Early explorers got it wrong when they described inland Australia as barren, sterile, monotonous, and lacking in colour. Granted, some of them died navigating the country’s interior, or turned back, or simply vanished. And some 150 years after their often epic journeys, more than 85% of Australians live within 50km of the coast.
But the rest of the country, often collectively called outback Australia or just “the outback”, is far from lifeless. Diverse animal species, including lizards small and large (goannas), tiny finches and majestic raptors, and dozens of snake species, flourish in the often extreme conditions. Here too are trees with rough bark and smooth, and unexpected palm-filled oases. A little rain can unfurl multicoloured carpets of wildflowers.
Then there’s that big sky, and the palpable feeling that out here you are closer to this ancient country’s heart than anywhere else, and at the mercy of its whims. Reason enough to escape Australia’s crowded east coast and the big smoke.
Walking in Australia’s outback/desert shows you that this country is awash with colour – and sometimes with water! Among the best walking destinations for getting in touch with remote Australia are the Flinders Ranges (South Australia), the Larapinta Trail, Uluru and the Jatbula Trail (Northern Territory), Purnululu NP and Karijini NP (both in Western Australia).