The Oodnadatta Track is an unsealed 620 km (385 mi) outback road between Marree and Marla via Oodnadatta in South Australia. Along the way, the track passes the southern lake of the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park, and the outback settlements of William Creek and Oodnadatta.
The track follows a traditional Aboriginal trading route. It provides travellers with stunning semi-desert scenery. Along the Track are numerous springs feeding water from the Great Artesian Basin, the most accessible examples being the mound springs found in Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park near Coward Springs.
Despite its remoteness and legendary status, the track can normally be enjoyed by grey nomads towing conventional vans or driving large rigs. It stretches 630 kilometres between Marree and Marla in South Australia and delivers some eerie and moonlike desert scenery.
Coming south from Marree, you can take an early detour to Lake Eyre. The vast salt lake is normally dry but, when it fills with water, the wildflowers, wildlife and water birds are amazing. Springs feeding water from the Great Artesian Basin litter the track and that’s why the original Ghan railway (which ceased service in 1980) was built here. Remains of old sidings and Overland Telegraph Repeater stations can still be seen.
The Coward Springs rail siding has certainly been a welcome sight for many a dusty driver and the campground here even has a soothing bore to relax in. It’s a great place to exchange tales with fellow travellers and to learn about the area. As the track continues through the vast treeless landscape, the occasional twisted metal sculpture and sign help keep motorists interested and amused.
If you need to stock up along the way, be sure stop at the the Pink Roadhouse. They provide hot food, fuel, groceries, fruit & vegetables, heavy transport, a Caravan Park, tourist information, tyres and repairs, breakdown vehicle recovery and vehicle transport if required.
Another must-see destination along the trek is the Painted Desert. Created more than 80 million years ago, it forms part of the spectacular breakaway country, located 50 kilometres south west of Oodnadatta. The Painted Desert is a superb example of the forces of nature weathering and eroding the desert landscape.