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What to Do in the Australian Outback

Updated on May 22, 2016
Uluru-KataTjuta National Park
Uluru-KataTjuta National Park | Source

The Red Center

When the word "outback" is mentioned, images of red sand and deadly animals pop into peoples' minds. It is the fear of the unknown. Many people refuse even the idea of visiting the Outback with a shudder and present me with a quick terrified list of all the deadly animals they can think of.

By taking the trip of a lifetime to the Outback, you'll discover that yourself. Whether you choose to go shopping for beautiful, fiery opals mined in Coober Pedy, or sip world-class Australian wines during cocktail hour in the desert, you will be stunned by the natural beauty that is found in the center of Australia called the Outback.

Sails in the Desert Resort
Sails in the Desert Resort | Source

The Resorts

Of course one of the most important things to plan for in any vacation is lodging. What is awesome about Uluru (main attraction/city in the Outback, also referred to as Ayers Rock) is the variety of places to stay. There is everything from camping to 5-star resorts, and whatever you choose, you won't be disappointed.

Ayers Rock Campground offers multiple options to truly enjoy the great outdoors and those looking for a good deal. You can pitch your own tent under the stars, stay in an air conditioned lodge or hostel, or park your caravan in a designated site. The Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge offer an authentic feel of the Australian Outback, along with the Emu Walk Apartments.

Uluru also offers several stunning resorts. Sails in the Desert is a beautiful, 5-star resort that houses a fantastic art gallery and gift shop where you can buy opals and Aboriginal art for all your friends who couldn't come on the trip! The Red Ochre Spa is also housed in this resort (you'll need this if you choose to do more extensive hiking). What is unique about this resort is its architecture-- sails are used as sun protection outside in the gardens and on the pool. The Desert Gardens Hotel is a beautiful 4.5 star resort with great views of Uluru and the winner of the Australian Tourism Award.

Whatever your travel style may be, Voyages Resorts at Uluru has a great variety of accommodations to offer.

Discovering the Desert

The summit of Uluru
The summit of Uluru | Source

The best ways to truly see the Outback are by hiking and exploring the area. The two rock formations -- Uluru and The Olgas -- are easily accessible and offer stunning views, remarkable experiences, and wild stories. Bikes can be rented and rode around Uluru (although a bus service does operate around the village and any tour you sign up for should provide transportation).Camel rides are offered as sunrise/sunset tours around Uluru herself, or short camel rides are offered closer to the village.

Uluru, the mammoth red rock which lies in the flat and desolate desert, is considered to be one of the main attractions, if not the main attraction of the Australian Outback. It is an iconic landmark and a World Heritage Site. Apart from making the treacherous climb to the top, there are many things to do at the base: tours in and around the caves -- that have awesome cave markings, ancient burial sites, waterfalls (if it has rained recently), and another village with more in-depth information about the Aboriginal people and culture.

The climb is not as easy as it looks or sounds -- if it even looks easy.The first part, which appears to be the only part, is very steep. It does, however, offer a chain to hold onto, which makes it possible. After the chain ends, you'll ask people how far until the top and they'll probably respond with, "Oh, not more than five minutes! It's not bad!". This is a lie. And you'll watch them continue, care-free on their way down as you're about to cross into the unknown. But before you call it quits and say, "This is all I need to do", because really let's face it, your legs are numb and lungs are burning from the dry air, think about how you're almost halfway there! And really, the view is 100x better from the top, especially if it's been raining. The top is more challenging because there are a lot of steep hills and no rails.It feels like there is no end and the other climbers on their way down don't offer any sort of accurate "how-far-away-am-I" time. But once you've reached the top, and look out across the horizon in every direction, you will see that the climb was worth it. The colors are stunning, as are The Olgas.

Tip 1: Take lots of bottled water in some sort of hands-free bag. The desert air is VERY dry, and there is no way to get water until back at the village inside the National Park. You will be miserable if you don't have it. Same goes for sunscreen. (But keep in mind there are also no restrooms at the base of the rock).

Tip 2: The winds are very strong against the side of the rock. Be prepared to get close to the sides and hold on.

Tip 3: The first 10 or so yards up Uluru is called "Chicken Rock". This is a steep part of the rock with no chain that you almost have to crawl up. Many people turn around here, hence the name, but keep in mind there is almost no part of the rock like that without a chain.

The summit of Uluru
The summit of Uluru | Source
An Aborigine woman tells her father's dreamtime story through artwork
An Aborigine woman tells her father's dreamtime story through artwork | Source

Shopping and Fine Dining

Many of the gift shops include beautiful and exotic jewelry, Aboriginal art, and fun souvenirs. The hotel gift shops sell the expensive jewelry and art, but the village shops usually sell prints and postcard versions of Aboriginal art. Shops in the village sell T-shirts, less-expensive boomerangs and didgeridoos, magazines, snacks, art supplies, post cards, sunscreen, etc.

In the Sails in the Desert resort, stunning jewelry featuring Australia's own opals, pearls, and crystals are sold. Fine Aborigine hand-painted canvases, boomerangs, didgeridoos are displayed for sale as well. There are two exquisite restaurants and one bar & lounge inside the Sails in the Desert.

In the village, there is a grocery store, a few convenience stores/gift shops, several small cafes, and a post office.

