27 March 2013
The Oodnadatta Track is an unsealed 617 km outback road in the Australian state of South Australia passing from Marree in the south-east to Marla in the north-west via Oodnadatta. Along the way, the track passes the southern lake of the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park, and the settlements of William Creek and Oodnadatta.
The track follows a traditional Aboriginal trading route. Along the Track are numerous springs feeding water from the Great Artesian Basin. Later, because of the availability of water, the route was chosen for the steam-train powered Central Australia Railway, the original route of The Ghan, also the route taken by the explorer John McDouall Stuart on his third expedition in 1859.
Remnants of the many railway sidings and bridges, the ruins of railway buildings, and Overland Telegraph repeater stations are located along the track – some of the best preserved are the Coward Springs Campground – complete with natural artesian spa and the abandoned Curdimurka railway siding.
Today, the Oodnadatta Track roughly follows the former railway line as far north as Oodnadatta, and then turns to the west, meeting the sealed Stuart Highway at Marla.
The Track was named by Adam Plate of the Oodnadatta Progress Association Inc. in about 1980 to form a trilogy of unsealed tourist routes with the Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks nearby.