My good friend Wayne has drawn my attention to a fascinating short story by Honoré de Balzac titled “A Passion in the Desert”, written in 1830. The story concludes with a paean of praise: “There is nothing like the desert in my eyes! Ah! it is beautiful — superb. …. In the desert, there is everything and there is nothing. …. It is God without man.”
You can read the story in a few minutes at http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/PASSION.htm .
The Australian desert does not provide quite the remarkable experience described by Balzac, however one can certainly feel there something of a direct encounter with Nature devoid of the accoutrements of mankind, and also interact with the animal world in a way that is denied us in the city.