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Oodnadatta Track

The famous Oodnadatta Track runs for 618km through outback South Australia. It’s a rugged track which varies in conditions. Some parts we were doing 80km/hour, another part it took us 50 min to travel 15km!​

​It has a lot of history and it’s probably the most historical track in Australia. While travelling this track you are driving alongside the old Ghan Railway, with many opportunities to see the rails and sleepers, old bridges and the ruins of the old sidings. The Old Ghan Railway line closed in 1980.

The track also has Artesian mound springs which supply water to the region and Aborigines relied on this water source to live. As did the European explorers who used the route to build the Overland Telegraph and the Old Ghan railway lines in the late 19th century.

The Pink Roadhouse is what most people know about Oodnadatta, and to be honest there isn’t too much else there! It’s your one stop place for food, fuel, groceries, souvineers, postal services etc. It’s a unique little place and everything is pink! They’ve done a little work inside since our last visit and it’s looking good.

The Algebuckina Bridge is Shelly’s favourite bridge to photograph and of course we had to come back for more photos! Shelly got plenty of photo and exploring time while George rewired the trailer brakes again!

This bridge opened in January 1892 and was the longest bridge in South Australia until recently. The bridge is one of the old Ghan Railway’s bridges and it crosses the floodplain of the Neales River.

After a major flood in the mid 1970’s, the water almost reached the bridge decks and the line was subequently closed and a new route built to the west.

This car below is apparently the remains of a 1948 FJ Holden that was hit by a train half way across the bridge, after the driver attempted to drive across the rail bridge during a flood, luckily he survived.

Our visit to William Creek this time saw us stay for a little longer than last and we actually made it into the William Creek Hotel for a beer this time round!

William Creek is a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, they actually say William Creek is in the middle of nowhere, on the way to somewhere, outback South Australia.

With a permanent population of about 10, this is the smallest settlement in South Australia. It’s basically halfway along the Oodnadatta Track and it sits in the centre of Australia’s, and the world’s, largest cattle station, Anna Creek Station (SK Kidman).

Inside the William Creek Hotel

We spent 2 nights camped on the Oodnadatta Track, the first night was a lovely free camping spot and the second night we stayed at Coward Springs.

There is a lot of history to this area aswell and the current owners have preserved a lot of this for visitors to see. They have also created a great little campground with showers and toilets and fire pits for each campsite. It was quite busy the night we were there but each camp area is hidden between trees so it’s actually quite private.

The picture above is of the warm bore spa on the grounds, if only we’d arrived a bit earlier in the day when it was warmer!

The Coward Springs property is actually currently for sale ….. wonder if Gelly & Charli want to move to the outback with mummy and daddy and be farm dogs😛

There are ruins all along this track and if you like history, you’ll love it! .

Some of the old buildings you can walk around inside which can be a little creepy at times!

There are plenty of ruins of old sidings, but also complete old villages, it’s great to see.

As you can imagine, given the age, some of these buildings aren’t in the best condition and some are unfortunately no more than a pile of rubble.

Quite a few though are being restored to their former glory, or at least stabilised so they remain for people to see.

Lake Eyre is the 3rd largest salt lake in the world and the largest in Australia. It is also the lowest point in Australia, at about 15m below sea level.

This lake is huge and we only saw a little of the southern end. At 1.2 million square kilometers, the Lake Eyre Basin covers almost one-sixth of Australia and is one of the world’s largest internally draining river systems. In saying this though, as the catchment area is fully within the desert areas of Central Australia it very rarely fills with water.

When it does flood though it’s amazing, we’ve seen photos and heard the stories and it would be a sight to see. We believe there is currently some water in sections of the lake, but it’s certainly not full.

The last really big flood was back in 2010 or 2011 and this actually saw the Cooper Creek car ferry running, that would have been an experience to travel on that! Hopefully next time it is full we will arrange a flight over it to see this amazing sight.

The Oodnadatta Track is a great drive and there is heaps to see, particularly if you pull off to see Coober Pedy and the Painted Desert and surrounds. We’ve done that before but would love to go back and spend some more time exploring.

George maybe pretended to be a train!

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