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The Outback


"When I called people back home and told them I was in the Outback, they all assumed I was having dinner at Outback Steakhouse."  Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
Outback

Here's the irony.  I've never even been to an Outback Steakhouse!   And for any of the clueless out there, the Outback Steakhouse isn't really Australian. 

The real Outback isn't a steakhouse, although I'm sure you can find plenty of steakhouses there since the Outback is home to some humungous cattle ranches, like Alexandria Station in the Northern Territory, which spans 4.4 million acres.

Outback map

It's a lot larger than a steakhouse, isn't it?

The Outback refers to any remote and arid region in Australia.  Translated into land area,  this winds up comprising most of Australia.   Australia is the driest continent on the planet, so it shouldn't be a shock that most of the country is Outback territory.  The map above shows an imaginary green boundary roughly shaped like the Australian continent.  Everything within this green boundary is considered the Outback.  Note:  This green boundary was drawn for instrumental purposes.  There is actually no official Outback boundary area, no official boundary which delineates that you've entered or exited the Outback.   After all, an arid remote region doesn't adjoin a fertile green and populated area.  Populated areas gradually give way to less populated areas which eventually become remote areas.

An easy rule:  if it's populated, has state-of-the-art shopping malls, and you can order fusion, Thai, and Korean cuisine, it ain't the Outback.  Over 85% of Australians live in the coastal areas stretching from Adelaide to Cairns.  Add in the population of Perth, and you've got over 90%.  Not so coincidentally, this corresponds to nearly all the areas outside the green boundary line. 

With most of Australia being the Outback, it is unforgivable for someone to visit the country and miss it.  Those doing the most common Cairns-Sydney leg will, no doubt, have a great beach holiday, but you can have a great beach holiday if you went up the Garden Route in South Africa or cruised up the American West Coast. 
traveling in the Outback Highlights Of The Outback

The Outback stretches into every Australian state and territory except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.  Nearly all of the Northern Territory and Western Australia is in the Outback, and the majority of South Australian and Queensland area is Outback land. 


We do not go into depth on each attraction here.  If the attraction warrants a longer discussion, it will be discussed under the appropriate Australian state or territory's unique section at Doug's Republic.


Listed in no particular order, mates:

Spirit of the Outback  Spirit Of The Outback train trip    Queensland
This 1,325 kilometer journey takes 24 hours and takes you into Queensland's side of the Outback, a part of the Outback most visitors, including Doug, didn't bother with.  You get to do all this in air-con comfort, for less than AUD 200.  For an additional fee, you can bring along your car on the train.


Alice Springs  Alice Springs      town    Northern Territory
This town, almost smack dab in the center of Australia, is not a highlight because it's such a wonderful place. Far from it. Culture and sophistication would not the first words used to describe Alice. All the same, a city this remote having the creature comforts it does is an achievement, and it's well situated for doing tours of both the picturesque East McDonnell and West McDonnell Ranges.


Uluru  Uluru and Kings Canyon    attractions   Northern Territory
Probably the most famous Outback attraction, this large sandstone rock formation is likely to bring more foreign visitors to the Outback than anything else. The 300 meter high walls of Kings Canyon, being so close to Ayers Rock (Uluru), also draw in the crowds, usually on the same tour.
 

Coober Pedy  Coober Pedy     town    South Australia
Another famous attraction. Coober Pedy is known as the opal capital of the world and also as a place where most of the residents live underground due to the intensely high temperatures.

Andamooka    Andamooka    town    South Australia
For a town of 600, a plethora of nationalities and types, including ex-cons, try to make a go fossicking for opal.  Many fo the residents mine on the side while working for the big Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine. 

Kalgoorlie   Kalgoorlie   town    Western Australia
For an Outback town, it's pretty 'happening.'  The Super Pit mine supports the economy.  Twenty-five pubs and hotels oozing with Outback history are there for your comfort.  I almost made it here before my second car got totaled.
the Outback
The exception to the rule

Kakadu  Kakadu      national park     Northern Territory
A huge national park the size of Israel.  It contains a producing uranium mine, more than 1700 planet species, Aboriginal rock art sites, and a diversity of habitats like floodplains, wetlands, stone country, and lowlands.  If you miss this park while Down Under, you're a moron.

Litchfield  Litchfield    national park    Northern Territory
Litchfield has some splendid falls and is only a two hour drive from the territory capital of Darwin.  If you make it to Kakadu, proving you're not an idiot, then you'll undo that wise move by proving yourself an idiot once again by not dropping by Litchfield when you're already so close.

Broome   Broome     town     Western Australia
Beach town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and site of the famous Cable Beach.  A welcome respite after driving up the near deserted coast of Western Australia or the sparsely populated areas from Darwin.

Karijini   Karijini       national park    Western Australia
Wonderful national park in the Pilbara region noted for its watering holes and gorges.  Relatively untouristed compared to Kakadu.

Broken Hill   Broken Hill     town    New South Wales
Few people think of New South Wales and the Outback in one sentence.  Sydney comes to mind a lot quicker.  Broken Hill is another mining town, this one located in the far west of the state almost near the border with South Australia.

Mt. Isa   Mt. Isa   town    Queensland
Mt. Isa would be Queensland's Outback equivalent to Broken Hill.  It's another mining town with a similar-sized population, with an annual rodeo and Mardi Gras every year.  Don't expect the Mardi Gras here to compare to the one in New Orleans.

 Outback


 

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