REGIONS

Australia’s Outback offers some amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences which allow many of our passengers to check off something special from the ‘bucket list’. Talk direct to Graham and Deb at Travel West to get the right advice for your own very special Outback adventure. This section provides information on just some of the special Outback regions we have access to.

Lake Eyre

Lake Eyre: Salty Oasis in the South Australian Outback If you are visiting Brisbane and you’d like to make your holiday a different, action-packed one, few day trips are quite as ideal as taking a flight to the scenic Lake Eyre. On the way to there, you will fly to Birdsville before following the Diamantina, soaring over Goyder Lagoon and the southern part of the serene Simpson desert. The flight over the lake itself lasts close to an hour – you start in the north and head southwards towards Belt Bay (the deepest part of the Lake). The best thing about this exciting experience it that you don’t need to worry about packing meals or getting to and from places; the friendly team at travelwest will take care of all your needs, offering you a delicious breakfast, satisfying lunch, and light evening meal. If you are travelling from overseas, all you need to do is ensure that domestic flights are covered in your travel policy, which they usually are. The rest is just about enjoying your journey and taking in the spectacular beauty of the lake itself. Why is Lake Eyre so special? There are many reasons why Lake Eyre is well worth visiting, especially from above. The Lake Eyre Basin covers a staggering 1.2 million square kilometres, crossing the borders of Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia. Many people are surprised to learn that it actually comprises two lakes which meet at a channel. The lake is half as wide as it is long (77km to 144 km, respectively). Lake Eyre rarely fills up but when it does, it is the largest lake in Australia. The People of Lake Eyre: Towns and Properties Around 60,000 people live along the many towns that pepper the Lake Eyre Basin. The best known of these towns is arguably Alice Springs, though there are beautiful homesteads on grazing properties of unimaginable proportions. There are also a wealth of lively, smaller towns such as Longreach, thus named because of the ‘long reach’ of the Thomson River, adjacent to it. While towns like Longreach once depended exclusively on the sheep and cattle industry for subsistence, they now heavily promote the tourism industry, with attractions such as the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, or the Outback Museum, favoured by visitors from far and wide. Longreach is just one of many towns with beautiful gardens, architecture and museums that merit a visit. Visitors catch a show at Banjo’s Outback Theatre, enjoy an exquisite coffee at one of many coffee shops or enjoy a tranquil river cruise. Other popular tourist destinations include Birdsville and Oodnadatta. Strong industries in the area include mining and fossil research. A larger percentage of land is owned or leased by Aboriginal people and some of these lands have a Native Title claim. Indeed, the Basis boasts a rich variety of peoples, who work in various industries – including mining, tourism, conservation of natural resources, etc. Environmental sustainability is important to Basis peoples, who realise the importance of protecting resources if social and economic stability are to be enjoyed. There are various important cultural sites to indigenous peoples, including dreaming tracks, songline indicators, caves, etc. Indeed, the Aboriginal people have cared for the land and rivers for thousands of years. Events along the Basin Two of the most well attended events are the Birdsville Races and the Henley-on-Todd Regatta. The latter, held every year on the third Saturday of August, is a unique event which is, in essence, a ‘waterless regatta’. Instead of towing or pushing the boats, event founder, Reg Smith, deemed that competitors should “cut the bottoms out and carry them”! The day prior to the Henley on Todd Regatta, the HoT Desert Trail takes place – a 27-km walk along the iconic Larapinta trail, in an aim to raise money for charity. The Birdsville Races, meanwhile, are known as the horse races “where the dust never settles.” They take place in Birdsville (formerly known as Diamantina Crossing), a normally quiet town that truly comes alive for this fun event, which will soon celebrate its 135th anniversary. The first race was held in 1882 as a hack and stock horse event but now includes a 13-race programme and prize money of $200,000 AUS dollars. The track is 2000m in circumference and the longest race goes for 1600m. These fun events are just a few reasons to visit Lake Eyre yet if you have just one day, do take in its beauty from the lofty heights of the skies. Contributed by Missi Davis

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Broome – A Pearl of a Destination

Broome – A Pearl of a Destination by Melissa Locke

What started as a pearling town in the remote north of Western Australia in the 1880s has since grown into one of Australia's premier tourist destinations. Broome is easily ranked by Australians, especially those on the west coast, as one of the country's best places for a holiday. With some of the world's best beaches, a premier pearling industry, camel tours and plenty of the Kimberley's red desert to explore it is no surprise people flock here every year. Testament to its popularity is the town's annual population swell during peak tourist period, when a country town of 15,000 people transforms into a bustling tourist Mecca of 40,000. You can experience the magnificence of this unique destination via Travel West's Air Safaris range.

Isolated Paradise

Located in Western Australia's far far north Broome is about as isolated as you can get. It is usually accessed by plane, with the 2200km drive there from the state capital of Perth taking close to 24 hours of non-stop driving. Yet this isolation is one of Broome's unadvertised attractions. Visiting Broome is like visiting the end of the earth. Situated in the Kimberley it is surrounded by red earth desert quintessentially Australian. The Kimberley is one of the most unique natural environments on earth, with red desert meeting gaping ancient gorges intertwined with mighty rivers. Flying over this landscape, it will feel like you're anywhere but Earth.

