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Take a joy flight over the outback

Get a bird’s-eye view of the South Australian outback on these unforgettable scenic flights.

By Simon Webster
Published: 01 December, 2017

There’s no denying it: the South Australian outback is a really big place. Take to the air to get a real sense of its awe-inspiring vastness and to soak up incredible views of deserts, mesas, painted hills and Australia’s biggest lake. 

Cruise over Coober Pedy and the Breakaways

Wrightsair plane, Coober Pedy, South Australia

The opal mining town of Coober Pedy is famous for its subterranean lifestyle: many residents live underground to avoid the summer heat in this iconic desert town. 

But Coober Pedy is also spectacular from the air, as you’ll discover if you hop aboard a 30-minute flight taking in the town and a low-altitude tour of the nearby Breakaways – a stunning landscape of mesas and stony desert.

“We fly as low as 500 feet if passengers want us to, for some very cool views,” says pilot Mariano Salvati.

Fly over Australia’s largest lake

Wrightsair scenic flight, Lake Eyre, South Australia

Lake Eyre – also known as Kati Thanda – is another iconic Australian landmark. This enormous basin, covering 9500 square kilometres (3668 square miles), is usually dry, but changes character dramatically when it gets some water. 

A flight over Lake Eyre is an amazing experience either way. “Both experiences are beautiful,” Salvati says. “When there’s water in it, the lake is absolutely gorgeous, surrounded by all this desert country. When it’s dry, you get beautiful colours and patterns that you don’t see when there’s water.”

You can take various flights over Lake Eyre from the outback town of William Creek, as well as other locations around the lake. 

Picture the Painted Hills

Wrightsair scenic flight, Anna Creek Painted Hills, South Australia

To see the Anna Creek Painted Hills, you have to take to the air. These naturally formed sandstone sculptures are on private property – and not just any property, but the world’s biggest cattle station, which covers about 24,000 square kilometres (9300 square miles), so it’s not like you can just peek over the fence. Plus there are no roads out here, in what is one of the most remote parts of the world.

Salvati says these incredible sandstone hills look particularly dramatic on a cloudy day. “On an overcast day, the sky provides a great contrast for photography. But they’re spectacular in any weather.”

How about a game of outback golf when you land back on earth?