The Oodnadatta Track is 620 kilometres of legendary outback track that takes travellers on a journey of discovery, exploration and imagination.
You might be thinking that all outback tracks are the same: lots of wide open spaces and not much to see or do.
You might also be thinking that you need very advanced driving skills and lots of special recovery gear in your vehicle to see these places.
Well, we’d like to introduce you to the Oodnadatta Track.
It’s the ideal track for first timers to offroad driving in the outback, and yet it’s got enough to see and do along the way to satisfy even the best-travelled outback explorer.
Oh, and did we tell you that it’s Amanda’s most favourite outback track? She’ll make us drive on it at least twice every year.
Dive in and find out why we love this legendary outback track so much.
You can now purchase & download an extended, more detailed 150 page version of this guide as a PDF here for the price of a cup of coffee.
The PDF Guide features additional destinations NOT included here, detailed notes about Aboriginal culture & European history and exclusive done-for-you trip itineraries to take the headache out of planning your trip.
Why You Should Go
Although the word ‘Oodnadatta’ sounds remote, tough and dangerous, the Track is actually one of the easiest outback tracks to drive.
In our opinion, it’s the best introduction to remote area driving (and bush camping) in the entire outback – which is one BIG reason why you should go.
Most of the time, the track is a very good, well maintained gravel road (except after rain). We’ve been able to travel along some sections at speeds of up to 110 km/h.
This makes the track a very real alternative to the Stuart Highway if you’re travelling to or from the Northern Territory.
In fact, the track is so good, we’ve seen those bright green ‘Jucy Rentals’ vans on it several times.
However, there’s more than just great outback driving here.
For a start there’s artesian hot springs to swim in and great waterholes to camp at. There’s some fabulously picturesque places to camp at along the way:
Then there’s the track’s unique history. You’re following the route of the original old Ghan Railway from Adelaide to Alice Springs, so there are plenty of historic railway sidings and buildings to stop and explore.
And of course, there’s Lake Eyre. From the Oodnadatta Track you pass right by Lake Eyre South.
Just seeing Australia’s largest lake with your own eyes has got to be worth the trip!
The Oodnadatta Track begins at Marree in South Australia and travels roughly northwest for 620 kilometres through the tiny town of Oodnadatta before looping back to the Stuart Highway at Marla.
Although we’ve seen people travelling the track in ordinary vehicles, we really do recommend that you take a 4WD. Any 4WD will be better on this track than a 2WD sedan (or a Backpacker van!).
Along the way, the Track passes Lake Eyre, and you can stop for a quick beer and bite to eat in William Creek, all the time following the historic route of the old Ghan Railway.
The Track also passes by the largest cattle station (ranch) in the world: Anna Creek– and some of the world’s most unique desert features: mound springs.
You can get to the Oodnadatta Track from a few different places:
- From the south, via the Flinders Ranges, Lyndhurst and Marree
- Alternatively, you get onto the track along the Borefield Track from Roxby Downs and Woomera
- From the north, via the Stuart Highway at Marla or be even more adventurous and join the Track from either Charlotte Waters, Andado or after a Simpson Desert crossing
- From the west, you can get to the track from Coober Pedy and Cadney Park
A trip along the Track is easy to combine with other Outback trips and destinations:
- A Flinders Ranges tour and then head south or north along the Stuart Hwy
- A trip to Ayers Rock via either Marla or Charlotte Waters, Finke and then Kulgera
- Travel to Alice Springs via the Old Ghan Heritage Trail or via the Andado and Binns Tracks
- A visit to Dalhousie Springs
- The ultimate desert adventure: drive up to Dalhousie Springs and then cross the Simpson Desert
- A trip up the Birdsville Track (pictured above).
See and Do
As we’ve said above, the Track is perfect for those who’ve never driven a remote outback track before.
But what’s fabulous about the track is the incredible amount there is to see and do along the way. We’ve driven the track numerous times in the past few years and we STILL haven’t seen everything there is to see yet.
You can start the track from either end (Marla in the north or Marree in the south) and still see everything we’re writing about on this page.
GET THIS ENTIRE GUIDE AND MUCH MORE as a PDF/ebook you can take with you:
- Additional points of interest & side trips not featured here.
- Detailed Aboriginal cultural notes, European history, bird watching tips & more.
- Done-for-you trip plans ranging from 2-5 days.
- VEHICLE PREPARATION AND PACKING GUIDE.
- OVER 140 PAGES
Driving Itinerary: Marree to William Creek (215km)
Starting at Marree (the southern end of the track) means you start in an iconic outback town – the site where both the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks begin.
There’s quite a bit to see at Marree:
- The Blitz Truck that belonged to the famous Birdsville Track Mailman, Tom Kruse
- Grab a beer, a bite to eat, or stay overnight at the famous Marree Hotel
- Historic Hergott Springs (just outside of the town)
The famous Marree Hotel: make sure you have a beer!
