Where Or What Is The Australian Outback?

To understand what is the Australian Outback you need to know that Australia is one of the most urbanized countries in the world.

Our population is concentrated in the cities along the southern and eastern coast, or not far from it.

The only other "populated" region is the area around the city of Perth on the southern west coast.

And that's it!

The Australian Outback is just about everywhere else... 6.5 million square kilometres of it (or 2.5 million square miles), inhabited by less than 60,000 people...

It's impossible to answer the question "Where is the Australian Outback?", because it is not a precise location. The term Outback is used to describe the emptiness, remoteness, and the huge distances of inland Australia, and the fact that most people still don't know much about it...

You will find that not all Australians talk about "the Outback". The further away from the cities we live, the less we are inclined to call it the Outback.

Australians talk about "the bush" when they refer to wilderness areas outside the cities. As they move further and further away from what they know as the bush, they eventually cross some invisible line and find themselves in the Outback, the part of Australia they don't know, the harsh and unforgiving interior... (well, is it?)

Where exactly that line is located, and exactly what is the Australian Outback, depends on the individual person...

Those of us who live in the Australian Outback respect this country, and we love it. We love the fact that nature reigns supreme here, we love the unspoiled beauty, the space and the freedom... and we intimately know the places that many people call "the Outback". It's not harsh or forbidding to us...

For us it's a familiar place, it's home, and so "the Outback" becomes "the bush" again...

Ok, back to you:

I assume you are unfamiliar with Australia, or at least unfamiliar with the Australian interior, so it's all Outback to you...

Let's look at "Where and what is the Australian Outback?" from a tourist point of view:

The Red Centre

The most popular Australian Outback icon, and one that you probably want to visit, is Ayers Rock.

The awe inspiring monolith is located about 440 km south west of Alice Springs, also known as the "capital of the Outback" (despite the fact that the population is only about 30,000, give or take a few).

Alice Springs itself sits right in the middle of the Australian continent, as far away as possible from every major city, and every coast.

Australian Outback Highway When travellers mention "driving through the Austrailian Outback" they usually refer to the Stuart Highway.

The 3000 km band of bitumen dissects the continent and the Red Centre, connecting Adelaide in the south with Darwin in the north, with Alice Springs awaiting you half way.

The Stuart Highway is an excellent road, just very long... Alice Springs today is a modern town offering all creature comforts you expect in a tourism capital, and Ayers Rock has its own airport and resort. Tourism is well developed in the Red Centre, which means the Australian Outback is wonderfully accessible for you from here.

(A tip: there is a lot more to see around Alice Springs than just Ayers Rock...)

The Deserts

Track in the Australian Outback desert

Left and right of the Stuart Highway you find a lot of dry and empty space: The Simpson Desert to the east, the Great Victoria Desert, Gibson Desert, and Great Sandy Desert to the west and the Tanami in the north.

To cross any Outback desert in Australia requires a four wheel drive, and considerable preparation and planning.

Some Outback desert tracks are easier to drive than others, and there are many tour companies specialising in this sort of adventure.

Don't be fooled into thinking that desert means flat or boring... nature will overwhelm you out here, the landscapes are spectacular, and the Australian Outback deserts are full of life. A trip through the desert is something for the more adventurous. You will have to do without five star comforts for a few days...

Another well known Australian region that is sometimes referred to as a desert is the Nullarbor Plain in the south of Western Australia. The Eyre Highway crosses the Nullarbor from Adelaide to Perth, and is an excellent bitumen road with many services along the way, similar to the Stuart Highway. No four wheel drive or huge preparations needed here.

The Top End

Further north the arid climate gives way to distinct wet-dry tropical seasons, with corresponding plant and animal life.

The Australian Outback is not all desert. Swimming at a tropical waterfall

The north of the Australian Outback is characterised by rugged ranges and countless spectacular gorges.

Even in the dry season there are many natural rock pools and waterfalls to choose from for a refreshing swim after a day of exploring and marvelling.

Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, is a great starting point to explore the tropical parts of the Australian Outback.

The famous Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge are located up here, and further west you find the rugged and beautiful Kimberley plateau. I've seen the Kimberley called "the Outback of the Australian Outback", that's how remote this area is. (At least for others, I live here...)

Tourism is very well established in these regions. You can take your pick from the many accommodations and tours on offer for every budget.

So forget what they tried to make you believe in Survivor. You don't need any survival skills to visit us.

Love for untouched wilderness and beautiful landscapes is all you need to bring to enjoy a trip into the Australian Outback.

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