How to explore the Australian Outback

The Australian Outback embodies the essence of Australia. It covers roughly 6.5 million square km and has so many attractions for the adventurous traveller. The Outback Destinations are full of gorgeous open spaces, dazzling colours, challenging 4WD locations, rugged mountains, waterfalls, and plenty more. You will never run out of things to do and there is something for everyone. Due to its vast size, it is home to several climate zones which is why planning your Australian Outback Travel well is of the utmost importance. So take a trip here and immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Australia.

Icons of Outback Australia

Australian Outback Map and Facts

The Australian Outback Destinations are spectacular and marvellous places to visit. There are just so many attractions to choose from that it can become hard to fit all into one trip. Usually people associate the Red Centre of Australia with the Top Outback destination. But there are many more places really worth visiting. Before you start planning your itinerary why not take a look at the following Australian locations that make up the entire Outback experience. From this map, you can see that most of the Outback Australia cover he majority of the territory. The light yellow characterizes inhabited areas whereas the deep yellow regions are mostly desert zones scarcely populated.

Outback Ausralia Map

Central Australia

This region consists of the Red Centre with vast red desert plains from where you can view Ayers Rock. When driving from Sydney you can make a stop at Alice Springs. Alice Springs is known as the Capital of the Outback and it sits in the middle of the Australian continent. It is well connected to Uluru and you can take a fun drive to visit it. To see all the amazing sights of the Central Outback Destinations you can take a self-driving trip from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock. From there you can proceed to Kings Canyon and even loop back to Alice Springs.

Northern Australia Outback Destinations

The regions in the northern part of the Outback have rugged ranges, spectacular gorges, and astounding waterfalls. You can reach the Top End of Australia from any of the airports. Once there, catch the Ghan train to Darwin. Though it is a small town you need at least three days to fully enjoy the uniqueness of Darwin. It is surrounded by the ocean on three sides which gives it a lovely tropical atmosphere. From Darwin, the best way to get to the Kakadu is to hire a car and drive to enjoy the sights. Along with the Kakadu National Park, the Litchfield National Park is also an amazing place to see. Visiting this location during May-June is the best since the crowds have thinned and you can enjoy the beautiful atmosphere without any restrictions.

Top North East Australia

Queensland Australia is a place that travellers flock to for an exotic Australian experience. There are a lot of things to do here including visiting the World Heritage-listed Fossil fields. Many tours can be taken from the city of Cairns in Queensland. These tour packages will allow you to explore the Outback and see the epic Gulf Savannah region of North Queensland. There are also guided 4WD tours to Daintree National Park, Cooktown and farther north. You can reach Queensland by flight or take a bus from one of the many bus services available between cities and towns throughout Australia. It is also easily reached by train from Sydney.

Western Australia

The Kimberley of Australia is one of the prominent Outback destinations of the West. Here you can visit Broome and watch the sunset on the back of a camel, drive along the Gibb River Road, cruise by Lake Argyle, and explore the beehive structures of the Bungle Bungles range in Purnululu National Park. To get to the Kimberley you can travel by the Stuart Highway from Darwin.

How to get around in the Outback

The Australian Outback is rich with sights and experiences to relish. There are several ways that you can explore the Outback Destinations. Here are some of them.

An Outback Road Trip across Australia

Self-driving

Driving by a 2WD or a 4WD is the best way for any Outback travel. Renting a car is the most convenient way to go wherever you want. It can get quite expensive to hire a 4WD and there are many places where an ordinary 2WD will be quite sufficient. If you are looking to visit places that require you to use unsealed roads then investing in a 4WD for your trip will be the best and safest option. It will also require a certain level of expertise to operate a 4WD which is important on your journey. Here are some more tips that you can use while driving through the Australian Outback.

By Campervan

These are a convenient and interesting means of transport for getting around the Outback. They can house around 2-6 people and serve as a home on wheels so that you can camp anywhere. There are also 4WD campervan models which are one of the best ways to see the Australian Outback.

