Exploring The Australian Outback

KangaroosThe space outside of the populated urban areas of Australia, that vast and arid stretch of land is known as the Outback.

90% of Australia’s population lives in the urban areas along the coasts, so even today the Outback remains sparsely settled. Life is very different here. In most communities, the number of children is too small for operation of conventional schools, so children are educated at home by the School of the Air. When this system began, teachers communicated with their students via radio, but technology has evolved so that kids today are taught using satellite telecommunication and the internet.

The “Never Never” is a term that refers to the most remote parts of the Outback. When an Aussie talks about this hauntingly beautiful area, they often call it the “back of beyond.” The entire area is full of wildlife that has adapted to the conditions – snakes and lizards sunning themselves on rocky outcroppings, kangaroos and dingoes that seek shelter from the heat of the day in bushes and ravines, coming out to feed and explore as the sun sets, and prolific bird species that are often spotted flocking to waterholes at dawn and dusk.

There are interesting towns and sites scattered throughout the Outback and visitors can take tours or easily drive their own vehicles on main roads. In the more remote areas, travelers explore in convoys that are well-equipped with good communication devices and plenty of supplies. The Stuart Highway runs from north to south through the center of the continent, and the Outback is crossed by many historic tracks that are rough going for conventional vehicles. Mail delivery is provided by air transport to the most remote areas, and most Outback sheep and cattle stations have their own airstrip and light plane. Medical and ambulance services are provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The Outback offers popular tourist attractions such as the quaint and colorful town of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, and Uluru – famously known as Ayers Rock, the otherworldly red monolith that rises from the vast dry land and is an iconic site to the Aboriginal people who were once the only inhabitants of this harsh, magical land.