The bitumen extends almost to Marree these days. It’s another spot where you choose your adventure – the Birdsville Track or the Oodnadatta Track. This time it’s the Oodnadatta Track.
This road is all about its history. This is the way that Mr Stuart charted his path north. Once he had found the route the Overland Telegraph (1872) soon followed and the the railway slowly crept north reaching Marree in 1884, Oodnadatta in 1891 and Alice Springs in 1929. If you were going to Alice between 1891 and 1929 you completed the journey by camel!
Darwin had to wait until 2004 for the train to arrive by which time the southern section had been rerouted along a more westerly path. So although the Ghan is still running the Oodnadatta Track runs alongside an abandoned railway passing little ghost towns along the way.
There’s a train standing in the station at Marree with nowhere to go. Not far from it is one of Tom Kruze’s trucks retired from sterling service on the Birdsville …
From Marree to Oodnadatta the country is dry. Much of it is gibber plain. Eucalypts are only found along the drainage lines, even the Mulga struggles out here.
At William Creek you can get a beer or even have a driving lesson. If you choose to come by plane you can park virtually at the pub door.
Because we’d chosen to bring the dog we couldn’t take a side trip to see Lake Eyre currently in flood.
Not to worry we’d seen it both wet and dry before. We spent two nights on the track. The first at Coward Springs partly for a plunge in the hot tub (luke warm really) but mainly for the birds which are attracted to the wetland formed by the bore.
Beyond Oodnadatta the country seems a little more prosperous. We saw a few Red Kangaroos and there were cattle grazing. The second night was passed on a creek bank not far short of Marla.
There had been a lot posted on the web regarding the state of the road. It was really pretty good. We probably averaged 70 to 80 kph without much discomfort. Some of the traffic going the other way were managing even higher speeds and one of them put a chip in our windscreen. Bugger.