On a flight

The Australian Outback has many airports situated at some of the major cities including Kununurra, Broome, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, and more. There are many direct flights to most of the towns of the Outback. You will not have a problem since most of the areas are well connected.

By bus

Outback bus travel is really comfortable and in most cases quite cheap. They have many stops on the way so that travellers can have a meal and stretch their legs. Many buses ply between Adelaide, Alice Springs, and Darwin. The major bus network is Greyhound but there are some local bus companies too.

On a train journey

The famous Ghan train is the most fun way to get around the Australian Outback. It departs from Adelaide for Alice Springs on Sundays and Wednesdays and then goes to Darwin. It is a luxurious mode of transport and is well equipped with many facilities.

Australian Outback Destinations And Tours

Outback Australia is full of wonderful tourist attractions for you to visit. So before you begin planning your trip check out some of the wonderful things to do in the Outback and best places to visit.

The Red Centre Way Uluru

  1. The Red Centre

    The Australian Red Centre consists of the famous town of Alice Springs and the gorgeous monolith of Ayers Rock. To explore it you can take one of the 2-day or 4-day Outback tours from Alice Springs. On a four day tour, you will get to spend a day in Alice Springs where there are a lot of amazing Aboriginal art galleries to visit. After an overnight stay, you will visit the West MacDonnell Ranges which is also an extraordinary landscape to be discovered. It has rocky gorges, and waterholes for you to cool down, and picturesque areas to explore. Don’t miss out on the amazing collection of Indigenous paintings at the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa Cultural Centre. The late afternoon is the best time to see the sky change colour at Uluṟu while sipping sparkling wine. On your last day, you will be transported back to Alice Springs.

    For self-guided trips and more information check out this guide on the Australia Red Centre.

  2. Top End of Australia

    The Northern Territory of Australia is huge and has so many places that you could explore and visit. You can take a 1-day tour to the Litchfield National Park and see the gorgeous natural landscape that has been formed by water. It has abundant waterfalls, a huge monsoon rainforest, multiple bushwalking tracks, swimming holes, and the well-known magnetic termite mounds.

    For other travellers with more time to spend in the Top End, there are also adventurous 3-day 4WD tours to be taken! These kinds of adventurous trips offer value for money Top End Experience where you can visit Kakadu, including Twin Falls, Jim Jim Falls, and the Litchfield National Park.

  3. North Western Australia

    One of the ancient landscapes of North-Western Australian is the Kimberley region. It spans hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and is one of the world’s most precious wilderness regions. It is a gateway to the outback beach town of Broome and Kununurra on its eastern side. Learn more about the spectacular Kimberley Region here.

  4. Flinders Ranges

    The Flinders Ranges in Australia is located about 380 kilometres north of Adelaide. Here you will find dusty red roads bordered by towering ancient cliffs and deep craters. Visit the Wilpena Pound which is a large amphitheatre created naturally through erosion. It also has some good Aboriginal rock art sites you can marvel at. Since there is so much to do here you can take a Tour to the Outback Flinders Ranges to see the most attractions at once.

  5. Victoria

    This is a state situated in south-eastern Australia. It is the home to many Aboriginal groups and it offers a host of cultural experiences to tourists. Here you can explore the hidden laneways and shopping centres of Melbourne. The Grampians National Park has some of the best bushwalking terrain, ancient Indigenous sites, gushing waterfalls, and jaw-dropping lookouts. In northwest Victoria on the banks of the Murray River, you will find the city of Mildura. One of the most fascinating things to do in this city is to travel on a houseboat and visit some of the local restaurants and wineries along the way. Travellers also love taking a trip to the nearby Mungo National Park which is a World Heritage Site. So even though Victoria in Australia is the smallest state on the mainland it has a lot of things to do and see in the Outback too.

  6. Queensland Australia Outback Destinations

    Outback Queensland is a hub of tourist activity due to the many attractions that it has. Here are some of the lovely places that you can take an Australian Outback tour to.

    Central West
    The Central West is also known as the heart of Outback Queensland. Here you can see the amazing Stockman’s hall of fame which pays tribute to the people of the Outback. The live ‘Outback Stockman’s Show’ is a must-see event there. Another fascinating thing is the world’s largest collection of Australia dinosaur fossils at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton.

