As exciting as planning a trip to Uluru is, packing for such a remote destination can be tricky, especially when the temperature varies significantly. What’s the most suitable clothing for the Outback? Will I need warm layers? Is a head net (for pesky flies) really necessary?
Fear not. Here’s everything you’ll need for your Red Centre adventure, no matter what time of year you’re going.
What on earth do you wear in the Outback? Answer: layers. Layers are key as the temps fluctuate throughout the day, ranging from 20-35°C in summer and 5-25°C? in winter. Wear light, breathable layers during the day (shorts, leggings, t-shirts, etc.), but pack a hoodie or jumper and a pair of track pants for sunrise as it can be fresh (even in summer).
You’ll need even warmer layers if you’re visiting between May and September. T-shirts and shorts are fine for the day, but tie a hoodie or fleece around your waist as it can get chilly in the shade. The temperature can drop below zero at night, so we recommend a down jacket, beanie and warm pants for sunrise and sunset.
Tip: Avoid bringing anything white as the red dirt stains clothing easily.
2. A smart casual outfit
If you’re heading to the Field of Light or going for dinner at one of the resorts, you might want to ditch the leggings and walking boots for something a little smarter. The Outback is very low-key, so jeans and a shirt will do just fine. If you'd prefer to stay in your hiking attire, that's totally fine too!
3. Walking shoes
The terrain in the Outback is rugged and dusty, so you’ll need a trusted pair of walking shoes. Hiking boots are recommended (especially if you do some of the longer walks at Kata-Tjuta or Kings Canyon), but runners with decent sole tread should do the job. If you buy new walking shoes before the trip, ensure you break them in beforehand to avoid blisters.
4. Thongs or sliders
A pair of thongs or sliders are great to slip on at your campsite or hotel to give your feet a breather. They’re also handy if you swim at Ellery Creek or Ormiston Gorge – squashing your damp, sandy toes into sweaty socks and boots is never fun.
5. Hiking socks
If you’re clocking up the kilometres, it’s worth buying a few pairs of proper hiking socks. They make all the difference as they’re designed to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
6. Head net
A word of warning: there are flies in the Outback, and they’re very annoying (especially in the summer). It’s worth packing a head net to protect your face. Okay, they might not be glamorous, but it’s either that or having flies buzz into your nose, mouth and ears. You can buy head nets in the highway roadhouses or at the supermarket in Yulara Resort for under $10.
7. Wide-brimmed hat
The Outback is hot and sunny all year, so bring a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, neck and ears from the rays.
The sun in Australia is intense. Even if you don’t burn easily, it's best to bring a high-factor, sweat-resistant sunscreen to keep your skin protected throughout the day.
9. Lip balm
It’s dry and dusty in the desert, and when you’re out all day, lip balm will help you avoid getting sore, chapped lips. You get extra points if your lip balm has SPF.
There are plenty of opportunities to swim in waterholes in the Red Centre, so remember your bathers! Places like Ormiston Gorge and Ellery Creek in the West MacDonnell Ranges are stunning swimming spots – and perfect to cool down on those hot summer days.
We’d put a camera in the same category as walking boots or sunscreen… well, almost. But seriously, you’ll want to snap as many photos as possible of this awe-inspiring place. You’ll see many people with top-notch camera gear, but your phone should do a good enough job (just make sure it's fully charged every morning before you set off).
12. Insect repellent
Even with long layers and a head net, pesky insects can still find a way to bug you (pardon the pun). It’s a good idea to bring repellent, especially during the hot months (October to March).
Bring a small, lightweight daypack to carry your water bottle, insect repellent, snacks, etc. on walks and hikes.
14. Reusable water bottle
It’s easy to become dehydrated in the desert, especially when you’re busy exploring. Bring a large reusable bottle to refill during the day. Tap water is safe to drink in the Red Centre.
15. Quick-dry towel
Quick-dry towels are great for camping as they roll up small in your bag and they dry, well, really fast. They also double up as a beach blanket so they're handy to bring to waterholes.
16. Laundry bag
After hours of walking every day, expect to get a little sweaty and dusty! Bring a laundry bag to separate your dirty clothes from your fresh ones.
Check out our ultimate packing list for Australia
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