The landmarks of central Australia feature as iconic images on countless postcards and in numerous travel books. Yet many of the backpackers who visit Australia never make it this far inland. With Tiger airlines now offering budget flights to Alice Springs, this may be set to change.
'But is it worth it?' That's the question I get asked when I mention my trip to the Red Centre of Australia. The next comment is usually 'once you've seen one bit of the outback you've seen it all'. People don't seem to have the same issue with the countless beaches of the East Coast, not that I don't understand the appeal of lazing in the sun and watching the world go by. Yes, the outback is miles and miles of ‘nothing’ but that's exactly what makes it so special.
I'd heard the statistics about the size of Australia: one country almost the same size as the entire USA, Ireland is more or less the same size as Tasmania, and so on. But only by travelling to the outback did I really get a sense of the vastness that is Australia. Whether standing in Kata Tjuta, facing the iconic Uluru or surveying the Breakaways, you can't help but understand how big not only Australia is but the world in general. That experience is only intensified by sleeping under the stars and seeing the sky lit up with such a clarity that is only possible with the complete absence of city lights and modern living. You also realise how little you need to enjoy travelling and maybe life in general - no tents required, just simple swags, and a night topped off by a couple of beers and dinner cooked on an open fire.