How to deal with flies in the outback?

How to deal with flies in the outback

Have you heard a say ‘personal fly‘? This is what you get in Australia. Flies here are different and come to the annoyance level beyond our acceptance – and that’s even without leaving a city!

The whole fly journey starts when you hit the outback. Then, you get surrounded by thousands of flies and despite the fact you may get rid of many, it takes only the ‘personal one’ that keeps buzzing around your face trying to reach your mouth or ears. So, how to deal with flies in the outback?

In our trips around Australia, we accepted flies as part of the package of camping in Australia. Usually, there are not bad, but some places in the outback can be really annoying. The worse ones we experienced, were in September when we visited Diamantina National Park. To cook dinner was a challenge – I can tell you that.

What is outback flies season

Outback flies or bush flies you can call them, don’t like cold weather.

Fly occurrence is seasonal, and really only serious for two or three months in the early summer, depending on which part of the country you are in.

In southern Australia bush flies die in winter. Each spring the areas are populated again by immigrant flies from the north, transported by strong winds. The number of flies peak in late spring and early summer.

In northern Australia, due to it being constantly warm, the flies occur all year round and usually their numbers peak after heavy rains.

Also, the flies are attracted by animals so if you are near to animal grazing, the number of flies is greater.

Have you tried “Aussie salute” at the flies

Aussie salute or Aussie wave is an all-way direction waving hand gesture around your face to deter bush flies. The Australian bush flies are so annoying that trying to avoid them deserved a proper name. Interesting!

The Aussie salute got even its media presence. Check out this video from the Australian Open in 2019.


Natural ways to keep flies away in the outback

It is easier to manage the flies in your own kitchen or backyard as you have plenty of natural repellents in your pantry. Those include basil, cloves, mint/lavender/marigold plants in your backyard, cinnamon (as air freshener), eucalyptus/peppermint/lemongrass oils or apple cider vinegar.

When you go camping it is more difficult to have all the necessary ingredients. So, what you can use as a natural repellent when camping in the outback?

Avoid wearing perfumes

We all like to smell nice when we go out for dinner, but when you are in the outback wearing perfumes can be disadvantageous.

Perfumes have different scents and some attract flies more than the others. Not wearing cologne or perfume of any sort can help reduce flies interest.

Rosemary and Cedarwood Creme

Rosemary and Cedarwood cream is about $20 to $30 a tub, but lasts a long time and actually works. It’s harder to find than standard insect repellents but worth searching for.

The easiest way to buy is to jump to eBay and get one. Interestingly, the Rosemary and Cedarwood cream helps to keep away flies from horses as well so if you have one, it is worth spending a few dollars.

Make your own fly repellent

You can make your own fly repellent considering you have the required ingredients while camping.

One option is to use a few drops of dish soap, and a tablespoon each of vinegar and baking soda per cup of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle.

Another way is to get a few tablespoons of cider vinegar, a few drops of dish soap and a tablespoon of sugar. Mix it in a bowl and leave it on your camping table. The cider vinegar attracts the flying and causes them to drown.

Our way is to leave an almost empty beer can with a few drops of dish soap and flies are so attracted that go inside and drown.

The above solutions may work if you have a couple of dozen flies around your camp but when you are swarmed by flies in the outback you have to take it to the next level.

How to deal with flies in the outback – products

Hat with dangling corks

A cork hat is an Australian invention to deter annoying flies in the outback. Normally, it is a round hat with pieces of corks (usually bottle corks) that are hung on strings from the hat brim.

Once you move your head, the corks swing, discouraging flies to get to your face.

In addition, you can spray the hat with homemade repellent (described above) or put some rosemary and cedarwood creme for a better effect.

Hat with dangling corks
Hat with dangling corks

Netted Hat

Netted hats are simply head nets that you mount on your hat. This solution is very popular in the outback when you have thousands of flies around you while hiking. Whether it is flies, bugs or mosquitos the headset is always handy.

Netted hat
Netted hat

Mosquito Net

A mosquito net is something we used a lot during our camping trip around Australia. It is a big net that you usually attach to your awning or a tree branch. There are two versions: round with one anchor point and square with 4 anchor points.

Square Mosquito Net
Square Mosquito Net
Round Mosquito Net
Round Mosquito Net

Once you attach it you can seat inside on your chair or even cook dinner away from flies and mosquitos.

Shooaway Fly Repellent

Shooaway fly repellent is an innovative Aussie product to keep the flies away from your dining table while camping.

Shooaway is featured with soft propellor blades with holographmatic dots that rotate constantly to deter flies away from your food.

Because the blades are very soft, the repellent is safe for kids and pets. At any time you can interrupt the blades with your hand and the rotation stops immediately letting you pick up the food from the table.

Shooaway Fly Repellent
Shooaway Fly Repellent

How to deal with flies in the outback – Summary

During our trips to the Australian outback, we experienced a lot of flies. Normally, the flies are bearable and you don’t need to worry about them. However, in some places or during the fly season, we used some of the products above.

The item we used mostly was the fly/mosquito net. It is a good solution as you can sit inside and cook your dinner. We also used cork hats and netted hats, when going hiking or rosemary and cedarwood creme if we had to stay outside of the net.

We hope this guide will help you to stay away from your personal fly. If you find this information useful please subscribe for more content like this.

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