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Backpacker's guide to the Outback

Backpacker's guide to the Outback

How to enjoy the delights of the outback on a budget

By Jessica Wilkinson & Lee Atkinson

This is the ultimate backpacker bucket list. There are hundreds of only-in-Australia experiences waiting to be discovered in the vast red Outback. If you don’t have time to do them all, here are 10 you must do.


See a Sunset at Uluru because, Australia

Uluru, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Red Centre, Northern Territory

What: Uluru
Why: If you’re in the outback, you HAVE to visit Uluru. You don’t have a choice. Sorry. Kthnxbai. 
Stay: Outback Pioneer Lodge


Walk the Rim of Kings Canyon and Feel Like a God

Kings Canyon, Alice Springs region, Red Centre, Northern Territory

What: Kings Canyon
Why: Peering over the edge of more than 100 metres (109 yards) above the desert floor is a pretty epic experience. Chances are, it’s one you'll never forget.
Stay: Kings Canyon Resort

Swim in a Desert Waterhole because, YOLO

Simpsons Gap waterhole, Alice Springs, Red Centre, Northern Territory

What: Simpsons Gap
Why: Because swimming in a desert waterhold is a once in a lifetime experience. 
Stay: Alice Springs YHA


Take a Casual Stroll Along the Oldest River on Earth. Whatevs.

Glen Helen Gorge, Alice Springs region, Red Centre, Northern Territory

What: Glen Helen Gorge
: History. The Finke River is said to be the oldest river in the world and that’s pretty cool, right?
StayGlen Helen Resort has backpacker accommodation.


Jump on Board a Camel and Ride into the Desert

Namatjira Drive, West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory

What: Pyndan camel tracks
Why: First of all, you don’t have to walk so that’s a plus and second, a sunset tour into the West MacDonnell Ranges on a camel is a pretty spectacular way to see the outback.
How: Book a camel ride here


Sleep Underground at Coober Pedy. Like, Under the Actual Ground, Guys.

Coober Pedy, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

What: Coober Pedy
Why: A must-see is Faye's Underground Home - hand dug by three women in the 1960s, this place is entirely underground and has a swimming pool in the lounge room.
Stay: Radeka Downunder Dugout Motel & Backpacker Inn


True Blue Grit: See an Outback Rodeo in Mount Isa

Mt Isa Rodeo, Mt Isa, Outback Queensland

What: Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo
Why: It doesn’t get more outback than a rodeo and this one’s a big one.
Stay: Travellers Haven Backpacker Hostel 


Cruise with Crocodiles - AKA Dinosaur Spawn - in Kakadu

Yellow Water cruise, Kakadu National Park, Top End, Northern Territory

WhatYellow Water Cruise in Kakadu National Park
Why: Because crocodiles are scary AF and are pretty much the closest to dinosaurs you’ll get
Stay: Hire a campervan and camp or join a tour from Darwin. 


Swim Beneath a Waterfall because Life is for Living

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park, Top End, Northern Territory

WhatWangi Falls at Litchfield National Park
Why: Because who hasn’t dreamed of swimming beneath a waterfall?
StayLitchfield Tourist Park


Active Much? Paddle the Katherine River

Katherine River, Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park, Top End, Northern Territory

WhatKatherine Gorge 
Why: Exercise meets sight-seeing
How: You can hire a double canoe for about AUD$40 per person. 

See the Country on the Cheap

Do it all, do it right