If you are like most people, you likely know that Australia is filled with kangaroos, koalas, that it has the Sydney Opera House and The Outback. Cameron Ernst mentions this on his blog, and he hit the nail on the head with the thought, as people who’ve never been to Australia don’t know what to expect.
The romantic notion of the ancient, remote, arid place riddled with picturesque red rocks and blessed with incredibly beautiful sunsets had always drawn lovers of the great outdoors to the Australian Outback. This vast space in the middle of the continent offers rough, rugged and raw, natural experience.
Many of the indigenous Aboriginal people have been calling it their home for 30.000 years and consider themselves the custodians of this unforgettable land. Terrain is harsh, and the climate unforgiving. Those conditions also contribute in some way to its raw beauty and make it a perfect getaway for an outdoors lover sick of the urban environment.
Besides peacefulness and serenity coupled with an almost primal sense of space and freedom, The Outback will offer you a chance to spend some time in an ancient place with breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. You can get a glimpse of the culture that managed to thrive there long before any hint of civilization existed in the rest of the world.
Here are some suggestions on what you shouldn’t miss if you plan to visit the Australian Outback:
Ayers Rock and Mount Olga
Ayers Rock, or the Uluru as the Aboriginees call it, is the famous picturesque sandstone red rock formation from the Cambrian period that rises 868 meters above the great plain of Red Center, about 450 km by road from the closest large town of Alice Springs. It is listed as one of the natural wonders of the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which alone should be reason enough not to miss it.
You will be able to climb the top riding a camel, fly over it or go hardcore and climb it yourself. Whichever way you choose, be sure to spend the night at the foothill if you have at least one camping bone in your body.
Uluru famously changes color throughout the day, most notably at dusk and down. It is sacred to the local Aboriginal people of Anangu and features many springs, rock caves, waterholes and ancient paintings.
Mount Olga, also known as Kata Tjuta or The Olgas, is a group of large domed rock formations relatively close to the Uluru. It consists out of 36 domes that span 21 km2 across the plain. Olga is deeply embedded in ancient legends and the local folklore, just as Uluru and almost any recognizable feature of the landscape in the vicinity is. One legend states that Kata Tjuta is a home of the great snake king, Wanamabi, who lives at the highest summit of Mount Olga and comes down only during dry season.
The Cultural Heritage
In case you are in the mood for something other than relaxing and enjoying the view, you could take a tour to one of the empty riverbeds where you can see some of the most valuable writings in human history – ancient engravings of the Aboriginal people of Anangu.
You will learn about Tjukurpa, the ancient law that describes the connection between all living beings, plants and the land on which they live on. You can learn about Aboriginal dot-painting in the nearby cultural centers of Walkatjara and Mulgara Gallery.
Devils Marbles, or Karlu Karlu as the natives call it, are gigantic rounded granite boulders including many balancing rocks scattered across a wide, shallow valley in a Conservation Reserve of the same name south of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. The Reserve is accessible all year round, with a network of pathways and a simple camping area made available for the visitors. Most of the Reserve is listed as a Registered Sacred Site.
Devils Marbles were returned to the Traditional Owners in 2008 and the Reserve is now managed in joint partnership between them and the Rangers. Devils Marbles hold a great cultural and spiritual significance to the Aboriginees. Although the area itself belongs to the peoples of Alyawarre, other peoples also share spiritual connections with it.
The top five Outback awakenings, according to Virgin Australia Airlines, are:
- 5. See the Sun Set on Uluru
- 4. Feast on a juicy witchetty grub on a Dreamtime and Bush Tucker Tour in Alice Springs.
- 3. Travel the spine of Australia from Adelaide to Darwin on the famous Ghan train route.
- 2. Float along the Northern Territory’s Katherine Gorge and marvel at the 70-metre-high rock walls.
- 1. Pick a winning horse at the annual Birdsville Races in the dusty desert town of Birdsville in outback Queensland.
I hope this article has given you ideas on what you can do in and see in the Outback, Australia. Have fun!