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How to plan an Australian outback adventure

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    AFP/AP

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    Uluru-Kata Tjuta National ParkPaul Mannix

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    Walls of China, Mungo, New South WalesNew South Wales Holidays

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    Stuart HighwayK. McLean

Arid, vast, and unquestionably beautiful - the Australian outback is one of the last expanses of truly untamed wilderness. Millions of acres of unexplored desert hold countless natural treasures for those who seek them out, from looming mountains to vast craters. 

So why not indulge your adventurous side, hop in an off-road vehicle and embark on an exploration of the Australian outback.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru National Park in the heart of the central Australian outback is undoubtedly one of the world's most spectacular natural attractions. Sweeping tracts of red sand extend for hundreds of miles in every direction across this vast expanse, broken only by the towering rock formations on the horizon.

The park is named after its most famous landmark, the gargantuan sandstone rock formation more commonly known as Ayers Rock. This site is of great significance to the native Aboriginal people, who guide tourists around the area to illuminate some of the indigenous traditions and legends. On your exploration of the park, be sure to visit the park's other major group of rock formations, Kata Tjuta, which is arguably more beautiful than its famous counterpart.

South Australian Outback
Parched desert encompasses over 60 percent of South Australia, making it the continent's driest state. The sheer immensity of this arid expanse becomes quite apparent after leaving the coast and heading to the heart of the South Australian outback. A wide variety of wildlife, including kangaroos, dingoes and emus roam the desert, though many more species emerge for the blooming vegetation during the brief wet season.

The safest and most popular way to traverse this wasteland is by following one of the area's four major trails. The 321-mile Birdsville Track leads past isolated towns, creeks and ruins on the way to Queensland, while the Strzelecki Track winds through secluded sand-dune country toward the famous Cooper's Creek. Both Stuart Highway and the Oodnadatta Track cross several beautiful national parks and tiny mining settlements as they navigate the heart of South Australia. While en route, be sure to stop by the township of Alice Springs, with its Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air, to get a real sense of life in true isolation.

Just one word of caution: Given the hot, barren and isolated nature of the region, it's important to not to embark on any journey through the South Australian Outback without ample supplies and equipment.

New South Wales Outback
Although New South Wales is best known for the urban metropolis of Sydney, the state contains a wealth of natural treasures in its more remote western region. The jewel of the New South Wales outback is undoubtedly Broken Hill, a mining city surrounded by desert sands. The city and its environs contain a substantial amount of attractions, including a nearby ghost town, a historic national park and a surprisingly vibrant arts scene. For a more authentic outback experience, try Lightning Ridge. Originally founded on the back of an opal rush, the town has the sort of charming eccentricity that could have only been developed in such an isolated setting.