Outback Australia

Think adventure… think Outback Australia! For a lifetime’s worth of discovery and outdoors adventure, look no further than your own backyard for an incredible array of experiences – the perfect honeymoon destination for newlyweds who love adventure.

Discover the awe-inspiring beauty of the Australian outback, from the vertiginous walls of Western Australia’s Windjana Gorge and the diverse landscapes of the Kimberley mountain ranges, to the lush landscape of Kununurra and striped sandstone domes of Bungle Bungle.

What to do and see in the Outback

Explore the world’s oldest cave system, experience the cascading Miri Falls and stunning gorges in El Questro (photo), then swim amid the dramatic red cliffs and turquoise waters in Broome.

Cruise crocodile-infested rivers, soak in Katherine’s hot springs, encounter wildlife at Nitmiluk National Park and learn about ancient Aboriginal traditions and cultures.

In South Australia's Flinders Ranges, discover one of Australia's finest natural landscapes with an adventure across rugged peaks and through spectacular gorges that are more than 600 million years old.

Climb to the summit of Mount Remarkable for panoramic views over this ancient land, then hike through the deciduous trees of the Wirrabara and Bundaleer forests.

Discover charming historical towns by scenic railway or cycle the awesome Mawson Trail from the outskirts of Adelaide to Blinman in the Southern Flinders Ranges.

Northern Territories

Discover a choice of must-see sights and attractions in the Northern Territories, including the following Outback Australia icons…

Nitmiluk National Park

Discover impressive waterfalls, examine ancient Aboriginal rock art and spot native wildlife on a choice of bushwalks through Nitmiluk National Park.

Nitmiluk National Park covers an area of 2,920km² (1,127mi²) and boasts 13 gorges carved through ancient sandstone, including the majestic Katherine Gorge – the central attraction of Nitmiluk.

Previously named Katherine Gorge National Park, the park's northern edge borders Kakadu National Park and shares the magnificent Arnhem Land escarpment.

Nitmiluk National Park has some of Australia's most stunning scenery and numerous bushwalks from short to middle-distance and long walking trails, which cover many of the highlights of the park including wildlife, Aboriginal rock art and pristine waterholes.

You can explore the park on foot, by canoe, boat or helicopter. Paddle a kayak or relax on a guided cruise along the Katherine River passing beneath the magnificent red sandstone cliffs of Katherine George.

Spot wildlife, discover Aboriginal rock paintings, enjoy a refreshing swim in the pandanus-fringed natural pool at the base of Edith Falls or slide into the warm thermal waters of Katherine’s hot springs.

Explore the Northern Territory's only butterfly sanctuary and discover a colourful display of natural flora alongside the amazing collection of butterflies.

The Katherine region is a bushwalker’s paradise, with six national parks and many other reserves and conservation areas.

More than 100km (62mi) of walking trails traverse Nitmiluk National Park alone. Choose from short walks of 40 minutes to full-day hikes, or pack your backpack and head out overnight on the famous Jatbula Trail.

The gorges and surrounding landscape have ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who have maintained their traditions through the stories passed from one generation to another in the Dreamtime.

Nitmiluk – the Jawoyn name for Katherine Gorge – is pronounced Nit-me-look and literally means Cicada Place.

Nitmiluk National Park is located in the Northern Territory's 30km (18.6mi) north-east of Katherine and around 240km (150mi) southeast of Darwin.

More about Nitmiluk National Park

Kakadu National Park

Australia's largest national park – a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site – offers a landscape of contrasts, from roaring waterfalls cascading into serene pools to delicate lotus flowers concealing gigantic crocodiles.

Kakadu is famous for its different habitats, abundant wildlife and some of Australia’s best Aboriginal rock art.

Hike through the sacred Aboriginal Nourlangie Rock area, learn about the Dreamtime and mythology behind the art. Discover fabulous waterfalls and cool off with a refreshing swim at Boralba Springs.

Follow one of the many sign-posted trails to enjoy stunning vistas, waterfalls, plunge pools, wetlands and Aboriginal art sites. Explore sandstone galleries and examine priceless Aboriginal art dating back 40,000 years.

Wander among more than 1000 plant species and look out for thousands of magpie geese as well as red goshawks and the endangered gouldian finch, Australia's most spectacularly coloured grass finch.

For a good appreciation of the Park's traditional owners' culture and heritage, it’s best to start with a visit to either the Bowali Cultural Centre near Jabiru or the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre near Cooinda.

Kakadu National Park, is approximately three-and-a-half-hour's drive from Darwin – plan to stay in Jabiru or Cooinda and allow up to three days to see all the sights.

More about Kakadu National Park

Litchfield National Park

Discover one of the Top End’s hidden treasures, an unspoiled wilderness boasting diverse flora and fauna and impressive natural formations – all just an 90-minute drive south-west of Darwin.

Covering around 1500km² (580mi²), Litchfield National Park is replete with idyllic waterfalls, pristine swimming spots, beautiful walking trails and hidden natural wonders.

