It is worth learning a bit about the Australian outback before visiting. While ‘the bush’ is the term loosely used to refer to everything inland and away from Australia’s urban areas, ‘the outback’ specifically refers to the most remote regions, such as the desert.
The Australian outback contains many places of interest, including Alice Springs and Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, Coober Pedy in South Australia, Mount Augustus in Western Australia and the Simpson Desert.
The Simpson Desert is at the ‘Red Centre’, east of Ayers Rock, and is one of the most remote outback areas in the country. It is a massive expanse of land, covering around 170,000 square-kilometres and straddling the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.
There are no towns and cities here, just a few sheep stations and small Aboriginal settlements. Huge sand dunes are the main feature, some of which contain great walking tracks.
The best way to get about the Australian outback is on a four-wheel drive tour or in a rented vehicle. The better-known remote areas have main roads, even if unsealed, so journeys don’t require much planning.
However, more isolated areas require special preparation, and it’s best to have robust and reliable vehicle.
Having a map, supplies (especially water) and keeping fuel topped up are musts, as is reading about the Australian outback beforehand. Motorists should stick to the main roads unless they are well supplied, and have good hiking boots and lots of water in case of emergency.
December to January experiences extremes in temperature in the Red Centre, so avoid midday hiking.