There are many Australian “tracks” that attract those wanting a taste of the outback and one of the more well-known is the legendary “Oodnadatta Track”.
Drive north from Port Pirie/Port Augusta and the bitumen ends at Marree. It’s there that outback drivers face one of two options : north-east just over 500kms to Birdsville in Queensland, or just over 600kms north-west to Marla via Oodnadatta, on the Stuart Highway connecting to the Northern Territory. Severe flooding further north and east in Queensland had cut the roads to Birdsville from that side so a trip to the iconic outback town for us would have been up, AND back with the real risk of being stuck once we got there. Common sense prevailed, and while the Oodnadatta Track was longer we did not have to do it in duplicate – and it tied in better with our other plans. Birdsville would be worked in later in the trip.
The track’s original function was to support the building of a telegraph line and later served to help build a railway ( the famous “Ghan” line ). Neither are used now ( the telegraph line and its stations redundant, and the Ghan line replaced with a new line further west less prone to flooding ) but remnants can be found at places along the route. It’s rugged, rough in places, and extremely remote but offers one great solitude and mile after mile of flat desert sands for as far as the eye can see.
While the route starts in Maree, the sealed road to Marree also offered some great scenery, passes through several very historic South Australian towns and more kangaroo and emu sightings than we would see on the Oodnadatta Track itself. A short detour via the Flinders Ranges provided yet more variation on the scenery than on the direct route to Marree so we tacked that on to our journey, albeit briefly.
Two outback travel rules ( which we both know well ) were broken on the run to Marree – never pass a fuel bowser without filling up, and don’t drive after 4pm. The fuel bowser we relied on was faulty ( we made it, but with less margin than we like ), and we found there were WAY more animals on the road after 4pm ( nearly wiped out our first kangaroo ! ). Lesson learned.
That minor drama aside the next two days in Maree and on the Oodnadatta Track itself were amazing. Our stop in Maree gave us a chance to sample some memorable Aussie outback pub fare ( the chicken parmy was a special treat ). We camped in the parking area of the pub voted “Best Pub in Maree” ( yes, also the ONLY pub in Maree ) – and currently the only camping option in Maree. A few stories were shared with fellow travellers especially tips on the road ahead.The Maree Hotel also has a famous museum inside – the Tom Kruz museum- that pays homage to a famous local postman bearing almost the same name as his better known Hollywood namesake. Tom’s is an interesting story – spelled out in tales and pictures on the walls of a room dedicated in his honor.
If you like great expanses of almost nothing and long, endless roads then this track is your bag ! We would have liked to have done it with a few less corrugations but hey, that comes with the outback. Traffic was sparse ( as expected ) and the towns/settlements along the way ( really only William Creek and Oodnadatta itself ) offered interesting respite and some historical perspective on this legendary outback route.
Till next week….
The outback is so interesting (from my perspective living on the CAnadian prairies). Glad you didn’t have any van glitches seeing that you were miles from any help at times, (kind of like NWT).
Did you get to Coober Pedy? Fun memories when Lo and I were there. It would be interesting to see how it’s changed. The drone shots are cool.
Stay tuned for Coober Pedy shots in a couple of weeks . Lo says it’s bigger now but many people still live underground !
I love the video shorts… Especially the drive by! The railway on that bridge looks narrow
Yes. Old track, likely narrow gauge !
I am Lyle Lindsays brother.. He sent me your link. We spent a couple of months in Australia a number of years ago.. Camped for a month.. It was great.
Glad to hear and nice to have you along for our journey. It really is an amazing part of Oz!
Glad you enjoyed some of our outback already. Don’t miss Ceduna waterfront – don’t leave your van unattended though. Take the detour off the Eyre Hwy & go into Fowlers Bay – there is a bitumen rd in & a dirt one that’s ok out again. Something very unique there!!
My curiosity is piqued ! Will do !
600kms on the track??? Amazing. Well done on the “b” roll for the van drive-by. You guys are looking pro!
Lol! Well, hardly “pro” but trying to learn a few new tricks once in a while 😊. Hope all’s well in Vancouver.
Hi Jeff and Lois! Loving your travel adventures. The video’s really add perspective! Starting to plan our Australia adventure, so seeing what your doing is awesome, albeit not quiet as adventurous as you two are! Take care!
Good to hear, hopefully in the next 12 months or so and our paths might cross!