Australia's vast outback isn't just a flat, arid landscape with a famous rock in the middle. Its role in Aussie history, heritage and folklore runs deep, and its terrain is actually pretty varied, taking in swampland, rainforest, mountain ranges and waterholes - and, yes, deserts. Book one of these five stays to see what this remarkable region is really made of.


Glen Helen Lodge, Mount Zeil, NT

Lying a little way west of Alice Springs, Glen Helen Lodge is in the Tjoritja, a 500 million-year-old landscape of red sand, mountains and gorges. The lodge offers comfortable accommodation, a pool and an award-winning restaurant and bar. But it's the genuine outback experience that really sets it apart. From your base you can join bush walks, go stargazing, take 4x4 or helicopter tours, and enjoy cooling dips in Glen Helen Gorge. If you're a keen hiker, ask staff about the Larapinta Trail - but it's 223km long, so you probably won't want to take on the whole thing.

If you want to see more hotels in Mount Zeil, visit our Mount Zeil hotels page.


Sails In The Desert, Yulara, NT

Looking for five-star luxury in the heart of the Red Centre? Bingo. Sails In The Desert is part of the Ayres Rock Resort, and comes with a pool, a spa and a range of restaurants and bars. This isn't generic global luxury fare though - it's shot through with local influences, with particular emphasis on the indigenous Anangu people. There's even an on-site gallery that showcases their art. Your stay includes loads of free activities, including guided walks, bush yarns and trips to the Wintjiri Arts & Museum centre and Ayres Rock.

If you want to see more hotels in Yulara, visit our Yulara hotels page.


Cooinda Lodge Kakadu, Kakadu, NT

Our next pick takes us to Australia's Northern Territory. Kakadu National Park has been home to Aborigines for 65,000 years, and is as rich in history and folklore as it is in nature and wildlife. Indigenous community-owned Cooinda Lodge is the perfect starting point from which to discover the region. With the Warradjan Cultural Centre just a short walk away and daily cruises on the Yellow Water billabong, there's plenty of scope for both learning and adventure, with comfy rooms, a refreshing pool and cracking food waiting for you back at base.

If you want to see more hotels in Kakadu, visit our Kakadu hotels page.


Walkabout Lodge, Arnhem Land, NT

Part of the Northern Territory's 'Top End', Arnhem Land is one of the most isolated, unspoilt natural landscapes you could hope to find. That's partly because it was declared an Aboriginal Reserve in 1931, helping to protect indigenous arts and traditions (you'll need a permit and a guide to enter it). As you can imagine, the area isn't exactly packed with accommodation, but it does have the excellent Walkabout Lodge, an ideal gateway to Arnhem and the culture of the Yolnu people.

If you want to see more hotels in Nhulunbuy, visit our Nhulunbuy hotels page.


Corynnia Station, Hay, New South Wales

On the edge of the Outback, Corynnia Station is a working homestead where you'll get that 'true blue Aussie Outback experience' (their words, and fine ones). Owners Bruce and Julie farm Merino sheep for both wool and meat, and will take you out bush-walking, birdwatching and stargazing. While the surrounding land is pretty unforgiving, the homestead itself is something of an oasis, with a pool, tennis courts and lovingly tended garden.

If you want to see more hotels in Hay, visit our Hay hotels page.