Top 40 Places to Visit in the Australian Outback
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We’ve hand picked 40 of the most iconic and unforgettable experiences inside the Australian Outback. This is our personal bucketlist of what we think resembles our Australian backyard.
Explore the magnificent locations and characters in the Australian Outback
One of the most iconic pubs in the country, the only thing that’s cold in Birdsville is a beer at the Birdsville Hotel. The only pub in town for the barely three digit population, the hotel is a welcome stop for those travelling on the Birdsville Track or across the Simpson Desert. During race week in September however, the town swells to between 5,000 and 10,000 people and the pub becomes the meeting point for all sorts of activities and shenanigans.
With top quality pub food and a classic Outback front bar (that’s only 25m from the airport gate too), the Birdsville Hotel is a must for those looking for an authentic Australian Outback experience.
Almost a six hour drive from any other major town, the Bungle Bungles is a stunning national park and a must visit destination for those doing the Kimberley. The only way in or out is a decent 4WD or a light aircraft. It’s well worth the travel, and watching the colours of sunset against the backdrop of the Bungle Bungles behind you is breathtaking. It’s famous for distinctive dome shaped towers that are made up of sandstone and conglomerates. The combined effects of wind and rainfall over millions of years have shaped these domes.
Our tour features a guided walk in this stunning area with bountiful opportunities for photographs.
3. Lake Gairdner
Another stunning dry lake in South Australia, Lake Gairdner is considered to be the third largest salt lake in Australia. The annual Speed Week event has land speed runs held on Lake Gairdner’s salt flats on it’s dryer years. In contrast to Lake Eyre, Lake Gairdner is surrounded by the Gawler Ranges which provide a great perspective to contrast the lake against on the horizon.
Lake Gairdner is in an extremely remote location with the nearest town being more than 100 kilometres away!
Regularly voted in the top ten for Outback Pubs in Australia, the Prairie Hotel is one of our favourite destinations. Publicans Ross and Jane Fargher go to extraordinary lengths to ensure their guests feel welcome in the hotel, with first class rooms that combine modern elegance with the heritage and history of Parachilna. The restaurant is renowned for serving local road kill (just kidding, but they do serve plenty of Australian fauna), with emu, kangaroo, goat and lamb featuring on the menu.
Behind the hotel is the stunning Flinders Ranges, which make for a stunning backdrop for sunset drinks on the front porch.
5. Lake Eyre
Officially known as Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, it is the lowest natural point in Australia. Approximately every 8-10 years it receives a substantial amount of water from Cooper Creek and the Diamantina River allowing it to fill, and when it does completely fill becomes the largest lake in Australia. It’s the ultimate destination, contrasting both the harsh climates of the Australian Outback with the ability for life to thrive in almost any condition.
When it’s dry, the lake has an expansive white salt layer as far as the eye can see. When it’s wet, it’s full of exotic bird life and greenery.
Lawn Hill National Park has beautiful sandstone ranges carved with deep gorges among a limestone plateau. It’s a complete contrast to the harsh Australian Outback, you’re stepping into a sacred aboriginal territory teeming with water, life and lush green trees. Our 14 day Kimberley tour takes you on a delightful walking track followed by an exploration of the gorge systems by canoe.
It’s a great spot for a swim, with water coloured by minerals from the gorge and perfect temperatures. Watch out for the occasional crocodile though, fresh water crocodiles inhabit the area, and, although not a danger to humans, have been known to scare unsuspecting visitors.
Paradise is just 1hr 45min away by plane. A crescent shaped island, it houses world-class hikes, spectacular surroundings, crystal clear water, snorkeling with exotic fish and much more. It’s a multi award-winning destination truly fit for kings.
If you’re after a week away in one of Australia’s beautiful islands, Lord Howe NEEDS to be on your radar!
One of the world’s greatest wonders, Uluru is set within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. A sacred land to indigenous Australians, the closest large town is Alice Springs over 400km away.
Uluru is one of the most recognizable natural landmarks of Australia and truly an icon for the Australian Outback. Be sure to also visit Kata Tjuta (commonly known as the Olgas) which make for a great day trip while staying near Uluru.
