You can rent a four-wheel drive vehicle and head off the beaten track into the outback, but some knowledge and good preparation is required. Plenty of experienced outfitters run outback tours to the Flinders Ranges and other destinations, making it easy to experience the vast remoteness of the outback. A few of many are listed here.
Flinders Ranges and Beyond
As South Australia’s most accessible and visited outback destination, the Flinders Ranges are the main focus for land tours, but plenty explore the desert regions beyond.
Wallaby Tracks Adventure Tours covers the Flinders Ranges, from half-day tours to trips lasting more than a week with departures from Port Augusta and Adelaide. It also runs expeditions on demand along the outback tracks to Birdsville, Lake Eyre, Gammon Ranges National Park, and more.
Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the northern Flinders Ranges is a privately owned sanctuary with fine scenery and prolific wildlife. The pick of its tours is the four-wheel drive Ridgetop Tour, which features four and a half hours of traversing rugged terrain to the top of precipitous Sillers Lookout for amazing views.
Pindan Tours in Quorn has tagalong tours in the Flinders Ranges and beyond for those with a four-wheel drive vehicle who want to join an organized tour. They also offer four-wheel drive skills training. Tagalong Tours has guided group four-wheel drive tours all around Australia, and is one of the main outfitters crossing the Simpson Desert. Shooting Star Safaris crosses the desert with its own 12-seat four-wheel drive vehicle.
For a view of the real outback, off the main highway where few venture, tag along on the Coober Pedy Mail Run. Drive with the mailman, Peter Rowe, on a 12-hour journey visiting outback stations, including the huge Anna Creek Station, on a loop across to Oodnadatta and William Creek. Have a meal in the William Creek pub or at Oodnadatta’s Pink Roadhouse. Tours leave the Underground Bookshop in Coober Pedy at 9 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Bring a camera, sunscreen, and a hat to block the sun. Coober Pedy’s visitor center has details of other tours.
Eyre Peninsula and Gawler Ranges
The western parts of the state get far fewer tourists but have some wonderful coastal and inland desert scenery, with untrammelled national parks such as Gawler Ranges National Park.
Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris, based in Wudinna, operates outback four-wheel drive vehicle tours to the west coast, the rugged Gawler Ranges, the white salt pan of Lake Gairdner, and more. They also provide accommodations in upscale tents at their Kangaluna safari camp.
Xplore Eyre tours the Eyre Peninsula out of Port Lincoln. They combine land tours with tours featuring whale watching, swimming with marine life, and other sea-based activities along this remote coastline ringed with fine beaches. Extended options take in the Flinders Ranges or an Indian Pacific rail journey across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth.