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Outback Australia and remote deserts
Outback Australia might as well be synonymous with untouched wilderness. Australia ranks as one of the least populated countries in the world by density, and most of Australia’s residents live on its beach-studded coastline. The Australian outback is where you go when you want to see more than just the city.
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Alice Springs, with a population of just over 25,000 residents, is Australia’s largest outback town and a hub for exploring the country’s Red Centre. From here, you can go on bushwalks, camp underneath the stars and visit the Ewaninga Conservation Reserve to admire ancient rock carvings and petroglyphs.
Venturing on a full day road trip from Alice Springs to Uluru is an experience that will bring you through a spectacular landscape rife with wildlife and iconic rust-coloured dirt. Best of all, no 4WD needed as this drive can be done on a sealed road.
Check into the Squeakywindmill Boutique Tent B&B, a welcoming glampsite with a fire pit and spacious tents to sleep in about a 15-minute drive from central Alice Springs.
The Nullarbor Plain
Camels, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and rogue livestock – these are just a few animals you’re nearly guaranteed to see when driving across the Nullarbor Plain. The Eyre Highway that spans from the goldfields of Western Australia to the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia is a road of -ests. It’s the straightest, flattest and longest road in the country. Who knew you could crave turning a wheel so badly after hours and hours of moving straight on ahead?
Despite its list of accolades, it is one of the least-visited major roads in the world. Driving across the Nullarbor Plain takes at least six days, and it’s common to drive for hours without seeing another car on the road. Travellers need to be self-sufficient with plenty of water, food and petrol as reserves.
Hyden, Western Australia
Hyden is a remote Australian town found in Australia’s Golden Outback, a region that cloaks over 50% of Western Australia. Come springtime, the landscape is alive with wildflowers that seem to exist solely to counter the outback’s reputation for being barren and lifeless.
Visit Hyden to admire Wave Rock, a 15-metre-high rock that resembles a breaking wave and dates back 2700 million years, making it one of the oldest structures in Australia. Nearby, there are other geological features, walking trails, lakes, Noongar cultural sites and more to explore.
International alternative: Siwa Oasis, Egypt
The ancient town of Siwa Oasis is a desert paradise on the edge of the Great Sand Sea, a Saharan desert sculpted from the wind to create rolling sand dunes. Here, fertile land and water feeds the region’s iconic olive and date trees. Freshwater springs throughout Siwa Oasis beckon weary travellers to cool off and rest for a while.
If you’d like to see Siwa Oasis, spend a night or two at Taziry Ecolodge Siwa, an off-grid boutique hotel that makes up for the lack of power and internet with delicious local food.
Most remote beaches
At last count, there are over 10,000 beaches in Australia. Most of these beaches are remote, and no doubt spend their beach lives waiting for the day a visitor will arrive. Not to fret, these are some remote beaches in Australia that you can visit without the help of a helicopter.
Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia
A 12-kilometre stretch of sand lines the remote town of Broome, a port town on Western Australia’s northern coastline. While the main part of the beach hosts a kid-friendly grassy area, accommodations and cafes, wandering north or south along the sand will reward you with a spot of sand all to yourself.
Nearby, you can take a look at the region’s prehistoric past at Gantheaume Point, a beach with dinosaur footprints imprinted in its red rock shoreline.
Chilli Beach, Cape York, Queensland
Cape York is the northernmost point of Queensland with over ten national or regional parks and thousands of kilometres to explore. In Cape York, you’ll find a tropical landscape that rewards those with a strong penchant for adventure. This wild region is home to many remote beaches, best seen on a road trip where a 4WD vehicle is a must.
Camp at Chilli Beach in Kutini-Payamu National Park, a white sand beach with seaside palm trees. The campsite is basic, though the views from your tent or camper are anything but. Pack a pair of binoculars to watch for black palm cockatoos, starlings and owls.
Dolphin Bay, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Calm, clear water laps the white sand shoreline at Dolphin Bay. Found in Innes National Park, this beach is remote enough to escape a crowd yet still easy enough to access by sealed roads.
The gentle slope of the shoreline makes this remote beach the perfect swim spot for families. Keep a lookout in the water – the beach earned its name from the resident dolphins who can oftentimes be seen swimming laps in the bay. If you’re lucky, kangaroos might come down to the beach and laze the day away near the water’s edge as well.
International alternative: Saadani National Park, Tanzania
If you can’t decide between wildlife watching and seaside lounging, Saadani National Park in Tanzania combines the beach and bushland. In between game drives searching for elephants, buffaloes and giraffes, you can venture to the coastline and enjoy the beaches that this national park backs up against. It seems like the animals of the reserve have caught on to the park’s appeal. Just don’t follow along if you see a pair of lion footprints making their mark on the sand.
Most desolate islands
Let the sea separate you and the rest of the world by escaping to a lonely and remote island. Though Australia has thousands of islands off of its main coastline (with most accessible only via a private boat or plane charter), these are a few that will start you on your seafaring journey.
Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory
The Tiwi Islands are found north of Darwin, a tropical and remote destination with a handful of islands strewn throughout the archipelago. The main islands of Brathurst and Melville host a thriving Aboriginal arts scene, and locals can arrange cultural tours and craft workshops for those who want to learn more. When it’s time to explore, get around the islands on a croc spotting tour, birdwatching excursion or fishing trip.
Bruny Island, Tasmania
Bruny Island is a remote destination in Tasmania where its animal residents far outnumber the humans who call this southerly island home. You might be lucky enough to spot white wallabies, parrots and fairy penguins on the island. Offshore, there are plenty of vistas to search for migrating whales cruising along the shoreline. You’ll want to rent a car for this journey as the island is best explored with a set of wheels. A regular ferry connects Bruny Island to the port town of Kettering.
International alternative: Atauro Island, East Timor (Timor Leste)
Discover East Timor in the heart of the Coral Triangle, one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Here, coral reefs thrive and everywhere you go feels like you’re holding one of the region’s best kept secrets.
Off the capital city of Dili is the tiny island of Atauro, a 25-kilometre island with less than 10,000 inhabitants. Pack your snorkelling gear to discover a vibrant reef just off of its shoreline before falling asleep to the sound of chirping geckos and rustling trees. While one side of the island hosts a handful of dive centres and accommodations, trek across the heart of the island to its eastern coast. Check into Barry’s Place, an offbeat and off-grid accommodation. The homestay is located on the edge of a marine reserve where you can snorkel from morning until night.
Australia is no stranger to remote destinations. After all, Western Australia’s crown city of Perth is considered to be the most isolated capital city in the world. As you can see, you don’t have to venture far outside of city limits to find a natural space to yourself.
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