Here, you can explore lush monsoon forests, termite mounds, unusual rock formations and numerous stunning waterfalls.

Ponder the magnetic termite mounds, stroll between sandstone towers of the 'Lost City', wade through a series of rock pools at Buley Rockhole, cool off with a swim in the plunge pool below Florence Falls and browse indigenous arts and crafts at the Coomalie Cultural Centre.

Keep your eyes peeled for the hundreds of species of fauna. Wallabies, sugar gliders, quolls and flying foxes are all common, as is the dragon-like water monitor that can often be seen basking on rocks.

Spot the yellow oriole, figbird, pacific koel, spangled drongo, dollarbird and rainbow bee-eater that inhabit sheltered areas close to waterfalls.

Litchfield National Park's proximity to Darwin via the sealed Stuart Highway means it's an excellent day trip location – but overnight stays are also recommended. Allow up to three days to see all the sights.

More about Litchfield National Park

The Red Centre

Experience the Red Centre – an extraordinary landscape of desert plains, weathered mountain ranges, rocky gorges and some of Aboriginal Australia's most sacred sites including Uluru and Kata Tjuṯa. 

Here you can hike beneath the towering sandstone walls of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, explore the chasms and craters of the MacDonnell Ranges and visit sacred Aboriginal sites or encounter the expansive Simpson Desert by 4WD. To the west lies Finke Gorge National Park, to the north sits Halls Creek, with Rainbow Valley to the south.

Along the way, look out for some of the more than 415 species of native plants, 21 species of mammals, 178 species of birds, 73 species of reptiles and thousands more species of ants, spiders and insects that live here in the Red Centre.

The town of Alice Springs is often used as a base to explore the Red Centre. Alice, as it's commonly known, offers easy access to waterholes for swimming, world-class biking and hiking trails, historic sites and native wildlife experiences as well as an impressive range of accommodation options.

Must-see sights in the Red Centre, include…

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Enjoy the splendour of these stunning 900 million-year-old rock formations either on a leisurely stroll, from atop a camel or on a scenic flight.

Uluru, and the equally impressive Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the surrounding area are of deep cultural significance to the traditional owners, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal peoples who refer to themselves as Anangu. The Anangu officially own the national park, which is leased to Parks Australia and jointly administered.

The UNESCO World Heritage listed-site of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, are the two main features of the Uluru-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.

Walk to the Mutitjulu watering hole, see Aboriginal paintings and hear the Tjukurpa (dreamtime) story of Liru and Kunyia. Later watch the sun set over Uluru and discover its beautiful changing colours.

Visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Culture Centre to learn more about this fascinating region, including information about activities and an introduction into Anangu culture.

See a diverse range of art including woven baskets, punu (woodwork) and traditional paintings on canvas.

Located only 50km (31mi) from Uluru, the 36 rounded domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are just as impressive.

Rise early to experience the magic of a sunrise over the ancient sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta, then stroll on a guided walk to Walpa George and learn how nature created this spectacular rocky outcrop.

More about The Red Centre & Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Western Australia

Covering nearly 423,000km², the Kimberley region offers some of Western Australia’s most unique wilderness, as well as several coastal and outback towns that offer vastly diverse experiences.

This incomparable and ancient region is home to Purnululu National Park and Bungle Bungle Ranges, Mitchell River National Park, Geike Gorge National Park and Kunumurra. All are easily reached from Broome – considered the gateway to both the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

Explore ancient gorges, swim in freshwater pools under plunging waterfalls and experience the quintessential Australian landscape of blue skies, red earth, gum trees, wallabies and crocodiles.

Follow ancient cave systems in Tunnel Creek National Park, walk through the spectacular Windjana Gorge, cruise the vast inland sea of Lake Argyle and discover the world’s second largest meteorite crater at Wolfe Creek Crater National Park.

Don't miss the Kimberley's pristine coast where you can discover some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, untouched coral atolls and rugged islands – home to an amazing variety of marine life. At Rowley Shoals Marine Park you can swim with more than 650 species of fish.

North of Broome lies the Dampier Peninsula, accessible via the Cape Leveque Rd, a partly unsealed road that stretches 220km (136mi) to Cape Leveque.

Heading east from Broome, you have the choice of taking the Gibb River Road to Wyndham or the Great Northern Highway (GNH) via Fitzroy Creek to Purnululu National Park, Lake Argyle and Kununurra.

The mainly unsealed Gibb River Road – accessed by 4WD in the dry season only – offers access to the Mitchell River National Park and numerous hidden gorges, eroded ranges and sweeping savannah of the Kimberley interior and its remote northern coastline.

The bitumen, all-weather Great Northern Hwy (GNH) crosses the Fitzroy River at Willare Bridge, just before Derby, and tracks further south linking the Kimberley towns of Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, before heading north to the Purnululu National Park, Devonian Reef National Park, Lake Argyle and Kununurra. At this point, the GNH continues east into the Northern Territories.

