Australia's top 10 weirdest outback experiences

LIGHTNING RIDGE GOLF COURSE

The first challenge is hammering your tee into the sun-baked earth. Next, careful with that tee shot. Unless your ball encounters one of the rare trees along the edge of the "fairways", there's no turf to slow down an errant shot. The club's website notes "bare patches exist". In fact bare patches are just about all there is to this 18-holer. The greens are sand, which makes for interesting putting. Luckily there's a bar in the clubhouse. 

MIN MIN LIGHT

In the Channel Country of western Queensland, the Min Min Light is a ghostly luminance known to follow travellers late at night, often appearing in their rear vision mirror. Although the town of Boulia is most often associated with the light, the phenomenon has been reported across outback Queensland and NSW, with origins dating back to Aboriginal stories from pre-European days. Sceptics suggest the phenomenon occurs more frequently when the observer has spent several hours in the pub.

LAKE EYRE YACHT CLUB

Water from the rivers of Queensland's Channel Country rarely reaches Lake Eyre. When it does the eccentric band of yachties of the Lake Eyre Yacht Club in Marree rejoice, and 2016 is a boom year. According to club Commodore Bob Backway, boats had not been on Lake Eyre since 2011 but the recent rains primed the Queensland rivers that feed the lake. The club held its fifth regatta in April 2016, not on Lake Eyre itself but to the north-east, on Lake Poondulanna. A total of 17 yachts competed for the Rear Admiral's Mug and given the relative proximity of the Mungerannie Hotel, the lake proved a wise choice. 

LIONS DEN HOTEL

Whether you've come south from Cooktown or north from Cape Tribulation, by the time to you've reached the Lions Den you're ready for a drink. Decor at this pub on the main coast road between Queensland's Mossman and Cooktown includes a unique collection of skulls, beer bottles from around the world, lots of corrugated iron, memorabilia left by past clients, enough graffiti to fill a book, a saucy picture or two and atmosphere you could carve.  There's a lion too, and don't miss the jungly Rousseau-style mural above the pool table. 

CROCODILE HARRY'S UNDERGROUND NEST

Even the locals referred to "Crocodile" Harry as colourful and slightly weird, and in Coober Pedy that's a high bar. Originally from the Baltic, Harry pursued a career as a crocodile hunter with some vigour, but his dugout home in low hills a few kilometres from Coober Pedy bears witness to his true affection – the female form. In sculptures carved from the walls of his underground home, images and second-hand undergarments, Harry's fondness for women is liberally illustrated, and not much is left to the imagination. Harry passed away almost a decade ago but his obsession endures in his cavern of Saturnalia. 

WILLIAM CREEK HOTEL

Most country towns have a pub or two but the William Creek Hotel is all there is to the town of William Creek. Decor is an unintended museum of work and play in the Outback – stock whips, cricket balls and dangling from every beam, caps and t-shirts commemorating the visit of Fiona from County Durham, Sven from Sweden and Alison from Dubbo. When you leave look both ways before crossing the road, the main street doubles as a taxiway for aircraft. 

PINK ROADHOUSE, OODNADATTA

Rising out of the Simpson Desert like some gaudy leftover from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Oodnadatta Roadhouse is a study in pink. Out the front of the all-pink roadhouse is a pink Volvo and pink canoes, inside there's a pink phone box. The burgers are worth a long drive and you can borrow the keys to the railway station – once the northern end of The Ghan, and the lifeblood of the town.

SUNSET AT THE PRAIRIE HOTEL, PARACHILNA

Half an hour before sunset the crowd that gathers every evening in the bar of the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna shuffles outside for the best show in town, and about two nights out of every three mother nature obliges, drawing a technicolour curtain across the desert sky that has cameras clicking frantically. Located on the western edge of the Flinders Ranges, the Prairie Hotel has attained legendary status for its bizarre sense of humour and a menu heavily reliant on feral food. 

PRINCIPALITY OF HUTT RIVER

Although it lies almost 600 kilometres north of Perth, you're no longer in Australia when you set foot in the Principality of Hutt River. Back in 1970, after a fight over the wheat quota from his 75-square kilometre farm, the self-styled H.R.H. Prince Leonard decided that Western Australia was not part of the legally constituted Commonwealth of Australia and so he seceded. So far, the Australian Government has not seen fit to send in the troops and Prince Leonard has made his principality a tourist attraction, with its own passports, flags, currency, postal system and military, while members of the "Royal Family" can be found in the souvenir shop.

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CANAPES WITH CROCODILES, MOUNT BORRADAILE

"No trailing fingers over the side of the boat please, the crocs take that as an invitation. More champagne?" The sunset cruise on Cooper Creek at Mount Borradaile, a 700-square-kilometre chunk of western Arnhemland, is an odd juxtaposition. It's a free-range kingdom with sea eagles, jacanas doing a stiff-legged dance across the lily pads, clouds of whistling ducks and magpie geese erupting from the soggy grassland of the floodplain and big saltwater crocs warming themselves on the muddy banks, and yet there are canapes to go with the bubbly and learned references to the Aboriginal rock art sites on the reddening hunk of sandstone that gives Mount Borradaile its name. 

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