For many, Australia is one of the most intriguing places in the world. It has the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, enough beaches to satisfy the keenest of sun-worshippers and, of course, the Outback. This huge and remote area makes up the interior of Australia and is largely unpopulated, in contrast to the coastal regions in which roughly ninety per cent of Australia’s population live.
For fifty thousand years prior to the first colony being established in Australia, in 1788, the Outback has been home to the country’s indigenous, Aborigine population. As the British laid claim to the land the indigenous people began to be displaced, but those in the Outback remained largely unmoved. Today around 700, 000 remain. With numerous Aboriginal communities, each boasting their own language, culture and belief systems, ways of life are diverse, living largely off the land and rejecting modern practices.
The Outback is now a hugely popular travel destination for those looking to see a little more than just the many beaches and bars up and down the country. (And believe me, there are plenty!) So, is there anything to see other than endless plains of sand? Well, in fact, yes. A lot! For all you star gazers out there, the Outback has around 5, 500 stars. With its many views of uninterrupted constellations, the Outback is one of the best places in the world to practise your astronomy. So, grab a blanket and settle in.
Many of the popular ideas about the Outback can prove misleading. For example, often thought of as a relentlessly hot stretch of land, the temperatures in fact range greatly from the swelteringly hot to the fiendishly cold. In the summer, it can get as hot as fifty degrees and then drop to a staggering minus ten in winter. Be very careful when organising your trip that you pack accordingly.
And then there’s the creepy crawlies. With horror stories telling of different snakes and spiders causing imminent death, the Outback isn’t the hotbed of danger one might think. The deadliest spider, the funnel-web, is actually found in Sydney, not the Outback. Keep your eye out though, there’s still plenty to be wary about!
The wildlife is one of the major draws to the Outback, with many animals found there not popular in other areas of the world. There are red kangaroos, dingoes, and even camels, to be found across the Outback. It is important, though, to get a guided tour to see much of the wildlife as many animals are difficult to see at first, preferring to stay in the bushes to shelter from the sun.
Animals haven’t always been popular in Australia’s Outback. When English settlers started arriving in the nineteenth century, they brought with them animals such as rabbits who found Australian conditions ideal and began to spread widely. Soon, they posed such a nuisance that the government were issuing rewards for anyone able to discover a successful way to exterminate them. Attempts proved unsuccessful and it wasn’t until 1901 that a fence was erected to keep rabbits away from the pastoral lands in Western Australia. Six years and two fences later, the Outback had its own ‘pest-exclusion’ fences designed to keep certain species away from different regions. The first fence, the so-called ‘Dingo fence, is the longest fence in the world at a gigantic 5, 531 km long.
If you’re looking to take a quiet break from experiencing all the new and exciting wildlife the Outback has to offer you can make a stop-off at any one of its many small towns. A popular destination is Wagga Wagga. Referred to as the Garden City of the South, this city provides the perfect break within your trip, boasting beautiful tree-lined streets and award winning gardens.
A trip to the Outback will offer you the opportunity to see and do things like almost no other place on earth. Whether it is catching a glimpse of animals you have never heard of, let alone seen, gazing longingly at the stars or visiting one of the towns dotted across the Outback, there is always something to keep you occupied. With cheap flights to Sydney occurring year round, you can fly to the city and then make your way east to start your trip of a life-time. If you are short of time, the flight to Alice Springs is the best way to go. If not, take your time on the drive, stopping off on the way. There’s even one stretch of road in Nullarbor that is straight for 140km. So strap yourself in, check out the views and get moving!