A fine dining excursion that offers an experience more than delicious Australian cuisine is the Sounds of Silence Tour. A bus stops at all the lodging destinations to pick up guests before heading out deep into the desert on dirt roads to the cocktail hour location. A lovely staff will greet you and offer drinks as the sun begins to set and casts shadows on Uluru while it begins to infamously change colors. A man plays the didgeridoo in the background, setting the ambiance while you and your new friends sip on a wide range of drinks offered at the bar. When dinnertime approaches and the sun comes close to setting, you will be guided to your table and offered the buffet. This buffet is absolutely beautiful. It features crocodile, barramundi, kangaroo, camel, all kinds of salads with local meat, fantastic sides, and dessert with wine. There isn't much lighting at all in this setting. There is one lantern per table, so it gives almost a creepy feeling, but it allows guests to fully see the stars and appreciate the quietness of the desert. After guests are finished eating, astronomers begin to tell ancient Aboriginal stories while pointing out the stars. It is a unique and beautiful experience that you will always remember.

A man plays the Didgeridoo during cocktail hour at Sounds of Silence
A man plays the Didgeridoo during cocktail hour at Sounds of Silence | Source
Sounds of Silence
Sounds of Silence | Source

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    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      Lauren,

      really great work that you have here

      very detailed and organized

      really goes into what you can do in the Outback

      also, there are very beautiful pictures

      Voted up.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      O I must sound like a broken record to those who know me....Australia's Outback is where I would like to visit..and then I would like to travel to other locations in Australia after that. This detailed info makes me really want to come there.

      Sending Angels to you this morning. voted up++++

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi there, this was a fantastic read! Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting!

      You can certainly write, so keep it up! Hope to see you around. Have a good day!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      More articles on Australia to come!

    • baja2013 profile image

      Bajazid 3 years ago from Sarajevo, Bosnia

      Love hubs like this one! Australia was always interesting for me and should be on an everybody's visit list. Desert is really attractive.

      Voted!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      This is such a nice hub about Australia. This is truly a lovely country. I hope I can visit someday.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is a very intriguing hub. You have aptly illustrated the fine points of Uluru. I learned so much from this hub. I hope to go there one day.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Nice hub, Lauren. So glad you took your camera with you! :)

    • maxmaster profile image

      maxmaster 3 years ago from istanbul,moscow

      nice tips

    • HendrikDB profile image

      HendrikDB 3 years ago

      In movies and in TV series they always picture the Outback as a desolated, barren place without any hope. This is indeed a beautiful new perspective - thanks!

    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 3 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Ooh, now I HAVE to go to the Australian outback someday. These pictures are awesome! I couldn't imagine actually seeing it in person :)

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      A great hub! There seem to be so much to see in the vast expanse of the Australian outback. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 3 years ago from Georgia

      Congrats on Hub of the Day. Fabulous pictures. I would love to be there during the Sounds of Silence with the telling of the Aboriginal tales at sunset. That sounds fascinating and beautiful to me. Thanks for a glimpse of Australian outback.

    • eurozulu profile image

      bradley brown 3 years ago from Harrow Middlesex

      Really great hub Lauren, some fantastic pictures, would love to go to Australia, just shared on Pinterest as well.

    • curiousworld profile image

      Ashley 3 years ago from Colorado

      Wow I love hubs like these! I've never really thought about a vacation to Australia but I guess now it will always be on the back of my mind. there are some really cool places there in the heat.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 3 years ago from The High Seas

      Makes me miss home.

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Congrats on Hub of the day! Nice hub, what beautiful pics and fascinating places to visit! Great job and thanks for sharing!

    • Night Magic profile image

      Night Magic 3 years ago from Canada

      Congrats on HotD.

    • Shaddie profile image

      Shaddie 3 years ago from Washington state

      Lovely Hub. People are so scared of animals, enough to completely ignore beautiful trips to beautiful places.

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 3 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      How I would love to ride a camel at sunset around Uluru or give a Didgeridoo a toot. I really enjoyed your Hub; voted up and interesting.

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! Yes, there is so much to see. I hope you can go one day!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      I'm glad you enjoyed it! It truly is an amazing place.

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! Yes, I agree, it is a must-see destination!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! Australia really is a great place for photographers! :) There's so much beauty to capture.

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      I agree, I thought the same about the Outback before I went. I'm glad I was able to see it for its true beauty though!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! Yes, it is truly fabulous! I hope you can go there someday! :)

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! There really is a lot to do out there!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! Sounds of Silence was an awesome experience, I recommend it. It really exposed the raw beauty of the Outback and it was a great way to learn about the culture too.

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! It really is a magical place to visit. I hope you can go there some day!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! Haha I agree. I know a lot of people who won't visit because of all the animals, but I think that just adds to the adventure! It really is a beautiful and exotic place to visit

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Thank you! I wanted more than anything to ride a camel around Uluru, but I spent more time climbing Uluru than I had originally planned for. By the time I got off the rock, I was so exhausted and sore that riding a camel didn't appeal to me! I'll have to do that another time. I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      I miss it too, I'm hoping to go back sometime soon to visit my family.

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      Interesting instrument. I believe I see one of these in a music video.

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      @mylindaelliott I believe they do use them in a lot of music. Many people don't know what they are or where they come from though!

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from New York, NY

      I spent about two weeks in Sydney three years ago vising my boyfriend's family and exploring nearby areas and we really loved it. It's time to plan another trip to the 'land down under' and this time to make it to the outback, using your awesome guide :) I especially want to visit the summit of Uluru - your pics are fabulous!

    • Lauren Savage profile image
      Author

      Lauren Savage 3 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      @Global-Chica I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Australia! Yes, I hope you can make it out to the Outback one day, and I hope my tips help! :) I know there's still a ton to do out there that I couldn't cover in this Hub. Happy travelling!

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