Australia is one of my favorite places on the planet. During one of my first big international adventures, I traveled far and wide to see the best of the land “down unda.” On my second visit to Australia a few years later, I adventured deep into the Red Center to experience the Australian Outback.
The Outback is an absolutely massive place, and it’s one that I think deserves a spot on every traveler’s bucket list. From Alice Springs to Kata Tjuta and beyond, this vast red desert is truly magical.
Ready for a trip you’ll never forget? Here’s my itinerary for Australia’s Great Big Outback.
Day 1: Alice Springs
Start your adventure in Alice Springs. You can fly there from most major airports or drive from the city.
There is a lot to do in Alice Springs so plan plenty of time to explore. Check out spots like the Kangaroo Sanctuary, Aboriginal Art Galleries, Uluru Mala walk and Alice Springs Desert Park.
It’s the second largest town in the Northern Territory, and it’s a major hub for tourism because it’s a popular gateway into the Outback.
Uluru also has some of the most epic sunsets! Don’t miss the changing colors of the red rocks as the sun descends, it’s truly magic.
Read More: Tips for Visiting Alice Springs
Day 2: Uluru and Kings Creek
There’s nothing more beautiful than watching the sun rise over the red rocks, so, start your day at Uluru for sunrise.
At Uluru, you’ll find the Aboriginal Cultural Centre which is the perfect place to learn more about the native culture. Sample the indigenous food, learn about bush medicine, and have your eyes opened to a completely different way of life.
The Valley of the Winds is the perfect place for a long walk or hike. Uluru looks completely different depending on the lighting, so I’d also suggest getting to a location from which you can watch the sunset hit the rock. (Pack a bottle of bubbles and some snacks to make the moment extra special!)
Once you’re worn out, get to Kings Creek Station to spend the night under the stars.
Optional Activities: Helicopter Ride or Quad Biking Off-Road Tour.
Day 3: Kings Canyon
Start your day with an early hike through the gorges and valleys of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park. If you have the time, I’d highly recommended hopping on a camel. Some tours run through Uluru, Alice Springs, through the Ilparpa Valley, the MacDonnell Ranges, and Kings Canyon.
You will find some good glamping options around the area or you can make the relatively short trip back to stay in Alice Springs where there’s a good range of everything from hostels to luxe hotels and resorts.
Day 4: Ghan Train and Alice Springs
One of my fave experiences in the Outback (and all of Australia!) was the Ghan Train. It’s a throwback from the golden age of rail travel, and it’s such a cool experience.
You can experience The Ghan trip from Alice Springs to Katherine, which is a two-day journey that goes through some of the best areas around Australia’s Northern Territory.
If you can make the time for it, I’d recommend checking out The Ghan Expedition. This epic journey is three days and four nights through The Bush. It will take you from coast to coast for the 1851 mile (2,979km) trip from Adelaide to Darwin.
When you opt to take the long trip, you’ll get to see the incredibly diverse landscape from the stunning red scenery of the MacDonnell Ranges down to the lush tropical region around Katherine and Darwin.
I made the trip from Alice Springs up to Darwin / Katherine. I loved it and, because the train leaves in the evening, it gave me the chance to explore more of Alice Springs.
Day 5: Katherine Gorge
After an overnight train from Alice Springs, you’ll arrive at Katherine. The train stops for approximately 4 hours, so you can explore Katherine Gorge by flat-bottomed boat, a scenic helicopter ride, or with a walk around the gorge to enjoy the views.
Day 6: Darwin / Litchfield Park (Disembark Ghan Train)
You’ll disembark the Ghan around 7 am, so head out to explore Litchfield National Park. There is so much to see! Be sure to get to Florence Falls, and the Buley Rockhole then make time for a wetland nature cruise to meet the local crocs!
Bring a bathing suit to swim at Buley Rockhole (it’s an awesome spot to laze the day away) and be sure to check out the giant termite mounds.
You can also take a jumping crocodile cruise to see the saltwater crocodiles!
Day 7: Kakadu National Park
Head to Kakadu National Park to check out the Aboriginal Art or hike down the gorge to take a dip in the pools below. There is a lot to learn about Australian Aboriginal culture here so take advantage of the opportunity.
Day 8: Gunlom Falls to Darwin
Before heading all the way to Darwin, pack your bathing suit and head to the incredible Gunlom falls. Take a short trek to the top of the falls to find more pools to swim in. From up top, you’ll find an amazing viewpoint that looks over southern Kakadu.
NOTE: Gunlom Falls is only accessible during the dry season (April to October).
Ikoymarrwa is also a perfect spot for swimming. The access road is rough and restricted, so it’s normally less crowded.
The area at the bottom of the falls is a great, peaceful spot to lounge and take in your surroundings.
Finish your trip in Darwin and explore the Top End of Australia. With a ton of history and beautiful gardens and beaches, there’s a ton to see and do!