Located in South Australia, a protected wilderness sanctuary in the rugged north Flinders Ranges. Originally carved out from land that was considered unsuitable for farming, the area has a history of Radium mining prior to it’s sanctuary days. Now a reserve for nature, it boasts spectacular mountain views and towering granite peaks, accessible by open air four wheel drive.
Tour legend, chief pilot, scientist and local legend Doug Sprigg is well worth meeting on your visit. You’ll come away with an extra IQ point and a big smile on your face.
10. Kangaroo Island
The third larges island off the coast of mainland Australia, Kangaroo Island has a pristine wilderness that boasts an abundance of native Australia wlidlife. Visitors travelling to Kangaroo Island are recommended to stay for longer than 2 days as the Island offers a large amount of activities and places to explore.
A great place to visit offering guided tours, wineries, distilleries, basking sea-lions and much much more!
11. William Creek
Located just east of Coober Pedy in South Australia, William Creek is a town of 6 people that has an exceptional pub, a well kept airstrip and a campground! A welcome stop on the Oodnadatta track, town mayor and publican Trevor Wright has worked to build William Creek up for the past 20 years and continues to improve amenities and services. March 2017 saw mobile coverage finally reach the town thanks to Optus.
Make sure to bring a business card to staple to the wall of the pub, where you’ll take your place along with countless others who’ve visited over the years.
12. Katherine Gorge
Also known as Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine Gorge is located in the Northern Territory. It has a series of 9 beautiful gorges covering a vast area with expansive views at every turn. You can experience the Park by boat, canoe, foot or helicopter.
A tip from one of our pilots, Nick – “If you’re up for an adventure, canoes can be hired overnight, with camping facilities available at some of the gorges further up the river. Depending on the water levels, you may have to take your canoes a few hundred metres across rocks. Sunrise over the gorge is simply stunning, and definitely one of the highlights from some of my own personal touring up in the Northern Territory.”
The second largest ancient dry lake in Australia, Lake Mungo offers an amazing landscape and a rich history to travellers. When you step into Lake Mungo National Park, you’re stepping into Australian history.
The thick layers of sand buried here breathe a story of how the land has changed. It’s also home to an important archaeological discovery – the oldest known human (Mungo Lady) in Australia to have been ritually buried.
14. Kings Canyon
Located in the Northern Territory, Kings Canyon offers an unspoiled wilderness experience. It’s walls are over 100 meters high and stand tall surrounding you with opportunities for majestic photo opportunities. We recommend that visitors take a stunning hike around the rim early in the day, and to remember to bring a packed lunch for the Garden of Eden.
15. Mount Borradaile
Located in Northern Territory, Mount Borradaile is home to Davidson’s Arnhemland Safari Lodge. It’s a registered aboriginal sacred site filled with billabongs, rock art and wet lands that offer phenomenally picturesque views.
If you’re after an experience where the walls themselves tell you tales from thousands of years ago then make sure Mount Borradaile is on your radar!
16. Mount Isa
Located in Western Queensland, Mount Isa is an operating mining town. The entire town is dwarfed by the mine, and by night you can see the whole mine lit-up and continuing to operate. Don’t let that deter you though, it’s got plenty to offer visitors, with seasonal rodeos, Lake Moondarra and a well run visitors centre.
Looking for a great spot for sunset drinks? Head east along the Barkly Highway for ten minutes and turn off when you see the Telstra tower. Driving up the hill reveals a vantage point looking west toward the town.
Located in North Western New South Wales, Tibooburra is a small town with a great pub and family operated hotel. If you’re looking for a refuel stop, Tibooburra is a great spot, so great you might even end up staying the night in the family hotel or the Tibooburra hotel!
There are also a number of beautiful granite outcrops in the area making for wonderful photo opportunities.
18. Bullo River
Located in the Northern Territory, Bullo River is a haven for wildlife and adventurers looking to experience the Australian Outback first hand. It’s a cattle station with lots of wildlife, crocodiles and aboriginal art. Guests have a variety of activities on offer, but it’s known for Barramundi fishing, with guests of all abilities able to catch their own dinner.