    North West
    The North West is the rugged portion of Queensland. It has the gorgeous Mount Isa which has several heritage-listed sites. Take a trip through history at the Underground Hospital built during WWII. You can also have a fun time at the Porcupine Gorge National Park in this part of Queensland.

    South West
    In the south-west is Brisbane which a good place for finding beautiful birds like the wedge-tailed eagles. Indulge in some self-care by bathing in mineral-rich mud at the Eulo Mud Baths. Pay a visit to the Charleville Cosmos Centre where you will get a chance at an evening stargazing session and visit some astronomy exhibits. The town of Cunnumulla is situated just 200km from Charleville, and you can enjoy fishing, kayaking, and swimming there.

    Far West
    Queensland’s far west is the best place for adventures by 4WD. Drive down to see the dazzling beauty of the Big Red at sunset. Don’t forget to go bird watching in the wetlands of the Diamantina National Park.

    These are all the amazing destinations on the Queensland Australia map. Be sure to include at least one of these fascinations locations on your bucket list.

Best Australian Outback Towns worth visiting

Here are some of the wonderful towns of the Outback. You can spend a night or make a pit stop at some of these places during your Australian Outback Travel.

  • Darwin

    Darwin Australia the capital city of the Northern Territory is a large place but very sparsely populated. It serves as a hub for tours leading to the Kakadu National Park Litchfield National Park, and Katherine Gorge. And it is actually considered a tropical destination, although the landscape and the lifestyle is very much typical of the Outback. Darwin is a great place to visit, it has many beaches, beach markets, and gorgeous parks.
    Check out some of the awesome things to do in Darwin.

  • Katherine

    Katherine is a fairly accessible small Outback town in the Northern Territory. It is located on the Katherine River 320 km Southeast of Darwin. You can take a day-trip in the Katherine along the Stuart Highway. It will give you enough time to see the breathtaking Nitmiluk National Park and Edith Falls. You can explore the massive Katherine Gorge by cruise kayak, bush walk or scenic flight.

  • Alice Springs

    This is the third-largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Alice Springs is located just halfway between Adelaide and Darwin and is often called the heart of the Red Centre. It has a beautiful view since it is surrounded by the MacDonnell ranges which you can see painted red in the sunrise and sunset. The famous Larapinta trail starts just four kilometres from the town centre, and there is plenty of walking and cycling tracks. The town has a thriving art scene and you can even buy indigenous art from the local seller.

  • Coober Pedy

    Coober Pedy is a unique town that lies north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway. This wonderful town is sometimes referred to as the opal capital of the world since it has many precious opals mined there. One of the strangest and most fun things to do there is to visit some of its below-ground residences also called dugouts. You can camp out at one of the underground campsites or visit the Desert Cave Hotel for a fun stay.

  • Broken Hill and Silverton

    Broken Hill Australia is a quaint mining town situated in the New South Wales Outback. The closest major city nearby is Adelaide. Once you get there you can visit The Line of Lode Miners Memorial to learn about its great and tragic history. There is a lot to do like visit its parks, gardens, and fascinating attractions like the Living Desert Sculptures. Read this to learn more about Broken Hill. Silverton is a town 26 km Northwest from Broken Hill. It is set against the spectacular Mundi Mundi plains. Many amazing films have been shot here and it is often full of photographers and artists. One of the best things to do here is to visit the famous Mad Max Musem.

  • Cunnamulla

    Cunnamulla is a town in Queensland situated on the banks of the Warrego River. This town is known for its natural Outback beauty. If you want to go fishing you can always visit the lovely Warrego River. There are also opportunities for bird watching, kayaking, and swimming. There are two museums here and a tourist information centre as well. The town has two caravan parks, one at the Warrego Riverside and the other one that lies within the town boundaries. Learn more about Cunnamulla.

