Outdoors and Adventure

Australian Outback Tours: Getting Down and Dirty Down Under

Filed Under: Australia, Oceania

In parts of the Australian Outback, it's possible to see the curve of the Earth's surface; at night, amidst this natural vastness, you can see more stars in the sky than almost any other place on Earth. The outback is begging to be explored, and we're showing you some of the best ways to do it.

By Bus
The most common way for travelers to experience the rugged Australian Outback is by partaking in a budget camping tour. Due to the popular demand for this type of exploration, there are a multitude of companies offering guided camping tours through the outback's popular Red Center.

Considered the heart of the Outback, Red Center is named for the location's uniquely colored soil. Here you'll find Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, an enormous rock formation that has become the iconic image of the Outback's rugged terrain -- and the number-1 destination for those exploring Australia's Northern Territory.

The town of Alice Springs, also situated in the Northern Territory, is the capital of the Outback. A community rich in history -- the Arrernte Aboriginal tribe have lived here for over 20,000 years -- Alice Springs is the perfect place to view the splendor of Uluru and Watarrka National Park, home of Kings Canyon. View the sites of this beautiful canyon from Kings Creek Walk, and then descend into the lush Garden of Eden, a pocket of beautiful cycads around a natural pool.

Most commonly, tours will guide you through the Outback terrain on a small 4-wheel-drive bus that accommodates up to 20 travelers. Western Xposure offers packages ranging from 1-day explorations to 32 days, traversing the Northern and Western territories. In addition to tours of Alice Springs, Uluru and Kings Canyon, Western Xposure will take you to many Australian cities including Margaret River, Kakadu and Perth.

Margaret River is a vibrant country town with some of the freshest produce in Australia. The bustling cafes of its city center are located only 6 miles from some serious Australian surf.

Kakadu is a perfect place for adventurous hikers. You'll explore Twin and Jim Jim Falls and sleep under Australia's amazing celestial ceiling. Visit the Warradjan Cultural Center to learn more about the Kakadu's intriguing Aboriginal culture.

Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, is home to some of the country's best beaches, bustling marketplaces and delicious restaurants. It's a great change of pace after you've been roughing it in the Outback for a few days.

There are more ways to explore the Australian Outback than you can imagine. Aussie Outback Safaris and All Terrain Safaris are just 2 of the companies offering comprehensive and all-inclusive tours of the Outback wilds. If you're traveling with your family or a group of friends, many of these outfitters will organize a private tour for you and your entourage.

By Saddle
A 4-wheel-drive vehicle isn't the only way to explore Australia's unbridled terrain. Hidden Trails offers guided horseback tours stretching across the Snow Mountains, the Bogong High Peaks and, of course, through the Outback. A highlight of touring the Outback with Hidden Trails is the opportunity to participate in an authentic cattle drive.

The Bushranger Ride, a 5-day, 4-night excursion, guides you through peaks, crevices and stretches of desert flatland with the added bonus of visiting an Australian pub for a cold one at the end of each day's ride.

Explore the Outback Camel Safaris is another way to saddle up and head into the Outback. Based in the central Australian desert, these tours operate from April through October every year. Your guides are experts in desert ecology and the cultural history of the Outback, creating an adventurous and educational desert safari.

By Air
There's no rule that a tour of the Australian Outback means you have to rough it. If you're short on time but flush with cash, book a private Australian tour in one of Big Blue Air Touring's luxury planes. Big Blue Air will custom build your flight itinerary to bring you the best of the Australian Outback. From cattle drives in South Australia's Flinders Ranges to private sheep stations in New South Wales, Big Blue Air delivers a taste of the rugged outback in an ultra-indulgent, personally catered atmosphere.

Meridian Tours also offers a luxury private jet experience over Australia. Their 6-day, 5-night tour shows you the best of the outback: Uluru; Red Center; Coober Pedy, the underground Australian town; and the vast El Questro property in Kimberley where much of 2008's "Australia" was filmed.

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