The term Outback is truly Australian and cannot really applied to any other place on the planet.
It roughly defines anything that is not urban in Australia – so basically 97% of the landmass which is only sparsely populated by people. Australians love their cities, and most of Australians will be found on the fertile Boomerang coast in the South-East from Brisbane to Adelaide as well as in other urban centres such as Perth, Hobart and Darwin. Everything else is considered the Outback.
More strictly speaking, Outback defines the extreme remoteness of the Australian desert. It’s the place where Aboriginal culture is still alive (although unfortunately deeply corrupted in many cases), where people live on vast cattle ranches the size of small kingdoms, and where social life, supermarkets, hospitals, mobile reception and schools are all but non-existent.
It is because of this lack of population and infrastructure that a trip through the Outback can be considered one of the last big adventures of our time. In the relative safety of our vehicles we can today travel long distances within short timeframes, enabling us to conquer even the remotest corners of the Australian continent. However, there are a couple of safety precautions that still apply even to this day: always carry enough water, in case of a breakdown do not leave your car, get up-to-date information on road conditions, don’t underestimate distances, etc.
Despite all these challenges, road trips through the Outback are deeply satisfying and memorable, and they can even be achieved when travelling with small children, as I have been able to prove myself.
Great Outback destinations include Uluru (aka Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (aka The Olgas) and King Canyon in the Red Centre, the Devils Marbles, the Pinnacles, a number of opal mining towns such as Coober Pedy, the Simpson Desert, the West Macdonnell Ranges, and Lake Eyre.
But it’s not so much the destination but rather the journey that makes the Outback so special.