Survey #2: Secrets or Sharing?

A fundamental aspect of the Outback’s appeal is its isolation, its loneliness, the absence of crowds. To my mind, arriving at a much-anticipated camping spot, and finding there are no other people there is a bonus. But anyone who’s been travelling in the Outback for a number of years is aware that it’s getting more and more popular. Getting to you favourite camping spot before it’s full up is an increasing concern! The number of 4wds on the road is greater than ever. High-clearance 4wd buses are becoming more common. Is it possible that the very appeal of the Outback could be destroyed by its popularity?

Outback traveller Pompeii Epic asked early last year “whether some of these absolutely wonderful experiences should not be kept as powerful secrets, to cherish and gorge on like a private supply of truffles.”

This blog is by its nature encouraging people to visit some of these special places. But should they be jealously-guarded secrets? Here’s the chance to express your opinion. Secrets or sharing? Please enter a comment to tell us what you think.

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About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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6 Responses to Survey #2: Secrets or Sharing?

  1. I think it’s nice that some aspects of the Outback can be experienced by anyone who wishes to see them. However, I don’t think everyone has to see everything. One doesn’t need to keep things secret if they’re difficult enough to reach –just don’t improve access to every spot on the continent. Not just to keep them to oneself, but because there is a degree to which being hard to reach is part of what makes it the Outback. It shouldn’t be the backyard. If there’s no challenge, can one be said to have truly experienced the Outback.
    That said, with 20 million people in a country roughly the size of the continental U.S., you can open up a lot to “everyone” and still have a whole lot of “no one has seen this.”
    I sympathize with the issue, because on trips back to Australia, I’ve occasionally been very disappointed to find boardwalks and handrails places that I previously had to work hard to get to. However, if no one ever sees this stuff, will they care what happens to it?
    So it’s something of a balancing act: making enough of it accessible that people learn to love it but without having every pristine place “improved.” There need to be places for those less able to manage really difficult places, but also places for those who can and want to put in the extra effort. Because the vast majority will still not see the really remote places. I talk to Aussies sometimes who haven’t even heard of some of the places I’ve been in Australia.
    So no — I don’t think you need to keep anything a secret. Just discourage the authorities from sealing every road and putting hotels at every bush camping site. Because if it’s easy, it’s not the Outback.

  2. Anne says:

    WaltzingAustralia has made the best argument possible. If it’s out there, and some-one has seen it, some-one else will find it, but only if they really want to. So if you’re worth your salt, you’ll find the best, and most interesting spots in this land. Why would you want to be selfish and keep it secret any-way.

  3. Sue says:

    I like both of those comments. Going with Bobby Dazzler, we always seemed to find exactly what he had planned. There didn’t seem to be a problem of crowding.

  4. georgeroytersaustralia says:

    I would like to see more people travelling the outback. The iconic South Australian roads, such as the Birdsville, Strzelecki, Oodnadatta and Painted Desert are now well maintained gravel roads that can be easily travelled in the family SUV. Care still has to be taken, but that is part of the adventure. I have made many friends who run the services in these remote areas. Without our support they close. I say spread the word.

  5. Mandy says:

    Well after mulling over this question for several days I am coming down on the side of ………. secret.

    Before I am howled down, let me explain: yes I do believe there is a place for sharing parts of our Outback with others, and with sharing comes population pressure, management, tourism dollars etc. But I strongly believe in keeping some places under wraps and that these places should be rewards for those that live and work the country. Just this weekend I paddled a length of river under starlight. I was only there by the grace of one of the locals in my community. Keeping this spot secret has meant it is managed locally by families and friends and remains uncrowded and special.

    I have another friend that works as a ranger in Cradle Mountain National Park. He is passionate about his craft but continually amazed at the tourists who bluster in and out just to take a pretty picture without understanding what they are looking at.

    Share places by all means but let the secrets be the ones you have to earn the right to visit.

  6. dazzlerplus says:

    An interesting collection of responses — thanks to all of you. Clearly the sharers won.

    Of course, it’s not going to make any real difference whether I try to keep things secret or not. I have to confess I have some sympathy for Mandy’s position. It seems to me that if current trends continue, in say ten or fifteen years time, there’ll be relatively few places where you can have a camp fire, or even pitch your tent without anyone else around.

    One thing I hope is that indigenous people will have more of a voice in deciding issues about development in Outback areas.

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