7 Outback Wonders You Might Not Have Heard Of
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 30 March 2016
There aren’t many landscapes that have the power to enrapture and excite quite like the Australian Outback does. Striking yet enigmatic, the Northern Territory serves up a land of extremes – from sun-scorched sands to rock-fringed watering holes to prehistoric plant life – stretching on for what feels like eternity. Here you’ll encounter a whole new side to the land Down Under, including a range of wonders you might not have even heard of...
Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
These huge granite boulders, otherwise known as Karlu Karlu, are scattered across a wide, shallow valley, creating a fascinating, undulating topography. Alluringly free of resorts and settlements (the nearest town is nearly six miles away!), the reserve is blissfully quiet – good thing too, as you wouldn’t want anything to disturb the precariously balanced rocks.
If you're looking to explore there are no set walking trails to speak of, so it's up to you to forge your own path instead. That’s part of the site’s enchantment though: you can find a secluded spot to watch the sunrise or sunset and gaze on as the crimson boulders seem to change colour at dawn and dusk. After dark there’s no light pollution, so it’ll just be you and the Outback beneath a glowing canopy of stars.
The dramatic soaring sandstone walls of Kings Canyon are often overlooked. Halfway between Alice Springs (where you’ll usually fly into) and Uluru, and rising intensely from the desert floor, it should feature on every Northern Territory itinerary. The canyon is best seen from the rim or from a bird’s eye view on a short flight. The 3.7-mile walk that takes you around the canyon’s lip is quite challenging, but don’t be put off by the initial climb – once you’re at the top the views are out of this world.
For an authentic experience, explore the canyon on a guided walk with an Aboriginal Elder and learn about the cultural significance of the area. In the evening, the Kings Canyon Resort offers a range of accommodation options, meaning this region is an accessible stop on your Red Centre adventure. If you wish to travel as part of a small-group tour, Round the World Experts can organise it for you.
Keep River National Park
The Keep River National Park is accessible outback at its very best – striking landforms like those in the famous Bungle Bungles are peppered across a flaming landscape. Want to hear the best bit? Barely anyone knows about it. A distinct lack of tourists and even locals gives this Aboriginal wonder a truly remote feel – if you want to get away from it all, this is the place to do it. It’s miles from civilisation and with only basic camping facilities.
Spellbinding doesn’t even cover it when it comes to Katherine Gorge. These 13 bottomless chasms are unsurprisingly the mainstay of the Nitmiluk National Park, carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River as it journeys from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea. It goes without saying that this is the perfect place for some epic river activities: you can cruise and canoe the river, or even swim at Leliyn, Edith Falls and Sweetwater Pool – a tranquil swimming hole. If you prefer to stroll though, that’s doable too: the Jatbula Trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of generations of Jawoyn people.
Litchfield National Park
If you like bushwalking, camping and swimming, this is the best place in the Top End to experience all three. Just a two-hour drive from Darwin, this incredible park is an aquascaped confection of thundering waterfalls, shimmering plunge pools and croc-free waterholes. No matter the time of year there’s always a secluded spot to be found, or if you’d rather explore a tourist hub there’s plenty of those too: try Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, Tjaynera Falls. For something a bit different, check out the towering termite mounds near the site’s entrance.
Karijini National Park
Deep-set gorges, fresh waterfalls and hidden pools are the big draw at Karijini National Park. Forged by millennia of erosion, this ancient site is an adventurer’s paradise. Nothing compares to clambering through the rocky heart of a gorge and feeling like a pioneer as you stumble upon your very own water hole. Nature abounds here too – remember to keep your eyes peeled for echidnas, red kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes and high-flying bats – and you can navigate the tracks in a 4X4 or normal rental, whichever you prefer.
The Kimberley is undoubtedly Australia’s final frontier. Its rugged landscape is larger than 75% of the world’s countries, bordered by untouched coastlines and jam-packed with vast deserts and awe-inspiring cascades. It’s bursting with history and Aboriginal culture too, being one of the earliest settled regions in Australia. More than 30 indigenous tribes still remain in the region, each with its own language, traditions and culture. But the Kimberley is still achingly quiet. Thanks to its sheer size, a visit here is full of possibilities for seclusion: it’s not hard to find a spot where you’ll feel a million miles away from everyone and everything.
Want to find out more about the Northern Territory, or book one of our tailor-made Journeys holidays to Australia? Speak to one of our Experts today on: 0808 274 2897.