The Oodnadatta Track,
also known as the Oodna Track, is
a well know outback route that follows the Old Ghan railway line towards
This was the route for 19th century explorers such as John McDouall Stuart. The
track follows an old Aboriginal trading route, that passes through semi arid
desert country, disused railway sidings and other ruins, and passing artesian springs and waterholes along the way.
provides a holiday route for many tourists, eager for some history,
adventure and a taste of the outback.
The township of
Oodnadatta is the historic centre that was once a crossroad thronged with
drovers, cameleers, goldminers and Aboriginal people, that became even
more of a hub when the transcontinental railway started its construction
in 1891. Before it was completed 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
travellers make Leigh Creek and
Copley as their starting
For those planning the trek, it is an easy drive, with camping facilities and
opportunities at a number of locations along the route, including Coward
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 Marree/Oodnadatta the
departure point for crossing the Simpson Desert and visiting the Witjira National Park, the road closely follows the route of Charles Todds
Overland Telegraph Line which ran from
Port Augusta to
Near William Creek, theres a detour to Lake Eyre North, a massive
salt lake that fills up about every 100 years. Travellers should sought
advice and the condition of the track before tackling it. The Oodnadatta
Track is also home to Anna Creek Station, the worlds largest cattle
station covering some 34,000 sq km (6 million acres) and belonging to
the Kidman group of properties. The next largest cattle station is in
the Northern Territory Alexandria Station at 8000 sq km. The largest cattle property in the USA is small in comparison at only
3,000 sq km.
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
When youre travelling the track make sure youre well prepared. Check out
our listing of
accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information,
contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more
attractions, tours, local maps and other information.