There's a new, free way to get into the Outback, nary a Bloomin' Onion in sight. Australia's favorite airline and the tourism board for the Northern Territories want to pay your way to come and visit the real Outback for yourself.
Through July, fly into any of Australia's major airports—Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane—and the Northern Territory tourism board will buy you a one-way ticket on Qantas to add Alice Springs, Darwin, or Ayers Rock (Uluru) to your itinerary. The Fly Free to the Outback promotion only requires that you stay for a minimum of two nights, that you book your trip before July 31st, and that you complete your trip before December 31st.
As travel magazine AFAR pointed out, despite seeing a record number of American visitors in 2017 and getting named by the New York Times as the #12 spot on its 52 Places to Go in 2018 list, Australia's rugged middle province—The Northern Territory, aka the Top End—still feels like far too many travelers are still missing out on the "spiritual heart" of Down Under by sticking to the continent's East Coast.
So they teamed up with Qantas Airways' to try to change that, by paying for one leg of your flight into the Outback when you book a package through one of their vacation partners (Goway, Down Under Answers, About Australia, Qantas Vacations, or Aspire Down Under).
According to SmarterTravel, if you choose the free flight to Uluru (the sacred lands home to Ayers Rock), you'll get to see the utterly Instagrammable Field of Light art installation—over 50,000 flower-shaped, solar-powered lights connected by fiber optics—from artist Bruce Munro while it's still on display.
It's been a decade since an Apartment Therapy contributor toured the Northern Territory, but many of us still have the luxury glamping experience at Longitude 131 in Uluru (Ayers Rock) on our bucket lists thanks to this 2008 travel journal.
You can also act out Crocodile Dundee and Young Einstein scenes to your heart's content, most notably in World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. (Please, keep the "Dingo took my baby!" references from A Cry in the Dark to a minimum.) If you choose the flight to Alice Springs, you can pay homage to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, minus the pink bus. Darwin flights put you at the jumping-off point to Northern Territory movie locations seen in Australia with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.