It’s hard to say but a pleasure to experience – the Oodnadataa Track! 620 kilometres of pure Australian Outback, this track is home to historic landmarks and natural wonders alike. It’s an ideal track for campers and caravanners no matter what level of experience. And one of our favourites to date.
We recently travelled the Oodnadatta Track looking to soak up the history of the surrounding small towns and see the Australian outback in all of its golden glory.
the Journey Begins
We started the first leg of our journey coming from the Flinders ranges in South Australia and travelling North through to Marree. We spent some time familiarising ourselves with sights and soaking in the culture of the quaint, quiet town. There are many sights to see and we wanted to see them all. We started with the Old Ghan railway station and moved on to the Historic pub honouring the legendary Birdsville Track Mailman Tom Kruse. We even made our way out to the old mosque where the cameleers of the past and their families worshipped. With a deep and rich history baked into the soil you can feel the culture of decades past from these wondrous places, with more stories to tell than minutes in a day, there’s always something to uncover and learn about.
From Marree we made our way up the road to the next stop, William Creek. The drive was pretty smooth with only some corrugations and dust along the way. Travelling to the conditions we were making great time. We even managed to stop every now and then to view the southernmost end of Lake Eyre, taking in the beautiful views and countryside. Having worked and lived in outback Queensland for many years as a jackaroo and Livestock agent, I had always wanted to see them up close. With plenty of time left time in the day we arrived at William Creek for lunch.
William Creek is an interesting Roadhouse with an eclectic collection of remnants from the Woomera Rocket Range era and provides many aerial tours for tourists. We didn’t spend too long in town as we wanted to make our next milestone by nightfall.
Due to the remote location, refuelling can be a costly necessity out there. However, we have a philosophy of supporting local businesses wherever possible, so when travelling we know each dollar assists in providing service and jobs to small communities. Because of this we are always more than happy to give when we can.
We left William Creek via the road through Anna Creek Station which is known for being the largest cattle station in the world, for Coober Pedy. Our target was to arrive before dark to avoid livestock and any potential damage. It turned out that this road was a dirt highway and beautiful to travel with large red sand dunes, cattle camped around the bores and the odd table top jump ups as we got closer to Coober Pedy. The countryside was scenic and picturesque – To experience the outback in its raw and true form this is the best way to do it.
Unexpected Hiccups along the way
Our travels then took us to the Stuart Range Big 4 Caravan Park arriving just prior to dusk. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, we had lost both our 7-pin round plug and our Anderson plug on the road, only noticing when we stopped the van to unhook the trailer. We had arrived with all the wiring dragging on the ground. A lesson learnt to keep your cables suspended high above ground level (especially when travelling dirt roads with a central crown and crossing cattle grids).
The park proved a great choice, as the sites and amenities were well maintained and with excellent security. The owner has lived the last 50 odd years in the town and has a lifetime of experience and knowledge to share with those who will listen.We decided to take the town tour with him in his mini bus. It was a truly great learning experience, detailing the opal mining industry in which the area is known for as well as a vast history of the landscape. The many mullock heaps in the area make you feel as if you’re on the surface of the moon.
He then took us on an underground tour, demonstrating how the miners cut the tunnels and walls with a mini crawler tractor machine and vacuum suction device that clears the overburden out of the tunnels to a silo truck outside.We travelled past the sand green golf course with sump oil greens, and out to the many mines surrounding the outskirts of Coober Pedy where we were brought to the most beautiful lookout over the Breakaways.
From here you can see everything, with the jump ups adorning the edge of the Painted Desert along with the dingo fences. We then went back into town to the underground museum and experienced a real home and its underground setup – a true experience of how the majority of the locals live.
Post Trip Reflections
No matter where we were or what we saw on our journey, we thoroughly enjoyed our travels along the Oodnadatta Track. With unique and amazing sights, both man-made and natural, you will never run out of things to see or do.
Taking the time to speak to the friendly and charming locals will also offer a perspective rich history with fascinating stories. This gives you a real feel for how the locals live in Outback Australia, as well as for those who lived here before all those years ago.
We highly recommend taking your time along this track and soaking in as much of the landscape as you can.