Australian Flying Tours: The (Second) Best Way to Explore the Outback
By Roger Morrison
To truly experience Southern Australia, one might argue, you need several weeks, a stout and reliable rattletrap, and a determined disposition punctuated by equal parts patience and bravado.
If you don’t have time for all day auto treks across spine-jarring roads that weave through a seemingly landmark-less terrain, well, you’ll miss out on a lot of the experience. Too bad. A pot of ice cold amber in a dusty rural pub is all-the-more refreshing when you’ve truly had to earn it by driving for 12 hours along rugged unsealed roads.
There is another option for those with a less sturdy temperament: a flying tour of the Southern Australia, offered by several Ozzie travel companies.
A flying tour affords tourists the opportunity to see some of the most unique natural wonders in the Southern Hemisphere, and terrain that admittedly can start to feel a bit too familiar when driving, now appears diverse and appealing as you are zipping along the frontier in a twin-engine aircraft.
And since virtually all dusty bush villages have landing strips – and many of them boast surprisingly modern airport facilities – you can experience more of the colorful characters and local charm that out-of-the-way Outback towns have become renowned for.
Flight tours of Southern Australia are likely to include:
Lake Eyre – The lowest point on the continent, Lake Eyre is dry most of the year, but when filled to capacity (which usually occurs) in late May/early June it becomes the largest lake in Australia. The salt plains of the Lake Eyre Basin are an impressive sight, kilometer after kilometer of vibrant white.
Flinders Range – The largest mountain range in Australia, this discontinuous range is home to the remarkable red walls of the Wilpena Pound, an amazingly large quartzite formed amphitheater that sprouts up from the arid land surrounding it. Many flying tours will schedule a landing somewhere near Wilpena Pound, or perhaps in the adjacent Arkaroola wilderness sanctuary, where many of the world’s most unique bird species can be observed.
Ayers Rock –Often referred to by its Anangu name, Uluru, Ayers Rock is a tremendous sandstone rock formation near Alice Springs. It’s an astonishing sight, particularly from a low flying aircraft, as the distinctively colorful natural protrusion is known to appear to change colors depending on the time of day.
Pub visits – Hopefully your flight tour includes an overnight stay at William Creek, the Mungerannie Roadhouse, the Prairie at Parachilna, or one of several other towns that are known for charm and hospitality characteristic of Southern Australia. There you will be treated to suds and stories.
For me, nothing beats getting out of the city for a month on end and truly wandering out to the bush for an extended – and often harrowing – holiday. But for those with less time and/or more common sense, a weekend flying tour across Southern Australia is a ripper than tourists worldwide should consider.
Roger Morrison is an enigma. A typical 8 to 5 bloke who navigates Sydney traffic in luxury sedans, he transforms himself into a bush explorer, two pot screamer, and general adventure maven on the weekends. Somehow he manages to find time in between to blog on behalf of Jeep Australia.
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