19. Wolfe Creek Crater
Made famous by the murderous Mick Taylor in the 2005 film Wolf Creek, Wolfe Creek Crater is a meteor impact site south of Halls Creek in Western Australia. The crater itself is approximately 900m in diameter, with a a large rim and growth contained within it. It’s particularly notable as being one of the most obvious meteorite impact sites in the world, as, due to it’s location away from mountainous areas and in a desert, it has not been eroded over time.
While you can fly over it on a private tour, we strongly recommend driving and visiting on the ground – it’s a unique perspective and give more time to explore. You do have to run the risk of meeting a psychopathic local though, although we think it’s worth the risk.
20. Alice Springs
Alice Springs is hub for the Northern Territory that’s hugely popular for tourists looking to visit both Uluru. Alice Springs has it’s own beauties though – it’s surrounded by hills and being right next to the Macdonnell Ranges gives life to a number of scenic walks and tours.
July sees the Alice Springs show bring guests in from both the surrounding communities as well as across the country for a two day agriculture and cultural show.
21. Macdonnell Ranges
The Macdonnell Ranges is a beautiful mountain range providing photographers with panoramic photo opportunities at every turn.
It’s also home to the pine gap, a satellite defence station and a substantial amount of aboriginal culture. Visit the Macdonnell Ranges and take a glimpse into Australia’s history.
22. Malaleuca (Tasmania)
Located far southwest in Tasmania, Malaleuca is a hidden gem accessibily only by sea, air or foot. And in case you’re thinking about hiking there, it’s a 10 day hike.
In this surreal and quiet part of Tasmania, views are expansive, magnificent and untouched. A must go for any avid hiker.
Located in Western Australia, Esperance is a town on the Southern Ocean coastline. It’s home to numerous white beaches that offer surfing and scuba diving.
It’s a must go for many adventurous surfers as rumours hint at the monstrous waves that can only be found in Esperance.
24. Cameron Corner
The intersection of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, this iconic location is on the bucketlist for a lot of Australians.
There isn’t much to the place, with a local homestead offering meals and supplies, a campground and an airstrip. Cameron Corner also hosts tri-state golf, where you can play three holes in each state.
A settlement located near the border in eastern South Australia, Innamincka is a popular stopover for those travelling north to Birdsville. The Cooper Creek is one of the streams that supplies water to the Lake Eyre basin. It’s the perfect point for us on our Taste of the Outback Tour to land at (Innamincka) and take a boat cruise care of the team at the Innamincka Hotel.
The Burke and Wills expedition also passed through what is now Innamincka on their fateful journey, and the nearby Dig Tree is only a short drive (or flight) away.
26. Wilpena Pound
Located inside the Flinders Ranges, Wipena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains located 430 kilometres north of Adelaide, South Australia. Originally used to contain stock (thanks to there being only one pass into or out of the pound), farming attempts were abandoned and the tourism potential of the area was realized.
27. Lake Argyle
Just north of the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia is Australia’s second largest man-made fresh water reservoir. Venture down the winding road as you visit one of the last locations for the amazing Kimberley attractions. Lake Argyle offers panoramic views at the end of one of the most scenic drives in Australia.
28. Simpson Desert
Home to the Big Red. It’s the fourth largest Australian desert and is the world’s largest sand dune desert. An extremely popular spot for tourists that venture to Birdsville is the Big Red which is one of the first sand dunes as you travel into the Simpson Desert. An extremely beautiful spot offering majestic views that give you a taste of not only the harshness of the Australian Outback but also the beauty that’s hidden in our very own backyard.
Situated on the coast in Western Australia, Broome is a popular tourist location with lovely white sandy beaches and beautifully warm weather throughout the winters. Photos don’t really do this place justice, with a fantastic atmosphere and beautiful sunset views out to the west from the beach.
A hub for adventure on the peninsula, Broome offers activities for visitors from all walks of life.
Located in the far northern Western Australia, Kununurra is an agricultural town situated among scenic hills and ranges in the Kimberley region. We recommend taking a cruise on the Ord River, with sunset cruises providing stunning colours and plenty of wildlife. Kununurra is a great base for exploring the greater area, with Lake Argyle and the Bungle Bungles to the south and El Questro station to the west.
