Flight. Started in 2003, Angel Flight is a charity which co-ordinates non-emergency flights to assist country people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them because of vast distance and high travel costs.
Big Red deserves its name. It’s a 30-meter high, red color sand dune that is the starting point of the Simpson Desert, which is the world’s largest sand dune desert (total 1,113 dunes) and contains the world’s longest parallel sand dunes. It lies across Northern Territory, South Australia, and Queensland. The Big Red itself doesn’t look too big, but it’s merely the beginning of the vast and dry landscape. There have been a number of explorers who tried and succeeded in crossing this unknown region, including Burke and Wills in 1861. The curiosity and endeavors are what makes the human race different from others.
We're a bit lost for words to describe this spectacular scene at @exploreuluru, so we'll just let you admire it instead! #Uluru is awe-inspiring at any time of day, although the golden hours of sunrise and sunset are particularly impressive and make for stunning photography. Just remember to take a moment to look up from your camera and just admire this incredibly spiritual part of @visitcentralaus with your own eyes. Photo: @megyu_rin
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
A four-hour drive from Alice Springs, a large sandstone rock formation stands in the southern part of the Northern Territory. This area, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, is internationally recognized as a World Heritage site. A sacred place to the Aboriginal people, Uluru is a home to waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta have great cultural significance for the Anangu people who lead walking tours here. Anangu have lived and managed this country for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence shows Aboriginal people have lived in central Australia for at least 30,000 years. If you visit Uluru you may see people dot painting, performing inma (traditional dance and song), telling stories or gathering bush tucker (meal).
It rises 348 meters above the plane (860 meters above sea level), which makes it higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Chrysler Building in NYC.
Alice Springs is a center for convenience and information in the Northern Territory. There are many excellent museums, a fine wildlife park, and outstanding galleries of Indigenous art to get to know more about the region and the people. This is an important destination to understand the complex history and struggles of the Aboriginal people of Australia.
Also, there is a wide range of accommodation, some good dining options, and travel connections. The scenic MacDonnell Ranges stretch east and west from the town center and the famous Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is just a four-hour drive away. There are many amazing tours of Australia that include a visit to Alice Springs and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
@michaelturtle is travelling through the heart of Australia on #TheGhan Expedition right now. He's shared a snapshot of his trip so far: "And so begins my journey on The Ghan, the train that will take me from the top to the bottom of Australia over the next few days. We're almost fully loaded here in Darwin and will set off in a few minutes. The first stop later this afternoon will be Katherine – then Alice Springs (plus Uluru), Coober Pedy and finally Adelaide." #TheGhan #JourneyBeyond
The Ghan, the name derived from the Afghan Express, is a 2,979km railway from coast to coast, through the red soil country. The Ghan was named for the pioneering cameleers who blazed a permanent trail into the Red Centre of Australia more than 150 years ago. Many cameleers were migrants from an area now known as Pakistan. However, according to outback lore in the 1800s, these men were believed to be Afghans.
The Ghan takes you deep into the heart of Australia from Adelaide to Darwin. It’s a great way to experience the ever-changing landscapes and dramatic scenery of central Australia, just like the Afghan cameleers did hundred years ago.
In the Outback, there are not only great sunrises and sunsets but also a bright night sky. The lack of light pollution will present one of the most beautiful night skies you’ve ever seen.