  • Mildura

    This city is perched on the banks of the Murray River and gives off the vibe of a laid-back outdoor lifestyle. When you reach here you cannot help but sample the region’s famous food and wine at Langtree Avenue or The Mildura Brewery. The Mungo National Park is a place where you can unwind and explore the rich vibrant ancient landscape of the Outback. It boasts some of Australia’s most significant Indigenous sites. Mildura Arts Centre is a place to visit to indulge your senses and enjoy the creative talent from all around. Lastly, you have to experience what it feels like to travel on a houseboat along the Murray River.

  • Broome

    The coastal town of Broome is situated in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is a remote place with red dust banks, white sand beaches, and dazzling turquoise waters. You can go to the famous Cable Beach of Broome and have a picnic there. Broome is also a great place for bird lovers and it houses the magnificent Broome Bird Observatory. Broome is the Tropical Pearl of West Australia.

  • Kununurra

    Kununurra is every traveller’s favourite stopover between Broome and Darwin. Situated at the end of Gibb river road it is a must-see place that has to be on your bucket list. It has great spots for hiking with trails like the Kelly’s Knob. There you will be graced with spectacular views of the Outback. It is also home to the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungle Range. Here are 10 things to do in and around Kununurra

  • Kalgoorlie

    This city is also known as Kalgoorlie-Boulder and is located in the region of Western Australia. It is Australia’s largest Outback town and is situated just 595 km North-East of Perth. Kalgoorlie is well known for its racecourse, grass sports ovals, and most importantly the Super Pit. This was Australia’s largest open-cut gold mine located just off the Goldfields Highway. It is the hub of activity in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

  • Thargomindah

    This is a remote small town on the south Thargomindah is an archetypal Aussie Outback town in the far south-western Queensland. If you plan a road trip across Queensland’s Outback, make sure you visit it.

Australian Outback Animals

The Outback of Australia is vast and abounding in amazing wildlife. There are so many wild animals that you will come across during your trip. Here are some that you should keep an eye out for.

Iconic Kangaroo of Australia

Kangaroos

When thinking of Outback Australian Animals Kangaroos come to mind first. These are the most iconic animals you can see hopping all over Australia. The red kangaroo is the largest kind that you will find while the grey kangaroo is the one you are likely to see most often. You can see Kangaroos in all Outback regions but and you have to pay attention at night, and not driving at night in the Outback it really something you should avoid.

Dingo

The Australian dingo is a friendly canine that is an integral part of the Australian Outback. This sandy coloured dog can be quite inquisitive and intelligent. They can easily be seen on Fraser Island, but since they are endangered there are certain rules to ensure that they are safe from harm. You can spot them in North Western Australia you can see them in the Red Centre area too.

Crocodiles

If there is one Outback animal that you should be wary of, that is the Australian saltwater crocodile. The home of the saltwater crocodiles is in the North of Australia, the Top End, and the Tropical North Queensland. Crocodile attacks have taken place in several parts of the Outback. That is why you should always be on the lookout for crocodile warning signs wherever you go. It is also best to stay out of muddy or deep waters. You can ask the locals about certain areas and get good information at the tourist information centres.

Australian crocodiles are most aggressive during the breeding season, September to May so be sure to watch out and steer clear of dangerous crocodiles.

Camels

Camels are widespread in most of the Outback Destinations. Although camels are not native to Australia, there is a huge wild camel population since they are suited for the Outback and in some places, you can even take a fun camel safari. There are many camel ride tours at Uluru, Broome and Broken Hill.

Wallaby

Wallabies are in fact kangaroos but much smaller and they too are widespread in the Outback. There are many different kinds of wallabies you will see and they also have different habitats. The rock wallabies can be found in areas with rugged terrain, rocky hills, or caves. Some species prefer grassy plains, or rainforests instead. The yellow-footed rock wallaby is one of the rare species that you can find in the Outback. You can spot them moving about in the Flinders Ranges. They are shy animals so do approach them slowly.

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Australia Outback Towns and Places to visit

More detailed travel guides

If you plan extended trips in the Australian Outback you can check out our travel guides about:

The Top End Northern Territory Australia

The Kimberley North West Australia

All Destinations of Australia

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How to explore the Australian Outback
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