You HAVE to do the Oodnadatta! - Must Do Tracks
The Oodnadatta Track is a legendary Australian outback road that stretches from Marree to Oodnadatta in South Australia. This remote and rugged journey takes travellers through some of the country's most breathtaking landscapes, from the scorching deserts to the verdant wetlands of the Birdsville Track. Running parallel to this track are the remnants of the Ghan railway track which operated from the late 1800s to early 1980s when steam locomotives traversed this harsh landscape connecting Adelaide in the south to Alice Springs in the north.
In terms of driving time, the length of the trip will depend on the speed of your travel, road conditions, and the number of stops you make along the way. On average, it takes 2-3 days to drive the entire length of the Oodnadatta Track, but many visitors choose to take their time and spend several days exploring the area, visiting historic sites, and enjoying the stunning scenery.
It's important to note that the Oodnadatta Track is 660km long, corrugated, remote and rugged, and it can be challenging to drive, especially for those who are not familiar with outback driving. The road can become slippery and difficult to navigate in wet weather, and it's essential to carry enough fuel, water, food, and supplies to last several days in case of an emergency. Not to forget, having a well maintained capable vehicle is an absolute must!
Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, here are some of the must-see and do experiences along the Oodnadatta Track. Also in this article are some of the iconic places along the track for camping.
Must See and Do (in no particular order):
- Visit Lake Eyre - lowest point in Australia
One of the most iconic sights along the Oodnadatta Track is Lake Eyre, the largest salt lake in Australia. While the lake is often dry, it can fill with water during periods of heavy rain, creating a stunning and unique landscape. Visitors can take a scenic flight over the lake for a bird's eye view of its size and beauty, or explore it on foot and enjoy the quiet solitude of the surrounding desert. Make sure to visit Halligan Point. At 15 meters below sea level this is the lowest point in the country.
- Explore the Outback Town of William Creek
William Creek is a tiny outback town land is one of the best places to experience the true essence of Australia's outback. This small and remote community is home to just a few residents (10 permanent residents to be exact), but it's a popular stop for overland travellers who want to refuel, rest, and stock up on supplies before continuing their journey. A visit to the historic outback pub William Creek Hotel is a must! Visitors can also take a scenic flight over Lake Eyre from William Creek, making it a great base for exploring the area.
- See the Curdimurka Railway Station
Curdimurka Railway Station is an historic railway station located along the track, and it's one of the few remaining examples of Australia's outback railway heritage. The station, which was built in the 1880s, is now a museum that showcases the history of the area and the railway. Visitors can step back in time and learn about the railway's importance to the development of the outback, as well as admire the beautiful old railway buildings and the stunning surrounding landscape.
- Visit the Ochre Pits
Located north of Lyndhurst along the Outback Highway the Ochre Pits are a unique geological feature located near the Oodnadatta Track, and they're a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of the outback. These ancient pits were used by indigenous communities for thousands of years to collect ochre, a red pigment used for body paint, and they offer a fascinating insight into the ancient culture of the area. Visitors can explore the pits, learn about the traditional uses of ochre, and appreciate the beauty and significance of this unique landscape.
- Experience the Painted Desert
The Painted Desert is a breathtaking landscape slightly off the Oodnadatta Track, and it's one of the most photographed spots in the outback. This colorful desert is dotted with vibrant red, orange, and yellow sandstone formations, and it's a breathtaking sight to behold. Visitors can hike through the desert, admire the stunning colors, and enjoy the peace and solitude of this remote and rugged landscape.
6. The Bubbler
The Bubbler is a must see natural spring. It's a unique and fascinating geological feature that is fed by an underground aquifer and creates a constant flow of water that bubbles up from the ground.
Visitors to The Bubbler can observe the spring and its surroundings from a viewing platform, which provides a safe and accessible way to see this natural wonder. The surrounding area is also a great spot for wildlife watching, as a variety of birds and other animals come to drink from the spring.
7. Coward Springs
Coward Springs is a historic site located along the track. In the hay days of the railway this was a water points for the steam locomotives. It's one of the oldest and most significant landmarks along the Oodnadatta Track, and it has a rich history dating back to the early days of European settlement in the region.
Once upon a time a pub had existed in Coward Springs remnants of which can still be seen at the campgrounds. If you dig a bit any where in the area you will be in luck to find one of the many thousands of beer, wine and other bottles that were buried over time.
The springs were named after a member of the Burke and Wills expedition, which was the first European party to cross the continent from south to north in the 1860s. The springs were an important source of water for travelers and cattle drovers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and they remain an important water source for the surrounding area today.
In addition to its historical significance, Coward Springs is also known for its natural beauty. The springs are surrounded by a picturesque landscape of red sand dunes and salt flats, and they provide a peaceful and serene spot for visitors to rest and rejuvenate. The area is also home to a variety of native wildlife, including kangaroos, emus, and various bird species.
Coward Springs also has a privately managed camping area. One of our favourite camping spots in the country. Make sure to take a dip in the still functioning hot spring.
8 Oodnadatta - Pink Road House
One of the main attractions in the small town of Oodnadatta is the Pink Roadhouse, which is a historic roadhouse that has been transformed into a quirky and colorful accommodation and dining venue. The Pink Roadhouse is well-known for its bright pink color, which was originally painted as a marketing stunt to attract passing travelers. Today, the Pink Roadhouse is a popular tourist destination and a must-visit for anyone traveling along the Oodnadatta Track.
9 Historical Bridges
The Old Ghan Bridges were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of the original Ghan railway line.
The bridges were an important part of the railway line, allowing trains to cross the various creeks, rivers, and gorges along the route. Today, some of these bridges have been preserved and are now used as scenic stopping points for visitors to the Oodnadatta Track.
One of the most famous Old Ghan Bridges is the trestle bridge at Algebuckina, which is the longest railway bridge in South Australia and one of the largest wooden trestle bridges in the world. Another notable bridge is the steel bridge at Wills Creek, which spans a deep and picturesque gorge in the Outback.
10. Historic Town of Maree
The town of Maree is located at the Southern end of the Oodnadatta track. It's a remote and isolated settlement that is surrounded by stunning red sand dunes and vast deserts. Despite its remote location, Maree is a historic and fascinating destination that is worth a visit.
Maree was originally established as a water stop for trains passing through the desert, and it became an important hub for the transport of goods and people in the outback. Today, Maree is a small but bustling town that is home to a few hundred residents, who live and work in the region.
One of the main attractions in Maree is the historic railway station, which is a well-preserved example of early 20th-century railway architecture. The station is now a museum, which displays a collection of artifacts and memorabilia related to the town's railway history. Visitors can also take a tour of the station and learn about its role in the development of the region.
Another popular attraction in Maree is the local art gallery, which features a collection of works by local artists and indigenous artists from the surrounding deserts. The gallery provides a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region and showcases the incredible talent of the local artists.
Camping Along The Track (in no particular order):
The Oodnadatta Track offers a range of camping options for overlanders, ranging from designated camping grounds to free remote and secluded bush campsites. Here are some of the most popular camping spots along the track:
In conclusion, the Oodnadatta Track is a legendary outback road that offers travellers so much to see and do. Put it in your bucket list!!
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