Known colloquially as the ‘Oodna’ Track’, the Oodnadatta
Track is one of the iconic Australian outback drives. The track follows an old
Aboriginal trading route, who passed through this semi arid desert country by
following a 'string of springs'. This route was then used by 19th century
explorers such as John McDouall Stuart, paving the way for the Old Ghan Railway
line towards Alice Springs. Today, this track is used by mainly travellers eager
for some history or after a taste of adventure and the outback experience. These
our modern day explorers follow the route, passing disused railway sidings and
other ruins, passing artesian springs and waterholes along the way.
historic centre is the township of
the crossroad, thronged with
drovers, cameleers, goldminers and Aboriginal people. Oodnadatta became even
more of a hub when the transcontinental railway started its construction
in 1891. Prior to its completion in 1929, all the mail, freight and
travellers were transhipped, taking six days on camelback, to
The Oodnadatta Track officially starts from
Marree in the south or
Marla in the
north. Some maps show it starting from
Lyndhurst, south of Marree, whilst many
Leigh Creek and
their starting point. The Oodnadatta Track closely follows a section of the route of Charles Todd’s
Overland Telegraph Line which ran from Port Augusta to Darwin. This same section
of the route was that of the Old Ghan, before the current new Ghan Route of
today that detours to the west.
There are a number of camping opportunities along the route, including the
Springs and the pub at
William Creek. Stretching 615 km from Marree in
the south, to Marla in the north, you can take the Stuart Highway down to
Cooper Pedy and either follow the route back up to Oodnadatta or pass
Anna Creek to William Creek. The road is unsealed with sandy patches
that can become impassable after rain.
You can also make Marla from the Stuart Highway to Oodnadatta, your departure point for those planning to cross the Simpson Desert and visiting the
Witjira National Park,
with the popular
Oodnadatta is an aboriginal word meaning ‘blossom of the mulga’.
The Oodnadatta Track crosses the traditional lands of three Aboriginal groups.
In the south, between Lake Torrens and Lake Eyre are the Kuyani people;
most of the west of Lake Eyre has been traditionally occupied by the Arabana
people; and to the north is the land of Arrernte people. Now may people
from further west, Antikirinya people, live here too.1
More information about
Oodnadatta Track and the many locations along the route.