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I’ve always had a rather addictive taste for forbidden fruit. And so one day, I found myself irrevocably attracted to the charms of the treacherous Outback - a no man’s land that actually prefers staying that way. Here, the scorching sun isn’t really your best friend – but then again, on the long, vacant roads, it’s most likely your only one.
Well-meaning friends and family made compelling cases against venturing out in the cold-hearted October sun. So naturally, I found myself on the road - loaded with sunscreen, water and common sense, three things that will hold you in good stead in the Outback.
While it can be found in every state, I say if you’re only going to do it once, venture into the ‘real Outback’ of the Northern Territory - full of salt water crocs, wild bushwalking, ancient aboriginal art and dreamtime stories.
Here are 10 Outback experiences you must tick off your Aussie bucketlist:
Originally a rite of passage for young aboriginal boys who spent months walking in the ‘Bush’ to prove their manhood, it is now an opportunity to walk in their steps, albeit in a more cushiony way - armed with guidebooks, marked trails and what not.
Litchfield National Park is home to pockets of ancient gorges, formed conveniently in the shade of mangrove forests. Swim under a waterfall or dip your feet in and let the birds serenade you with their tunes for the day.
Don’t forget to keep your chin up in the Outback, for the skies here put on a spectacular show of their own. Even better, take an Astronomy tour after sunset.
The only way to feel one with the mysterious, rugged Australian Bush is to zip up in a cozy ‘Swag’ (Think of it a cross between a tent and a sleeping bag.) after a hard day of exploring. Some even come with insect-repellants, so you can be snug without the bugs.
Imagine rubbing your palms around a crackling fire as you’re regaled by tales as old as time itself. From traditional ‘dreaming’ songs to stories of desert survival, there’s nothing like digging deep into the past with an aboriginal friend. Check out the Aboriginal Campfire Tour for a truly legendary night.
A delicious buffet set 60,000 years ago, Bush Tucker or Australia’s native foods aplenty in the Northern Territory. Minty green ants, fleshy Kakadu plums, rock wallabies, emus and ‘roos are some of the dishes that tickled aboriginal taste buds. Check out the Cooinda lodge in Kakadu for a delicious spread.
Home to over 10,000 crocodiles, Kakadu is Disneyland for people like me who get an adrenalin rush just by looking at a croc warning sign. For those who’d prefer a guaranteed spotting, the Jumping Crocodile cruise can get you disconcertingly close to ravenous 5-foot-long salties.
An outback pub isn’t your ordinary watering hole. Here, you could spot a white-bearded pool king in action, while his mates prop up their leather hats and sip a Bundy rum while swaying to some country music.
When aboriginal people paint, they’re actually depicting a sacred story passed down over generations. Instead of a mass-made souvenir, I’d pick up an artwork from an aboriginal-owned gallery like Mimi Arts in Katherine – a town famed for its ancient rock art.
Being a serial sunset-catcher, I was expecting Darwin’s to be spectacular. What I wasn’t expecting, however, is how blazingly-red-unbelievably-large the sun looks here. Mindil Beach is your best for a good shot.
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