Four reasons to do a tour of the outback by air

By Nick Stobie - Touring Pilot

Outback Australia really does have so much to offer. We're the largest island country in the world, and although you can travel all over Australia by car, more than a decade of flying to the most remote parts of the country has taught me that the best way to see the outback is by air.

Here are my top four reasons why you should see the outback by air.

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1. The view from the air is incredible

This obviously takes the top of the list. The view from the air, particularly in outback Australia, is absolutely stunning. Whether its down low over the wide expanse of Lake Eyre, or up high looking out over the Kimberley Coastline - there's just no better way to see it.

Many of my favourite landscapes are ones that we see between destinations. The rippling dunes of the Simpson Desert between Birdsville and Alice Springs. The expanse of the Nullarbor and the Great Australian Bight as you head west across South Australia into Western Australia. The rolling peaks of the alpine high country in Victoria and New South Wales. The rocky islands of Bass Strait as you fly down to Flinders Island.

Lake Eyre in Flood from Aeroplane

2. Land right where the action is

One of my favourite experiences as a Touring Pilot is landing directly at outback destinations like cattle stations. Seeing the outback by air means we can land directly at the destinations we really want to go to, and nearly everywhere in Australia has an airstrip. At last count, there were more than 4000 charted airstrips in Australia, and estimates are that there are another 4000 that aren't charted.

There are so many amazing spots we land at, but a highlight of recent years for me has been landing at Bullo River Station on our Ultimate Outback Air Tour. Bullo River Station is a cattle property right on the WA/NT border, near Kununurra. They've been hosting tour groups like ours for some years now, and the hospitality is second to none. The airstrip, however, is pretty much just a nicely mowed paddock, and after we land, we pull up right at the homestead to be met with a cool towel, a cocktail and lunch waiting for us on the patio.

Bullo River NT Website
Muloorina Station Andrew Langmead

3. Go to places others can't

Seeing the outback by air you get to see places that other tourists can't. So many of my favourite spots are outright inaccesible by road, and others border on impossible by virtue of the equipment and time taken to get there.

Melbourne to Birdsville is 24 hours of driving. Getting to Flinders Island is a long swim in some very chilly waters. Visting some parts of the Ancient Flinders Ranges means having a 4WD vehicle and all the rescue equipment required to get yourself out of trouble. Flying mean you skip all this, leaving more time to enjoy what's important - exceptional destinations accompanied by your friends or family.

Arkaroola Nick Drone Photo

4. Meet the locals

Australian Air Safaris has been travelling the outback by air for more than 40 years. Tony Kirkhope, our founder, has been making friends in far flung places ever since, and today that means relationships with locals that you won't find with any other company.

We love working with local touring companies, and at every destination we go we have a local guide showing us the places only the locals know about. As a pilot, its one of the things I love about my job - we get treated as old friends each and every time we go back to these amazing destinations.

Birdsville Hotel Ben
Muloorina Lisa Mitchell
Nick Headshot

About the author

Nick is Australian Air Safaris' Chief Pilot and has flown over Lake Eyre more than 40 times with tour groups. He has extensive experience flying in remote Australia, and has flown for Australian Air Safaris for more than 7 years. Nick previously worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service flying aeromedical retrieval in Western Australia.

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