If you’re hankering to get off-planet, your options for getting into space as a tourist are kind of limited (and expensive) right now. Plus, you can’t really go anywhere cool, all you can do is float around in space.
Whilst floating around in space is still pretty neat, the price tag is quite high for such an experience. If your bank balance doesn’t have multiple zeros before the decimal point, why not head to Australia? Down Under, you can pretend you’re on an alien planet without having to pay more than the price of a return airfare and other travel costs.
Why Australia? Because there are many parts of this vast country that really look like they could be a truly alien planet.
But don’t just take my word for it. Numerous films have used Australian scenery to stand-in for either other planets, or post-apocalyptic landscapes; these films include Pitch Black, Mad Max 2, The Osiris Child, and Red Planet — just to name but a few.
If you want to see these out-of-this-world destinations for yourself, this is the list. Here are a number of otherworldly locations in Australia that you can visit today that will definitely give you an off-world vibe.
If there were a real-world Tatooine, I have a feeling it would be Coober Pedy. Minus the scum and villainy of course. Whilst Star Wars wasn’t filmed here, a number of other popular science fictions films were, including Pitch Black. In fact, one of the main film props from that film, a huge chunk of a spaceship, can still be found in the town. Which certainly doesn’t detract from the off-world vibe.
The appeal of Coober Pedy is two-fold for space fans. First, a majority of the town is actually located underground. This is an opal mining town, and the residents took advantage of all that mining equipment to construct underground dwellings, which include homes, a hotel, a church and even a golf course. Being underground means that the temperatures remain pretty much constant year round (handy for the desert!).
The other thing about Coober Pedy is that the landscape is seriously surreal. Just outside of town is the “Moon Plain,” so called because it looks like the surface of the moon. Just a little further out of town is the “Painted Desert,” which is a desert of wacky colors. No wonder that so many science fiction films base themselves here!
If you’re more into post-apocalyptic looking landscapes, head to the mining city of Broken Hill in New South Wales. This was where many of the exterior filming locations for Mad Max 2 were shot, and if you’ve seen that film you’ll appreciate how alien the landscapes seem.
Broken Hill itself a remote mining city, surrounded primarily by semi-desert. There’s a great deal of wilderness out here, the sort of thing you might see in a Star Trek away mission. There’s lots to do here, but near the top of your list should be a trip to Silverton, an “almost” ghost-town near the city, which is home to a number of artists. The landscape surrounding the town is stunning, and over 140 films have been shot in this area.
Nothing says foreign planet quite like a giant pink lake. After all, we’re used to lakes on earth being various shades of blue. Or maybe slightly green. But generally, not bright pink.
So when you find a giant bright pink lake, it would stand to reason that you’ve found yourself on a distant planet, presumably with alien ecology, and maybe an extra moon or two.
Or, it could be that you’re in Western Australia, where there are a number of unbelievably pink lakes. Unfortunately, aliens didn’t give the lakes their color – that is as a result of a reaction between the organisms in the lake and the water’s salt content.
There are two so-called “pink lakes” that can be visited. One is located near Esperance, and the other is a six-hour boat ride from the mainland, which you can also see on a sight-seeing plane ride. The former lake has sadly not been pink for some years now (maybe the aliens left?), but the latter at the time of writing is still pink, and I’d recommend taking a sight-seeing plane ride as the best way to see it.
Photo credit: Amanda Slater
As you might have started to grasp by now, Australia does a good line in remote locations and wilderness. Take Lake Ballard for example, which is truly in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia. It’s either an 11-hour drive from Perth – or over 4 hours drive from Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
If you do make the effort to visit this huge dried out lake, you will find yourself surrounded by strange humanoid figures who spend their days standing on the dry lake bed and, well, not doing very much.
These figures are not the vanguard of a very slow moving alien race hellbent on the invasion of earth. Instead, they are in fact the work of British Sculptor Antony Gormley, who put this installation together. Called “Inside Australia”, you really have to be a fan of the artist to make the long trek out here. It definitely feels like you have stumbled across the remnants of an extinct alien civilization though.
The Lost Cities of Limmen
Whilst there’s no shortage of off-world looking locations in Australia, the last location I want to add to the list is the Lost Cities of Limmen. Found in remote Limmen National Park in the Northern Territory, this location has two “lost cities” for you to explore.
These huge expanses of weird rock formations really do give you the feeling that you’re wandering through the ruins of a forgotten civilization in a far corner of the galaxy. The fact that they’re very remote and far off the beaten path definitely helps add to this feeling.
And that’s it for my guide to some of the most remote and off-world locations you can find in Australia.
Author Bio: Laurence is a professional travel photographer & blogger, who has been traveling the world full time since 2009, and taking as many pictures of beautiful places as possible. He runs two travel blogs: the photography and adventure focused Finding the Universe, and the couples travel focused Independent Travel Cats with his wife Jessica. He’s also the author of the Superstar Blogging Online Photography Course, which will help you improve your photography. He’s still waiting to get into space. All photos in this post are copyright Laurence Norah, except the Pink Lake photo, which is by Kurioziteti123 via Wikimedia Commons, and the Lake Ballard photo, which is by Amanda Slater via Flickr.