The Oodnadatta Track, Outback South Australia

If you enter “oodnadatta track” in the search function it will bring up some of the images I have on the area.

The Oodnadatta Track starts in the outback town of Marree, the Birdsville track starts there also, but heads in a different direction, but that’s another story.

Marree was a major centre in the early days with camel strings meeting the train(The Old Ghan) at Marree with these camels handling all the movement of goods to the surrounding outback stations.

The Oodnadatta Track is dirt track around 750km in length. These days after grading, it’s so smooth you could almost zip along it in a regular sedan. However this could have it’s problems and is not recommended.
If it rains these outback tracks turn to a muddy mush, with long sections of track under water and without a high clearance vehicle with a dif lock you could be stranded for days.

My young cousin learnt the hard way, he traveled the Ooodnadatta Track in dry weather and hit a rock in one of the countless floodways, tearing out the sump in his Ford wagon, and loosing all the engine oil.
The recovery was a very expensive exercise due to distance and remoteness.

The Oodnadatta Track and the Old Ghan Railway cross this section of the outback together and here in lies the adventure of discovering all the old ruins of the Transcontinental Railway alongside the Oodanadatta Track
Also the Overland Telegraph that linked Australia with the rest of the world also followed this route perched upon wooden poles and repeater station ruins can be discovered,particular at North Peake.

Old railway siding buildings made of the most attractive stone work dot the route, along with repeater stations for the Overland Telegraph. Also along the route are many steel bridges that carried the trains over floodways, with the Argibuckle Bridge setting some sort of record for a steel bridge at the time.
The constant seasonal rains washed out culverts and bridges, along with the shifting desert sands that would cover the tracks and need gangs to clear them before the train could continue. Mother nature caused such problems here that reliability of the service was always an issue and eventually this rail was closed and replaced with Ghan Railway running from Adelaide to Darwin that opened a few years ago.

We have traveled the track a few times, but the first time I got into real deep $#@!.
It was our wedding anniversary and I figured I would make Oodnadatta and the Pink Roadhouse just in time for a romantic evening camped in the best place the town could offer and arrived just on dusk.
Well I’m still making up for it many years latter!
Our camp site consisted of a gravel yard surrounded by paling fences, lumps of concrete scattered all over and basically on one side of the “camp ground” looked onto was seemed to be a scrap metal yard.
The locals recommended we could celebrate by getting a take away food down the road at a food caravan that looked so tired we made our own dinner instead.
In fact we were so keen to get out of the place that we skipped breakfast the next morning.

That morning we located a great camping spot at North Creek about 20km out of Oodnadatta which has become our regular sleep over when crossing the outback.

Other features along the track.
The Painted Desert, about 100km off the track.
The pub at William Creek the interior covered in business cards, hats, knickers, and the dining room built totally from sleepers salvaged from the Old Ghan Railway
Many natural hot springs rising from the Great Artesian Basin
Coward Springs, camp and the best place to have a natural hot spa.
The monster burgers at the Pink Roadhouse
Red gibber plains
Big Giant Bizarre Art made from planes, buses, cars, water tanks,etc

Joe Mortelliti

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