Vast, unforgiving and mostly uninhabited...
But one thing's for sure: the Australian Outback is one of the most intriguing and beautiful places you'll likely ever see. With its sun-scorched gorges set against blue skies, remarkable monoliths, waterfall-fed swimming holes and ancient First Nations cultures, the Outback was practically made for adventures. Called us biased, but we reckon such places are best explored with the experts (read: locals) who know their way around and can share a tale or two along the way. Just don't forget to pack your Akubra.
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Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
The Outback occupies a whopping 70% of mainland Australia. It spans 5.6 million square kilometres, including all of the Northern Territory and a large part of South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales.
You might assume the Outback is hot and dry all year round. While it gets very hot in the summer, people are surprised to learn how cold winter nights can be – with temps often plummeting to zero. The climate varies throughout the Outback ranging from semi-dry tropic, arid and desert. Generally speaking, this means there are two seasons: summer which sees hot, humid days and mild nights, and winter which sees warm days and cold nights.
The Outback is stunning year-round, but winter (May-October) is considered the best time to visit for good weather. During these months, it's warm to hot during the day and cold at night. The conditions are near-perfect for hiking and exploring, and you won't spend your entire trip wiping sweat from your brow or battling with flies.
The Outback is vast and remote. The best way to get there if you don't have much time is to fly. Otherwise you'll spend far too much time on the road. There are daily flights between Alice Springs, Darwin, Broome and other Outback towns from most major cities in Australia.
The short answer is you’ll either need to self-drive or join a tour. The Outback is massive and public transport is scarce. Even with a car, you’ll often drive for hours without seeing another soul on the road. To give you an idea, Adelaide to Darwin is 3,000 kilometres and takes 31 hours to drive.
From arid desert to lush gorges filled with trees and natural watering holes, the Outback's landscapes are super diverse – and so is the range of native fauna that call it home. Some of the animals you can expect to see on your Outback adventure include:
- Saltwater crocodiles
- Frilled-necked lizards
- Sand goannas
- Thorny devils
- Australian feral camels
Layers are key. Breathable, long-sleeved pants and shirts are comfortable for walking, and they also double up as sun protection. You should avoid wearing light colours (unless you want red dirt-stained clothes to take home with you as a souvenir!). Other essentials include a good pair of hiking boots and/or runners, sandals, a wide-brimmed sun hat, bathers, sunglasses, sunscreen and a small daypack.
If you’re visiting in the winter (May-September), you’ll definitely need a warm fleece, long pants, a woolly hat and maybe some thermals as the temperature often dips below 0°C and it’s not uncommon to see ground frost in the morning.
We're committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.