Far from the shores of the worlds largest island lies Australia’s interior, commonly referred to as ‘the outback’. Home to kangaroo’s, wild dingo’s and deadly creepy crawlies, the outback is a vast wilderness of scrub and sand (and the rare petrol station). Daytime summer temperatures can soar to over 50°C (120F), and drop below freezing to -10°C (15F) during winter nights.

When I greeted Australian customs officers in Melbourne they asked where I was staying. I named the small town I planned to visit and a suspicious gaze crossed the officer’s face. She had no idea where I was going. The outback is so big with so few urban areas, she just had to take my word for it that my destination existed. It did.

Rainbow is approximately five hours north of Melbourne, via Horsham. Friends met me at the airport and drove me through the cool of night (thankfully) to my accommodation.

When I climbed out of bed the next morning I pulled back the curtains to cloudless blue skies. My host immediately scalded me and drew them closed. In the outback, despite air conditioning, curtains remain closed on sunny days to block out the heat. I understood this later when I walked outside. My bare feet burned on the concrete. My friend and I fried an egg on the driveway as an eggsperement (sorry).

Egg

Heat was not the only predator in wild Australia. Within moments of walking out the door flies flocked my face with violent determination. I was unprepared and nothing I did or didn’t do could deter my enemy. Growing up in the western islands of Scotland I was well accustomed to flying pests. ‘Midgees’ as we called them, are a small biting insect that swarm by the thousands. They had nothing on Australia’s flies. These bad boys were more irritating than an early morning salesman.

I was amazed at the untouched beauty of the outback. Most of Australia’s population and tourism is limited to coastal regions and few venture into the uncharted outback. There is nothing there. And that is what makes it so great. It’s undefiled.AUSSIE1

Due to sparse population there are few maintained roads. Dirt roads are many and often full of potholes. Tourists tend to avoid such routes as they often lead to rural farmsteads or aboriginal communities. Most tourist attractions exist on main routes.

My hosts sat me in their jeep and drove me further into the depths of rural Australia to a dried out lake. On arriving, kangaroos hopped beside our vehicle by the hundreds. If you were to stop the drone of our turbo engine all that could be heard was birds, insects and silence. An incredible mix.

Despite multiple trips to Australia, I have discovered the hype of venomous snakes and spiders to be just that: Hype. In some places poisonous critters may be prominent, but in most cases heat and dehydration pose a bigger threat.

My hydration levels often struggled as I was not used to such an arid environment. The A/C sucked my body dry while sitting in the cool living room, and the sun baked me when I ventured outside. I was drinking about 1 litre a day and would recommend 2 litres to any potential traveller.

My outback experience was both educational and adventurous. If given the chance again I would return with fly spray.

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