31. Cape Leveque
Located just north of Broome on the northern tip of Dampier Peninsula, Cape Leveque is one of the iconic locations inside the Kimberley. There’s a wonderful luxury resort offering travellers majestic views and a great overnight stay!
The drive to Cape Leveque can be rough but another other option is to fly there, making for a much easier and more enjoyable stay.
Picturesque cruises, fishing tours and 4WD adventures are located in Cooinda in the Northern Territory. Kakadu National Park is an experience that highlights all the great things about the Australian Outback. We recommend that visitors take the cruise on Yellow Water, with sunset being the time of choice for those looking to see crocodiles on the Alligator River.
33. Lichfield National Park
Located just south of Darwin. Lichfield National Park is home to some stunning waterfalls that flow naturally throughout the park. It also features stunning but easy walks and is a very popular destination during the dry season with tourists.
Don’t be afraid to go on the edge of the season though, it’s a lot more quiet!
34. Noccundra Hotel
Not that we’re at all biased here, but we love pubs with an airstrip! It’s such an Australian phenomenon, and the Noccundra Hotel is another one of our favourite fly in destinations. Located in South Western Queensland, its a popular stop for light aircraft on their way to Birdsville. You can pull your plane right up to the pub and tuck into some quality tucker as well as a beer (providing you’re done flying for the day). Accommodation is also on offer.
Although not what you’d consider your traditional outback town, Jindabyne’s location up in the Australian high country exposes it to some pretty extreme conditions. In winter it’s a popular base for those visiting the nearby Perisher and Thredbo ski resorts, and whilst quieter in summer, it’s popular for water sports with Lake Jindabyne sitting next to the town. Hiking and fishing also bring visitors to the town out of the snow season, making it a destination for those keen to get outdoors for their holiday.
It’s also home to an outback airstrip, with a gravel strip set on a small plateau near the town.
Located in the Central West Queensland, Longreach is home to the Qantas Founders Museum. It was one of the first bases for Qantas and now displays several decommissioned planes. It’s also home to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, showcasing the history and culture of life in rural Australia.
Longreach isn’t just a town, it’s a slice of Australian history.
Located in Western News South Wales, Whitecliffs is a small town that is ironically known for it’s white cliffs. An absolute hub for history, events and attractions.
An iconic underground motel operates in Whitecliffs offering visitors with an opportunity to stay in one of the underground “dugouts”. There’s also an extremely popular Australian Outback music festival held in the Whitecliffs annually pulling in artists and crowds from all over Australia.
38. Coober Pedy
A town located west of Lake Eyre, Cooper Pedy is often referred to as the “opal capital of the world”. A number of locals prefer to keep cool by living underground because of the unforgiving summer temperatures of the Australian Outback, with the mercury on the ground routinely nudging 50 degrees or more. Visit in June through August for the nicest temperatures!
Taking a tour into the underground mines, graveyards and underground churches has become a popular attraction for tourists.
Stunning hikes around the rim and through the pound offer a challenge to experienced hiker, whilst shorter walks from neighboring Rawnsley Park Station are also on offer. Visit in the morning during winter to see frost and fog contained by the surrounding landscape.
39. Carnarvon Gorge
A winding oasis within the heart of the harsh Australian Outback. Backed by steep sandstone cliffs, the Carnarvon Gorge is a wealth of culture and heritage created by millions of years of water erosion.
The sandstone formations on the gorge host an abundant amount of wildlife and greenery that can be soaked in through a picturesque walk.
40. El Questro Station
El Questro is a tourist destination to the west of Kununurra and offers a luxury travel experience paired with an opportunity to explore beautiful and rugged areas of the Kimberley. From waterfalls to the stunning gorges they fall into, there’s so much on offer, and with a stunning homestead to return to each day (or camping opportunities as well), it mustn’t be missed when exploring the Kimberley.
That’s our top 40 Places to Visit in the Australian Outback
If you’re interested in going to any of these places or looking for more information on particular ones, feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call and we can connect you to one of our experienced Australian Outback pilots!
Click here to read 5 reasons why your next holiday should be in your backyard!
A huge thank you for a truly marvellous three days. So well looked after by Tony, nothing was too much trouble, accommodation and meals first class. Amazing views of our beautiful country and a further insight into the lives of the people who live in remote places.