Calling all road trippers and bushwalkers, dirt-road lovers, waterhole-chasers and adventure seekers, allow me the honour of introducing you to the Route 66 of Australia: The Outback Way.
The Outback Way is a cheeky 2,750km strip across the heart of our country, from Laverton, Western Australia to Winton in Queensland and let me tell you, it is the perfect way to experience Australia.
All Images by @robmulally
The Landscape Will Blow Your Mind.
The road (which isn’t always a ‘road’ in the tarmac sense) passes through 10 of 85 distinctive bio-geographic regions in Australia – from the Mediterranean climates of Perth, across the barren red centre and up towards the lush tropics of Cairns.
Walk along ridges and breakaways, through mulga scrub and oak forests; bird watch and fish at the multitude of waterholes and billabongs; pull out your road-side picnic stash at river crossings; fossick at gemfields and take in panoramic landscapes from roadside crests as your favourite band blasts from the muffled speakers of your will-this-make-the-whole-journey set of wheels?
Let’s get down to the specifics of what you’ll see on your journey: Uluru (of course), the MacDonnell Ranges (almost 4 million hectares of stunning terrain), the Tjulyuru Art Gallery in Warburton (the world’s largest collection of community-controlled Aboriginal art), the Central Australian Gemfields (it’s near the town of Emerald, but it’s known for its sapphire mining), the breath-taking views from Mt Conner and so much more.
Chase The Min Min Light
There is a certain sense of magic associated with The Outback Way. It’s called the Min Min light. The name derives from the small outback town ‘Min Min’ and refers to a mysterious light that follows travellers between the towns of Boulia and Winton.
Stories about these lights can be found in Aboriginal myths pre-dating European settlement, and many recounts of the mystery light have been reported since. This is something definitely worth highlighting on your paper map – keep an eye on the horizon.
There are several opportunities to further understand and explore the indigenous culture in a variety of regions on this route, and it’s something that we at We Are Explorers believe is incredibly important. It’s more than just art galleries and rock art sites (which are amazing and definitely worthwhile), but cultural awareness tours and art workshops as well. You can check them out here.
Roadhouses and Motels
No trip along this route is complete without a visit or stay at one of the many roadhouses dotted along the route. They’re vortex’s of quirkiness and one of the best ways to experience the true essence of the outback.
The World’s Longest Geocache Trail
There are two million geocaches in the world, and if you don’t know what they are, you need to. Geocaching is essentially a global treasure hunt. All over the world there are little gifts hidden in trees, inside logs, under stairwells. There’s a logbook to sign and goods to trade and an online community to document your findings. The Outback Way boasts 36 caches en route, which is sure to get you and your road tripping buddies keen and competitive, especially if the geocache is hidden well.
Explorers, it’s time to stuff the boot of your car (did I mention it’s traversable by 2WD with high clearance?) with water, snacks and band-aids, fill your seats with friends, bang on a trustworthy playlist and hit the road. Let the desert sand kiss your cheeks and head into the wild.
It’s time to connect to your homeland.
The best time to hit the The Outback Way is between March and November, so you’ve got plenty of opportunities throughout the year. Us city folk complain about our blur-on-the-horizon heat, but in the outback, it’s like nothing else, so it’s best to avoid the intensity of summer.