The Australian outback conjures up images of vast stretches of red hot dirt with nothing around except the sandstone slopes of Ayers Rock. The outback holds a few surprises, however. Here are six things you probably never knew about the Australian outback.

The Outback Encompasses Most of Australia

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You won’t be wrong if you think that the outback is full of vast open spaces and an incredible amount of uninhabited land. The truth of the matter is that the outback fills up almost 70 percent of the country’s landmass. You won’t have many neighbors if you move there either, only three percent of Australia’s population call it their home.

The Desert Is Covered in Vegetation

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It’s easy to imagine that the outback is a barren land with nothing but red dirt and tumbleweed as far as the eye can see. That’s not at all the case, though. Almost all of the outback is covered in shrubbery and vegetation. As soon as the rain begins, the red earth gives way to all manner of native plants, and the scenery changes entirely.

Temperatures Hit Well Below Zero

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It probably won’t come as much as a surprise that it gets pretty hot in the Australian outback. In the height of the midsummer sun, temperatures can soar to an incredible 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Life isn’t always hot and sunny though; it’s a land of extremes. It can get as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit at night in winter and some days don’t rise much above freezing.

You’ll Find Incredible Beaches

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While Australia is known for its stunning beaches, you probably don't expect to find any of those in the outback. Not only can you find beaches in the outback, but they are also some of the best in the country. With the amount of space on offer, they are uncrowded, untouched and have some pretty impressive backdrops.

The Majority of Ayers Rock Is Underground

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Australia’s best-known natural landmark, Ayers Rock, or Uluru, is a stop off point for most people who visit the outback. The enormous monolith is a sight to behold. Stretching 1,142 feet high, higher even than the Eiffel Tower, the walk to the summit would certainly give your legs a stretch. Amazingly, the vast majority of its mass is underground.

It’s Home to the World’s Largest Camel Herd

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Australia is well known for its wildlife. However, the animal you’re most likely to see in the outback is far from being native. Camels were imported in the 19th century to help with heavy labour. With no natural predators and plenty of space to roam they have quickly multiplied. There are now around 750,000 wandering around in the outback, drinking up precious water supplies.