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6 Unique Ways to Experience the Australian Outback

outback new south wales near Broken Hill

The Outback of NSW near Broken Hill

Ever since I was a kid, watching shows on the Discovery Channel with my dad — like the ones that talk about how the most dangerous and deadly snakes and spiders inhabit Australia — I have been fascinated with the land down under, and even more drawn to that which is known as the Outback.

The Australian Outback. It's an area that is considered to be more remote than “the bush” and probably even further than areas out in “woop woop”.

Nothing generally lives or grows or exists in the outback except for kangaroos (and other marsupials), snakes, spiders, bugs, brush and the occasional crazy person that wants to live out their days in the middle of stinking hot nowhere.

Still, I love it. The Outback is an area encompassing the majority of the continent of Australia with this overwhelming sense of quiet.

If you're seeking a calming landscape to meditate or just get away from it all, then the Outback can suffice, and here are some ideas for getting out and exploring it.

australian cowboy

Australia jackaroo (photo by bookabee_tours_australia)

Become a Jackaroo or a Jillaroo

There are courses you can take (around 2 weeks) that introduce you to the workings of being a cowboy or cowgirl in Australia.

You can get to know the ropes and work on an Outback ranch for a truly unique experience.

Jackaroo Jillaroo Australia offers one and two week packages that introduce participants to horse riding, calf throwing, sheep shearing, and roping.

Once you've mastered the basics, you might even be able to find yourself a job doing the same.

panning for gold

Panning for gold in Sovereign Hill (photo by avlxyz)

Prospect for Gold

Mining for gold is popular in certain Outback regions, and the Super Pit mine over in Kalgoorlie quickly comes to mind. However, you, too, can try your hand at striking it rich while in the Outback!

A Miner's Right over in Western Australia is only $25, and with that you are able to dig for gold and other gems.

It might not be your idea of a nice holiday, but it does provide a unique way to experience the Outback.

indian pacific in adelaide station

Indian Pacific in Adelaide Station

Ride the Outback Rails

I've talked about my experience crossing the country by train, from Sydney to Perth, on the Indian Pacific, but you can also do the same, from Adelaide to Darwin, on the Ghan.

Both of these trains by Great Southern Rail cross the Outback of the country, allowing you to casually experience the beauty of the environment from the comfort of an air conditioned train.

One of the best parts of the experience is just being able to zone out as the colors of the landscape change, and while knowing you are thousands of miles away from work and stress.

underground motel room

Underground motel room in White Cliffs

Sleep Underground

A fun quirk of the Outback spawns from the unforgiving heat: underground houses and underground hotels.

While in such places as Coober Pedy and White Cliffs, you can enjoy a stay in an underground hostel, motel or hotel (one of the world's largest being in White Cliffs).

These cave-like dwellings are naturally temperature controlled, and often constructed from the fittings of an old opal mine.

outback golf

Outback golf (photo by robandstephanielevy)

A Round of Golf

The Nullarbor Links Golf Course is not your typical golf course! Spanning 1,365 kilometers, and reaching from Ceduna, South Australia to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, this course is the longest golf course in the world.

To explain that distance a little better, a simple drive on the Eyre Highway between the two locations takes 14 hours!

When playing this round of golf, you are on a pay-as-you-go method, meaning you can play a hole, drive on and then sign up for another.

Seems like a fun way to spend some time in the Outback if you're a golf fan of sorts.

Aboriginal art on a tour

Aboriginal art on a tour

Indigenous Tours

If you want to experience the Outback while also being introduced to the cultural heritage of the country, I highly suggest partaking in some indigenous tours.

Indigenous tours will often bring you face to face with some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes while putting you in touch with the people that have inhabited this land for centuries.

The Mardoowarra Way offers multi-day indigenous tours in the regions of the West Kimberley and Fitzroy River.

The Western Australia Indigenous Tourism Operators Council offers a number of resources for these tours.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Monday 9th of April 2012

Wow! Great read! I didn't get much of a chance to get into the outback when I was backpacking in Australia but now I know I'll have to make time. I live in New Zealand now so it's not too far off :)

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