A Rich Cultural History

Settled more than a century ago on the back of a pearling industry promising wealth to any and all Broome has a rich history of migrants that has made it probably the most multicultural regional centre in Australia. From the original Aboriginal Yawuru inhabitants (who occupied the area for thousands of years before settlers arrived) to Japanese pearl divers and European settlers the town proudly boasts a myriad of cultures that seem to intermix with an ease seldom found elsewhere. Today the town is rich with multiculturalism, with populations of Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, European and Aboriginal people all living side by side. This has resulted in a friendly bush town unusually rich in world culture and full of personality.

From Pearling to Tourism

After pearling, tourism is Broome's second biggest industry and it easy to understand why. The distinctive natural features of the Kimberley surround it, yearning to be explored, while the town itself is full of fascinations. The white sands and blue waters of the seemingly endless Cable Beach (it's more than 22km long!) stretch into the distance along the coast, so named after a telegraph cable connecting Western Australia to Java was laid there in 1889. The beach is one of Australia's most famous, and is known for its sunsets and camel tours. A live webcam even runs from the beach 24/7, tempting those stuck behind desks or struggling through a cold winter. Punters get to soak in the sun setting over the ocean here as part of a Travel West Air Safari itinerary, after spending the day enjoying the sights of the Kimberley. Cable Beach sunsets are one of Australia's most recognisable – and bucket list worthy – experiences. Just don't expect to swim there from November to May when the water is chock full of box jellyfish.

Get an Insight into Pearls

In Broome pearling has become more than just a lucrative industry valued at more than $150 million a year. It has become part of the attraction for visitors in itself. Two old reconditioned pearl luggers, presentations on pearl diving and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willi Creek Pearl Farm have all become must-see attractions for eager tourists. During a Travel West visit you will get to learn about pearl diving and see displays of the magnificent jewellery, in what Graham and Deb reckon is one of the highlight days of their entire Air Safari tour of Australia. Just remember that all Travel West tours are proudly smoke-free, so get some help to quit before setting off so you can enjoy the smells, tastes and sights of this unique region to their fullest. A day in Broome with Graham and Deb finishes with a sunset over Cable Beach and dinner before flying back to Kununurra. A day you will never forget.

Weather Forecast: Just Hot or Hot and Wet?

Being in the far north means Broome is part of the Australian tropics and can get quite hot. Temperatures at 45C are not unknown. The seasons are split roughly into two – the dry and the wet. Both are hot and temperatures can reach 30C all year around. The dry season generally runs over Australia's autumn, winter and spring (April to September) and entails clear skies and temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. The wet season roughly matches to summer (October to March) – and has hotter days, humidity and sporadic downpours. Broome's weather is at its best from April to October, which is the town's peak tourist season. It is not uncommon for the town's caravan parks, holiday resorts, backpacker hostels and hotels to sell out during the peak season and then sit idle over the wet season. Yet wet season or dry season, the charms of the Kimberley and Broome promise to blow any visitors away. This is truly a place like no other.

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Charleville, Outback Queensland

Charleville, Outback Queensland is in the Murweh Shire which covers 43,905 km2 and also includes the towns of Augathella, Cooladdi and Morven. The Murweh Shire lies in a semi-arid zone, with climates ranging on average from 15 degrees celsius up to 37 degrees celsius during the summer months, and in the winter month's, temperatures range from 3 to 25 degrees. Charleville and the Shire are situated on the Great Artesian Basin. The Great Artesian Basin lies under approximately one-fifth of Australia over an area of 1,711,000 square kilometres. It extends beneath arid and semi-arid regions of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The Great Artesian Basin was formed between 100 and 250 million years ago, beginning with sediments laid down in three large depressions, the Carpentaria Basin, the Eromanga Basin and the Surat Basin. During the deposition process alternating layers of sand and gravel, and clays and clayey sands, were laid down in floodplains and lakes. Sandy sediments consolidated to form permeable sandstone layers, and the clayey sediments became impermeable layers of mudstone and siltsones preventing water escaping from the permeable sandstone. After sedimentation ceased, uplift and erosion at the edges of the Basin exposed the uplifted permeable sandstone and rainwater was able to enter the sandstone and slowly percolate through the sandstone to fill the aquifer. Water moves through the sandstone at a rate of between one and five metres a year. Thickness of this sequence varies from less than 100 metres on the Basin extremities to over 3,000 metres in the deeper parts of the Basin. Water continues to infiltrate into the outcropping sandstone aquifers mainly along the eastern margins of the Basin, especially along the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range, and is constrained in the aquifers by the impermeable layers as it flows generally westward to the south-west over most of the Basin but to the north-west and north in the northern section. Natural discharge from the Basin occurs in mound springs where groundwater flows at the surface; these natural water sources are a valuable resource for wildlife. Travel West is based in the outback Queensland town of Charleville however their tours operate from Brisbane and Charleville and special group departures can be arranged from anywhere in Australia.

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