When you think of Australia, it rarely comes to mind that the continent’s major cities and where nearly the entire population lives are on the coastline. Australia is about 7.7M km2, but only about forty percent of the land is inhabited. A large part of the continent, the inland area, is remote and away from the general population. This is known as the Australian Outback. The Australian Outback refers to the semi-arid inland areas of Eastern Australia and the center of the Western Plateau. Although largely uninhabited, the Outback has a lot of significance for Australia, especially for the Aboriginal people to whom it is of cultural importance. Surprisingly, the Outback has several tourist destinations that will make it an exciting place to visit.
1. An Underground town
So get this, there is an entire town that is mostly underground. Opal mining in the outback led to the formation of a town called Coober Pedy, an Aboriginal term that translates to ‘white man in a hole.’ Coober Pedy is home to approximately 2500 people, sixty percent of whom are of European descent. They are said to have moved here after the Second World War. The main economic activity in the town is mining, but tourism is a close second. People come to see and experience the exciting way of life adopted by the townsfolk of living underground to escape the harsh weather conditions of the desert. People here live in houses called ‘dugouts’ that are excavated in hillsides. One can experience a variety of wildlife in the area such as kangaroos, wallabies, perentie lizards, emus, sand goannas, eagles, bush turkeys, parrots, among many others.
2. Stargazing at Warrumbungle National Pak and Siding Springs Observatory
The Warrumbungle National Park is the first dark sky park in Australia. Dark sky parks are land that has distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environments that are specially protected for their scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and public enjoyment. A visit to this park will guarantee you a spectacular stargazing experience as you camp under the night sky if you want to get even closer to the stars, a visit to the world-renown Sliding Spring Observatory. The park is also a wildlife haven and is home to several animals native to Australia. There are also scenic rock formations that have been shaped by years and years of volcanic activities.
3. Staircase to the Moon
At Roebuck Bay in Broome, visitors can get to experience a natural phenomenon known as the Staircase to the Moon. When the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats at low tides, a beautiful optical illusion of stairs reaching to the moon is created. Aside from Roebuck Bay, other places where the Staircase can be viewed include the coastline at Onslow, Dampier, Cossack, Point Samson, Hearson’s Cave, and Port Hedland. The Staircase is visible through March and November, so there are plenty of opportunities to view it throughout the whole year. Just be sure to confirm the dates when it is best to view before setting out.
4. World’s longest golf course
Who knew that a highway would make for an exciting golf course? Nullarbor Links is an 18-hole par 72 golf course that has been dubbed the world’s longest golf course. It is made along the Eyre Highway that stretches 1, 365 kilometers along the southern coast of Australia. A single hole is played in each participation roadhouse along the highway, where you will find a green, a teen, and some rugged outback terrain. Golfers get to experience the Nullarbor Plains as they tee their way through the golf course. The course is appropriately signed, and equipment is available for hire at every tea. A plus is that you will also be able to experience the splendor of the Nullarbor Plains that includes wildlife, caves with fossils, and a short detour that leads to the fantastic sea cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. This drive is one of the country’s best self-drive road trips.
5. Walls of China?
No, this is not the Great Wall of China because that isn’t possible (haha). Instead, this is the iconic Walls of China at Mungo National Park in Australia’s Outback. The Walls of China are rock formations that were created by the erosion of the soft sand and mud on the lunette that leads to the creation of distinct ridges and cracks. These spectacular dune formations are a truly magical sight. The Walls of China are not the only captivation feature of Mungo National Park. The park is also a world heritage site where one of the most significant archaeological discoveries was made. The Mongo Lady and Mongo Man, fossil remains of early humans, were found there, together with fossils of giant marsupials and the most extensive collection of fossilized human footprints. There are various options for tourists who want to adventure in Mungo National Park, including tours offered by multiple native safari companies.
6. The Uluru
Perhaps one of Australia’s most iconic physical attractions, the Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), is a 348 kilometer high and 9.4-kilometer extensive sandstone that is estimated to have been formed nearly half a billion years ago in the Central Australian desert. At dawn and dusk, the sun’s golden rays give the Uluru unrivaled beauty. In addition to its physical splendor, the Uluru is also a cultural site for the Anangu people and their traditional law, Tjukurpa. The Uluru is a store of the Anangu people’s culture with stories and rock art from previous generations engraved in it. The monolith is also home to several indigenous plants and animals that can only be seen at close range
7. Flinders Ranges
If you are looking to explore the outback, the Flinders Ranges in South Australia offers one of the best experiences. The ranges are dramatic and beautiful that you may think that you momentarily left the earth and that you are touring the face of an unexplored planet. The area is rich in Aboriginal history and characteristics of the Outback. There is no shortage of wildlife. One can explore Flinders Ranges through scenic roads, walking trails, and 4WD tracks.
These are but a few of the features of the Australian Outback, as there is a lot more to be offered by the vast landscape. It is truly a remarkable place to visit and makes for a memorable experience, as well as a chance to experience nature at its most authentic.