The cliffs and craters and ravishing red rocks of the Flinders Ranges shine brightly in the morning sun, your outlook particularly pretty from Wangara Lookout. From this vantage, you'll enjoy expansive views over the natural amphitheatre that is Wilpena Pound. It's an awe-inspiring way to start the day, before your journey carves north through dramatic Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges. Keep your eyes peeled for endangered yellow-footed rock wallabies - only 2,250 remain in Australia, and most call this part of the country home.
You'll begin to understand why they favour the South Australian outback when you arrive in Arkaroola, characterised by ancient granite mountains and golden spinifexcovered hillsides and providing a vantage over Lake Frome and the desert beyond. But the real stars here are those overhead, as you'll discover on an astronomy tour that brings the dazzling night sky into full focus. Prepare to be humbled - in the best possible way. (B/D) Stay: Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary
Much of the South Australian outback exists because of the old Ghan Railway, click-clacking from Adelaide to Darwin. Plenty of history will be revealed on your morning's journey down the line's westward bend, perhaps only outshone by the natural drama of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. Australia's largest inland lake is - most of the time - a shimmering saltpan covering hundreds of square kilometres, yet is occasionally transformed by desert downpours into a thriving oasis. You'll have the chance to glimpse it from the air, your bird's-eye view unfolding beneath you like a work of art.
Speaking of art - your included scenic flight will also pass over the Anna Creek Painted Hills, a rocky outcrop that literally pops out of the flat desert, creating silhouettes resembling cartoon characters. Touch down to explore the otherworldly countryside before jetting on to your destination for the next two nights, Coober Pedy, brimming with compelling quirks. How do you fancy sleeping underground? (B) Stay: Desert Cave Hotel (2 nights)
The self-proclaimed ‘opal capital of the world', Coober Pedy's many attractions lie primarily below the earth's surface. Due to the aboveground heat (temperatures can soar) many locals choose to take up a subterranean residence as well. Once you've explored this fascinating community - including fossicking for opals in surrounding mines - look further afield to Aboriginal owned Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, where you'll travel along a stretch of the ancient Dog Fence: a barrier spanning 5,300 kilometres across three states. As mind-boggling as the construction is, it pales in comparison to the setting's moonscape of fossilised shells and cracked grey clay. It has provided the ideal setting for Hollywood blockbusters like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
The only thing more surreal than the natural landscape is the constructed one this afternoon at Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Club, where the fairways are dirt and sand. That's one for the record books. Pick up a club to thump balls around the oil-soaked putting green. (B/D)