What comes to mind when you think of Australia? Catching some waves on endless golden beaches, cuddly Koalas, visiting Sydney Opera House?
With all this and more on the brilliant East Coast it can seem a massive trek to head inland to the Outback and Northern Territory to see sand, (admittedly big) rocks and (admittedly red) dust. That’s what I originally thought before I set off on my spontaneous adventure earlier this year.
Travelling all the way from the UK just to see one of the most remote places on earth may seem rather insane and trust me; I was well aware that I could have been catching a tan on a beach in an exotic location somewhere.
So why bother?
The Australian Outback: Why bother?
Because being stuck in the middle of nowhere is fun
Australia’s Northern Territory is not only rich in culture and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal community, but it is home to some of the most stunning rugged landscapes that Australia has to offer. It’s famous for its natural landmarks, local wildlife and exceptionally warm summer weather.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s hardly any phone signal once you’re out there? No access to social media and no loud traffic. So worth it for the refreshing atmosphere that surrounds you. Bliss!
Living like a local.
My first stop was Alice Springs, which is also known as the spiritual heart of Australia’s outback. A small town with a population of roughly 25,000 people, Alice has strong historical roots and the area has been occupied by humans for around 30,000 years!
Before my trip even began I was lucky enough to stumble across the Todd Mall markets which take place on Sunday’s in the town centre. If you’re ever out there look out for the local town crier declaring the opening of the market which consists of a range of stalls selling everything from handmade arts and crafts to food. There was even a guy giving out free hugs.
My journey coming face to face with the raw natural beauty of the outback began with a pit stop at Simpsons Gap, a picturesque waterhole with towering cliffs and spiritual site to the Arrernte Aboriginal people. If you’re anything like me and grew up living a city life, the sights and general atmosphere that surround you at Simpsons Gap are guaranteed to take your breath away (and if you’re lucky you may even spot a Wallaby or two).
Walking through Simpsons Gap
If you’ve got the munchies…
Say goodbye to Vegemite and hello to bush fruits! Our next stop was an Aboriginal Bush Tucker tour where we got a fantastic insider’s view into the Aboriginal lifestyle and dreamtime stories that have been handed down through generations of Aboriginal people. Not only that, but if you’re brave enough you too could get to try a variety of bush fruits and bugs (yeah, I chickened out at this one).
Our guide also treated us to traditional Australian Damper bread – a type of soda bread that is common among travellers and the Aboriginal community. It’s cooked over a camp fire and great with a cuppa on a foggy morning in the desert.
Bush fruits. Believe it or not, that white one is a coconut!
Okay so you’re out in the red desert with a group of new people, the glistening rays of sunlight illuminate your path …a Kangaroo hops by. What do you do? You hike some more of course! The majestic Kings Canyon was a great place to start as its located 450 km south west of Alice Springs and a walk here lasts anything from 2-4 hours.
Seeing the sunset as we walked was the most fantastic experience, nothing beats that sense of accomplishment after a long hike and then being treated to a gorgeous view of the day turning to night over the canyon.
My personal highlight of that entire day however, was sleeping in an Aussie swag. The idea of camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but drifting off under what can only be described as a glittering sea of stars exceeded all expectations and has well and truly been ticked off my bucket list.
If you’re travelling to the Australian outback, the iconic 500 million year old Uluru is the one place you should make sure to visit.
The pièce de résistance of my trip to the outback was the 8 mile trek around Uluru where I learnt about its true cultural significance and symbolism to the Aboriginal community. This was then followed by a sunset champagne toast a (justifiably) popular activity! The perfect end to a perfect day.
Uluru in all its glory
They say something amazing always happens in between the moment of leaving comfort and confronting fear. Travelling to an unknown and “out there” place can be one of those moments. So if you’re ever wondering whether heading to Australia’s Northern Territory, or anywhere not considered a usual ‘holiday hotspot’ is worthwhile, pack those bags and go for it.