Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Oodnadatta Track

The unsealed Oodnadatta Track runs the 407 km from Marree  to Oodnadatta. From there a road goes from Oodnadatta north 209 km to Marla on the Stuart Highway or 284 km to Finke.

This track used to be the only route inland, following the Overland Telegraph Line in 1871. It was also followed by the Old Ghan Line, the Central Australian Railway, in 1880. Prior to the 1970s the track was cut every time floodwaters came past. In the 1970s the sealed Stuart Highway was built to the west of the original track, following a flood-free route. The railway route was also moved to follow the same route as the highway. The original railway line was abandoned in 1982. As a result, the towns and other places along the original track, first for camel trains, and later the railway, had closed down after 100 years of service. The old track has been rediscovered by the more adventurous drivers.

North to Lake Eyre

This track also heads north from Marree . A good, well equipped vehicle, with plenty of emergency supplies, are needed for this trek. 4-wheel-drives can travel the 94 km to Lake Eyre North along a station road to Muloorina. Travelling north it passes through the Dog Fence (dingo fence) and on to Prescott Point on the edge of the Goyder Channel. This is the channel linking the 2 sections of Lake Eyre. In the 20th century water flowed through this channel 3 times. It flowed south in 1950 and 1974 and north in 1984. After checking at Muloorina Homestead, camping is permitted on the station. The return trip is along the same route.

Salty Desert Springs

Heading north-west the track follows the old Telegraph and Ghan lines. A series of deserted [?] are passed on the way to the western edge of Lake Eyre South. Hamilton Hill, just before Coward Springs is the southern turn-off to Bubbler Springs and Blanche Springs, mound springs supplied by water from the Great Artesian Basin. The is a shady roadside camp site.

William Creek Supply Stop

204 km north of Marree  is the first supply stop, William Creek. Along the William Creek section of the track is the only other accessible route to Lake Eyre. The 4-wheel-drive track leads to ABC Bay. It is a 120 km round trip back to Oodnadatta. From William Creek the Oodnadatta Track leaves the Telegraph Line route, heading northwest, parallel with the Woomera Rocket Range boundary.

Abandoned Telegraph Sites

15 km off the Oodnadatta Track, 83 km north of Oodnadatta, is the Peak Historic Site. In 1891 this cluster of restored telegraph station buildings was originally abandoned. The track crosses Neales Creek next to the old Algebuckina Rail Bridge. The waterhole by the creek is a popular campsite. Neales Creek swings around and the track crosses it again a few kilometres outside Oodnadatta. There are good camp sites along the usually dry creek bed.

Desert Junction

Oodnadatta is a busy desert town with a population of several hundred people. All supplies are available here. From Oodnadatta there are several routes that can be taken. One track goes to Uluru and Alice Springs via Marla. This road is unsealed but good, and the 200 km of the road are easy driving. A 244 km road to Alice Springs, but one that also goes to the Simpson Desert and Mt Dare, goes north from Oodnadatta. This road is less well maintained than the other road.

Sources & Further reading


Birdsville Track
Canning Stock Route
Oodnadatta Track
Strzelecki Track
Tanami Track
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading