Some people in my family were wondering if I would be scared to go across Australia. The truth is yes, going through the Australian outback gives me literal nightmares. The dark roads for hundreds of miles, walking with dehydration, heatstroke’s, snakes, spiders, scorpions, you name it. What would we do if one of us got bitten by a snake and there isn’t a hospital in sight for miles?
Why go then right? You can’t avoid the outback, it’s what defines Australia, after all it takes up about 75% of it. There’s also a magnificent silver lining to the outback: millions of stars with zero light pollution, the beauty of Alice springs and Ayers Rock, tons of “Roos” (Kangaroos) and other wildlife, Aboriginal villages, and aboriginal art pieces. Some Aussies that I’ve met say “Mate you haven’t seen the true Australia if you haven’t seen the outback.”
So here’s 7 Tips on camping in the Outback on a budget!
1.)Before you leave for the outback pack these things: Mosquito Repellent, Sunscreen, water, a Gas Canteen, and most importantly, Fly hats!
The flies in the outback are at points unbearable, but it helps a bit if you have a net around your face so they can’t touch your eyes or mouth (I know disgusting). There are several things to see and do outdoors in the outback, like Uluru, the Devils Marbels, The Olgas, and more, make sure to do all these activities early in the morning to beat the hot sun, plus the flies don’t start swarming until about 11:00AM. At sundown is where the mosquitos come into play, be sure to pack high quality mosquito spray like Bushman’s or OFF. A gas canteen is important, IF you are planning to go offroading, there aren’t many gas stations off of the main roads!
2.)Gas in the Outback is expensive, be sure to use: FuelMapAustralia to track and find the cheapest fuel!
Gas in the outback is very expensive (can go up to 3.00 a LITER) and pretty scarce, but if you use FuelMapAustralia, you will be able to find gas stops along the way, that usually let you camp too. As said previously pack a gas canteen if you go offroad from the main highways, you don’t want to be stranded in the outback!
3.)Find Free Campsites
We downloaded a very useful camping app that we used for our entire journey, called Campermate I highly suggest this one as you can find great free and paid for camp sites. If you are staying at a free campsite without a shower, there are a lot of public showers around, in gas stations, ect. which you can use campmate to find. Once you get to Uluru, there are no free campsites, we stayed at Ayers Rock Campground, which the pricing varies, at our time it was $35.00, with powered sites. Arrive earlier than sunset, because there is a long line to get in, and it’s nice to have a good spot close to the bathrooms (there are more than enough spaces so don’t worry about not having a spot). If you are going on a long weekend, make sure to call in advance to book in.
At the time of our trip I had Optus as my cellphone provider, and my partner had virgin mobile, we both were concerned that for our two week trip in the outback we wouldn’t have service. However, we quickly realized that this was debunked, if you are planning to camp along the highway most major towns will have cell service, and some campsites (paid for) will offer wifi. If you are planning to go off the main road, there will most likely be no service, so be sure to keep a backup battery or car charger on you.
5.)If you are planning a trip to Uluru, be sure to see it at Sunrise or Sunset
Seeing the sunrise and sunset over Uluru is magical, the colours on the rock dance and change as the sun peaks over the horizon. Be sure to arrive at least 20 minutes earlier than sunrise to get a good spot at the sunrise viewing area, Talinguru Nyakunytjaku. It’s about a 35 minute drive from the campsite, and cost is $25.00 for a Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park pass, which lasts 3 consecutive days. It gets crowded fast, so be sure to stay put while you watch the sunrise, and make sure to respect the grounds, and do not walk over the fencing. For sunset you can head to the Uluru car sunset viewing area, where you can park your car bring foldable chairs and wait as the sun dips down in the sky. Be sure to pack your fly nets, we noticed the flys got to be distracting without one. Make sure to wait even 15 minutes after sunrise as the colours will continulsy change, you might even see some kangaroos hop by!
5.)Be Respectful of Uluru
We did the Uluru base walk which is a 10km circuit, around the entire rock! Throughout the walk you will learn about aboriginal traditions, and why this is such a sacred place for them. Be mindful when viewing each section of the rock, when we were there several people were climbing the rock disregarding signs from aboriginals begging them not to. Great news though, they officially closed the climb up Uluru in October of 2019, not only beacuase it’s a sacred place, but because many people died doing so. There are many ways to explore Uluru (bike, segway, walking tours, ect.), but the best way I found, and also the cheapest, is to view it by foot!
6.)Weather in the Outback
Depending on when you go the weather will vary, for us in May the weather was hot during the day and very cold at night. In the winter months (June-August), it’s mild during the day and sometimes below freezing at night. Make sure to pack jumpers, warm layered clothing, and good sleeping bags for your campsite for a more comfortalble night. As many of us know the outback rarely gets rain, aside from breif moments in the winter, so you won’t need to worry about a raincoat!
7.)Battery Power for Camping
Capturing the perfect picture on your phone is amazing, except when your phone dies right as your capturing it! If you are planning on camping in a free campsite/non powered site, make sure you bring a battery pack. While we were driving we would charge our battery packs, which typically would have 3 full charges for our phones. At night plug it in, and you can fall asleep and wake up to a fully charged phone, then rinse and repeat!
Thanks for reading! Check out my other blog posts for more travel tips today. Follow Travel with Emi on Social media below.