Australia has become incredibly popular in the last 20 years. Whether you know of Australia through Hollywood portrayals in movies like Crocodile Dundee or Kangaroo Jack, through books like “Fatal Shore” or Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country” through the music of Men at Work or simply by eating at Outback Steak House, it’s a rare person who doesn’t hasn’t at least heard of the country that is its own continent. But for those who enjoy conquering nature and proving their worth, it is the Australian Outback that is an adventurer’s dream come true.
The Australian Outback is not an official location. You won’t find it on any map and there are no governmental boundaries that mark the beginning and/or end of the “bush.” But colloquially, the term “outback” refers to any area that lies beyond the main urban locations. More specifically, in today’s Australia, it refers to the more remote areas of the country that are sparsely inhabited and do not have any other use than as rangelands or wilderness areas.
While it may not officially exist, the Outback has become synonymous with the Northern Territory and, more specifically, Ayers Rock (known in the Aboriginal tongue as Uluru) and Outback adventure tours leave regularly from cities such as Darwin (at the Northern tip of Australia) for interior destinations such as Alice Springs, with side trips to opal mines and the Riversleigh fossil site as part of their itineraries.
Of course you don’t have to take a tour. You can strike out on your own by renting an all-terrain vehicle and following the ruggedly desolate Gibb River Road or take a canoeing trip through Katherine Gorge. You can drive along Savannah Way and sleep in your motor home or choose to stay the night in one of the small (but lively) motels you’ll find en route. Of course if you have the money you can hire a private plane to take you into even the more remote areas of the bush.
Once you have arrived at a location, you can choose from hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, whitewater rafting, sightseeing, hang gliding, hot air ballooning and mountain biking as well as extreme sports that will test your metal. Of course if these more robust activities are not for you there is always going on an animal safari to see many of Australia’s native species such as koalas, kangaroos and duck billed platypus in their natural habitats. In short, the sky really is the limit.
On a planet where there is so little wilderness left to the imagination, Australia certainly has its share, and you can enjoy it in so many ways. From camping in national campsites to joining adventure tours to hiring local guides to show you the sites of outlying Outback locations to following your own itinerary with nothing more than a guidebook and a GPS, the Australian Outback offers you a wide range of activities and adventures that you will be telling your grandchildren decades from now.