Touring the Australian outback is like going to another planet with its red sands and impossible formations that come out of nowhere. You can drive thousands of kilometres only to find a weird little outpost. But the longer you spend there, the more you’ll notice and the more you start to see the outback as the Aborigines do. One of the best ways to see the outback is by caravan, and there are always plenty of deals to be found for used caravans all over Australia.
Besides Alice Springs and Uluru, which are sure to be on your list, here are some other outback towns with unique and authentic qualities that you must experience.
Cooper Pedy, South Australia, is a legendary opal mining town and one of the few places in the world where individual prospectors can mine. The name Coober Pedy comes from the local Aboriginal term ‘kupa-piti’ meaning ‘white man’s hole’ and this is what really sets Cooper Pedy apart from anywhere else on the planet. Most of the town is built underground, from churches to pubs and homes.
Katherine in the Northern Territory is where the tropics meet the desert and the Katherine River runs into the Daly River systems. Enjoy the Mataranka Hot Springs, canoeing in Nitmiluk Gorge, bushwalking, caving, camping and fishing for barramundi. This is also cattle country and the people who come into town from outlying regions are mostly local indigenous (Jawoyn people and Wardaman peoples) or stockmen (cowboys- both white and indigenous) and station owners (ranches). It’s about 350 kilometres South of Darwin, on the way to Alice Springs.
Broken Hill, in New South Wales, is an old silver mining town that marks the half way of the journey between Adelaide and Sydney. It actually has great examples of imposing Edwardian and Victorian architecture and has a weird artistic edge being the centre of the bushman’s movement of artist in the early 1970s, which included the very famous Australian artist Pro Hart. A lot of the Aboriginals in the community are also artists.
Broome in Western Australia is where the outback meets the Indian Ocean and Asia. A little north of the town is probably where the first Europeans landed on the continent (possibly William Dampier in 1688). This famed pearl diving town was home to many Japanese divers in the late 19th century, who created this interesting blend with local Aborigines and the odd European- the first truly multicultural place in Australia. Ironically it was later attacked by Japan in during World War Two.
Ride camels on the white endless sands of Cable Beach at sunset or head out to some awesome diving reefs. The region around is called the ‘Never Never’ and there are cave galleries of rock art that dates back 50,000 years. You need permits to enter these Aboriginal territories but the best way is to go with a tour and leave your caravan in town.