More about The KimberleyThe PilbaraCape Range National ParkThe Ningaloo ReefKalbarri National Park… and Nambung National Park

South Australia

Step back in time in the Flinders Ranges, a 540 million-year-old landscape that offers a treasure trove of nature's bounty.

Located about 380km (240mi) north of Adelaide, the Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia. The discontinuous ranges stretch for more than 430km (265mi) from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna.

Here you can be surrounded by ancient mountain ranges, spectacular gorges and sheltered creeks only five hours drive from Adelaide or a short plane trip to Port Augusta, Coober Pedy or Wilpena Pound.

Explore caves and rugged, colourful gorges along the famous Heysen Trail or Mawson Trail that run for several hundred kilometres along the ranges, providing scenic long distance routes for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders.

Along the way, pass stands of red gums, spinifex clumps, eucalypti woodland, mallees and acacia. Spot yellow-footed rock wallabies, emus and western grey kangaroos, as kookaburras and galahs swoop overhead.

Take an aerial tour above Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre or above the awesome amphitheatre that is Wilpena Pound in the Central Flinders Ranges.

Several small regions in the Ranges have protected status. These include the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park near Wilpena Pound, the Mount Remarkable National Park in the south near Melrose, the Arkaroola Protection Area in the north, The Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park west of Quorn, and the Mount Brown Conservation Park south of Quorn.

The Flinders Ranges and Outback are of cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people who have lived in the Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years.

Discover nature's wonders at a choice of attractions in the Flinders Ranges including the following…

Ikara - Flinders Ranges National Park

Rugged mountain ranges, towering clifftops, spectacular gorges and sheltered creeks lined with river red gums bursting with wildlife are just some of the highlights that make this park one of South Australia's most popular destinations.

World-renowned for its geological history, Aboriginal rock art sites, impressive fossil remains and ruins of early European settlement, the park covers an area of 912km² (352km²).

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park lies northeast of the small town of Hawker and around 450km (280mi) north of Adelaide in the northern central part of the Flinders Ranges.

In 2016, the park was renamed to include the Adnyamathanha word, Ikara, meaning 'meeting place' – the traditional name for Wilpena Pound.

The park's most characteristic landmark is Wilpena Pound, a large, sickle-shaped, natural amphitheatre covering nearly 80km² (30km²), containing the range's highest peak, St Mary Peak (1170m).

Despite being a remote wilderness area, dusty-red roads and walking trails – including the famous Heysen Trail and Mawson Trail – provide access to the many lookouts, scenic vistas, small canyons and unusual rock formations located in the park. Camping is also permitted at many locations.

Lookouts include Wilpena Pound, Wilkawillina Gorge, Hucks Lookout, Brachina Gorge, Bunyeroo Gorge and Arkaroo Rock.

The park offers a wide range of activities including bush walking, cycling, scenic tours and bird watching, as well as Aboriginal cultural experiences.

Explore rugged mountain ranges, gorges and sheltered creeks crowded with River Red Gums and hike past stone ruins of early European settlement and Aboriginal rock art sites.

The area is teeming with wildlife and is renown for its geological history and impressive fossil remains.

Admire ochre and charcoal images depicting the creation of Wilpena Pound at Arkaroo Rock, an important Aboriginal art site located on the southern boundary of the Park and offering spectacular views of the Chace Range.

Experience 130 million years of history on a self-guided walk along the 20km (12mi) Brachina Gorge Geological Trail, known as a refuge for the yellow-footed rock wallaby as well as many species of birds and reptiles.

Or head to Sacred Canyon, a small rock fissure adorned with ancient Aboriginal rock engravings representing animal tracks, people, waterholes and other symbols.

Signage offers an insight into the formation of the Flinders Ranges and the evolution of early life forms.

Don’t miss the well-preserved Old Wilpena Station Historic Precinct, a pioneering pastoral settlement that operated from 1851 to 1985.

The park centre at Wilpena Pound is accessible by sealed road from Hawker. Other areas in the park can be reached by unsealed roads, which are mostly accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles except in bad weather or after heavy rain.

One of the best ways to experience the rugged beauty of this ancient landscape is on foot along a choice of tracks, including the following…

Read more about › Flinders Ranges

Best time to visit Outback Australia

Anytime. The sheer size of Australia – the sixth largest in the world – means there is always somewhere cool or warm to visit at anytime of the year.

The best time to visit the Top End, the Red Centre and the northern half of Western Australia is April through September, when you can expect clear sunny days with little or no rain and daytime temperatures range from 19°C to 31°C (66°F to 88°F). June, July and August are the high season months.

Around the desert environment of Alice Springs and Uluru you can expect a temperature range of between 14°C and 30°C. In the tropical north, the wet season from November to April often makes roads impassible.

On the other hand, the best time to visit Southern Australia is during summer from November to March.

Read more about › Australia's climate

Latest update: Outback Australia: 9 September, 2022