Oodnadatta & William Creek, South Australia 19-20 November 2016

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November 19th 2016
Published: December 11th 2016
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Saturday 19 November 2016

Next was onto Oodnadatta which is situated around 200km from the Stuart Highway along the Oodnadatta Track and only 85km from Arckaringa. The track is unsealed, but the road to Oodnadatta was excellent.

The town itself was small enough to walk around and used to be a railway centre. The old Ghan railway station is largely preserved and is a museum. It was interesting to walk from room to room in the old station, learning about the history of the region and the consequences of the railway line moving away from the town.

Oodnadatta has survived, despite the Ghan being relocated westward, with a population of around 200 and probably because it is on a main tourist route with not much between it and the next place.

There are some famous landmarks which we visited, with probably the best known being the Pink Roadhouse started by Adam and Lynnie. Unfortunately, Adam didn't survive an accident in his rally car whilst competing in a Targa Rally.

They had been around for years and could tell visitors everything they would ever want to know about the area. Any pink information signs that we saw along the track in the region had been erected by them and they had even produced some of their own local maps which we utilised on our travels. The Roadhouse also had pink Akubra-like hats and pink stubby coolers for sale!!!

Lynne continued to run the business with the help of her sister but has subsequently sold the business and moved on. The people who work in the Roadhouse now were all young people from overseas and were very enthusiastic and helpful. They were busy putting up Christmas decorations. We stayed in the caravan park at the back of the Roadhouse and of course everything was painted pink there. Facilities were good. Diesel was $1.77/ltr.

We went to the Intercontinental Hotel for a cold beer and a chat with the manager. Most of the clientele were local Aboriginals enjoying their music etc. That night there was a thunder storm but only a little rain. The sunset was spectacular.

Sunday 20 November 2016

On the Sunday, after one night, we left Oodnadatta and started our trip down The Track. The Oodnadatta Track, which ends at Marree, is an unsealed 620 kilometre track between Marree and Marla via Oodnadatta in South Australia. It passes the southern lake of the Lake Eyre National Park. We saw many lakes, most of which are mere dry saltbeds.

The track once formed the main route into Central Australia and the Northern Territory and is the same path as the Overland Telegraph Line. Remains of the Old Ghan Line can be seen along the way in the form of bridges across creeks, the line the track took, some old sleepers on occasions and more as it runs through the Great Central Desert and into the Northern Territory.

Its popularity as a main access route has diminished but it has gained tremendous popularity with many as an easier 4wd trip. We found the condition of the Track fantastic. There was even a 50km stretch which was made of white material and looked very new and was beautiful to drive on. We thanked the road builders for their work on our CB radio as we had been listening to them chat on Channel 40.

After Old Women Creek we followed 2 graders for about 25km so once again, driving was easy. We only experienced very short distances of corrugations due to all the work that had been done on the Track recently.

There are a couple of stretches without fuel along this trip, the longest being about 205 kilometers from William Creek to Maree, so filling up before departing William Creek was a good idea.

After leaving Oodnadatta at about 10.30am, we passed through Mount Dutton Ruins after the Allandale Homestead turnoff. Just upstream from the track crossing is the Algebuckina Bridge which is on the western side of the Track. This is the largest bridge ever constructed in South Australia and was built to carry the Ghan Rail Track. On the northern end of the bridge are the graves of workers involved in the bridge's construction.

We walked partly across the bridge and went down to the billabong/river below it. I went down to my ankles in mud as I was approaching the water. It took me 15 minutes to remove all the mud from my feet and shoes as it was so sticky.

We drove over to the eastern side of the Track and one of the road builders attracted our attention so we stopped. He told us about the permanent Algebuckina waterhole which was through a gate past their work camp and recommended we visit it. We drove past their camp which consisted of about 10 vans and all their trucks and equipment to arrive at the waterhole. It was part of the Neales River system and is very deep apparently. We had our coffee there and headed south again.

About 80km south from Oodnadatta and south of Algebuckina is the monument erected in memory of Ernest Giles who did a fair bit of exploring in the area. The track leading east at the monument leads to the Peake Telegraph Station ruins which comprises of several old stone buildings. Whilst there has been some restoration work done here much is still in a state of ruin.

The telegraph station is about 15km down the track but we decided not to drive in. Interestingly, the building of this telegraph station plus the already existing Peake Homestead and a newly built police station made this area into a reasonably sized community. It all came to an end and was abandoned in the early 1890's when Oodnadatta came into existence and most of the public servants were relocated there.

A few kilometres north of William Creek is the junction with William Creek Road to Anna Creek, not far down the track, and, ultimately, Coober Pedy about 165km from the junction. Anna Creek Station is the largest cattle Station in the world.

We arrived in William Creek around 3.00pm after driving almost 200kms. William Creek is a small town but was a welcome stopping off place after the journey from Oodnadatta.

We checked into the caravan park with power (to use our air-conditioning in the 38degree heat!!!) and then went to the William Creek pub for a beer and a chat to the lady who had been working there for 3 years. She was full of stories. We also called Kerrie our daughter for her birthday which was the following day. We used the Hotel’s phone as there was certainly no mobile phone service out in those areas. There was certainly no internet available for visitors either.

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