Once you leave Marree, you’ll pass:
- Muloorina Station (Lake Eyre access and fabulous camping area)
- Lake Eyre South
- Ghan Railway sidings to stop and explore: Callalanna, Alberrie, Margaret Siding, and Curdimurka. Curdimurka is especially well preserved.
- The outback’s most unexpected sculpture park.
When you get to Coward Springs, stop and take a swim or should that be bath in the hot tub? (Yes, it really is a spring-fed hot tub, but there’s only room for 5 or 6 people).
Coward Springs is a popular campground, located next to a natural wetland and nestled beneath a grove of massive Athel Pines. Oh and for travellers with Optus cover it has its very own tower.
The campground can get busy here, but whenever we’ve stayed, we’ve always been able to find a place to camp a little away from others.
The current fees for the campground (2022) are $15.00 per adult, with children half price.
As well as the hot tub, Coward Springs has showers and toilets, camel tours (during winter), a small museum and several walks. If you’re into birdwatching then it’s a must!
Coward Springs has its own great website, where you can book accommodation, camel tours and learn more about this special oasis in the desert. They also have their own Facebook page. Please make sure you check out: www.cowardsprings.com.au
Right near Coward Springs (less than 10 minutes) is the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park where you can see some pretty unique mound springs:
- Blanche Cup
- The Bubbler
It will only take you a few minutes to drive out to these unique springs from the main track, and they’re well worth a look. They are hugely important water sources for the fragile ecosystem in this area, and were used by Arabana (Aboriginal) people for several thousand years.
The Bubbler is a great little spring that does exactly what it says -bubbles- but not quite as you’d expect.
Heading north again up the Oodnadatta Track, you’ll come to Beresford Siding, another of the old Ghan railway stops.
Beresford has a few things to look at. The prominent tower that’s pictured below was used for the desalination of artesian water which was used in the steam trains. Also, there are the ruins of the fettlers’ cottages to explore, a flowing bore and a tree-lined dam.
You could take a swim in the dam, but I’m sure most city folk would be too faint-hearted to try!
Returning to the Oodnadatta Track from Beresford Siding, you’ll notice a hill. On the west side of this hill is a historical site which has equipment used to guide and track rockets launched by the Woomera facility.
The Strangways Historic site is next along the way, on the west side of the track.
Strangways was the site of the first homestead on the pastoral property of the same name (it’s now called ‘Anna Creek’ and is the biggest pastoral station in the world).
Strangways was sold to the South Australian government in 1870, and became a repeater station on the Overland Telegraph Line.
At its peak, it was a small village with a number of buildings. The site was selected as it was next to a mound spring. This mound spring, unfortunately, is now dry. The station was closed down in 1896 and moved to William Creek.
Heading north, you’ll find the turnoff to Lake Eyre and Halligan Bay, a few kilometres out of William Creek.
A side trip to Lake Eyre is well worthwhile if you’ve got the time and 4WD experience to do it.
We’ve written an entire guide to Lake Eyre, so if you’re interested in doing this side trip, you can learn all about road conditions, camping and more by clicking here.
William Creek to Oodnadatta (207km)
William Creek is the next stop along the way.
It’s most famous for its pub, where you can also get fuel, meals, ‘donga’ style accommodation and book flights over Lake Eyre.
At the very least, have a drink at the bar! It too has Optus cover.
There’s a campground across the road from the pub (you can’t miss it – there is nothing else in William Creek!)
Observant people will also spot some Oppenheimer Poles left over from the Overland Telegraph Line when it ran through here.
Heading north from William Creek, the next point of interest is a cairn marking the Elders Scientific Expedition and Edwards Creek village ruins – which mark the halfway point on the track.
Not far from the Elders’ Cairn, you’ll find a turnoff on the east side of the track to the Peake Telegraph Station Historic site.
This makes an interesting side tour, but BE WARNED: it’s 25km in to the ruins and it is a slow 4WD track (took us an hour to get in, towing a camper trailer).
Although it’s slow going, the side trip to Peake is worth it.
Peake was not only a telegraph repeater station, it was also a village and a mine. You can spend several hours wandering around the ruins (which are in reasonable condition), and exploring the nearby mound spring.
You can no longer camp at the Peake Telegraph Station site.
Heading north again, you’ll come to one of the best known sites on the Oodnadatta Track, and what is probably Australia’s most photographed railway bridge: Algebuckina.
The Algebuckina rail bridge is the longest in South Australia, at 578 metres in length.
Whenever we visit, we always marvel at the courage of the workers who built it. Imagine living and working out here over summer in temperatures of 45 C without air conditioning!
Algebuckina is located on the Neale River, and there’s a series of permanent waterholes here, which make it fabulous place to camp.
Whilst many people camp right near the bridge, if you want something a little quieter, head back to the Oodnadatta Track and right across the road, on the eastern side of the track, you’ll find some Pink Roadhouse signs and a gate.
Follow these to a much quieter camping area, which is on the banks of another waterhole.
The drive north from Algebuckina to Oodnadatta is probably the worst section of the track, as there’s a lot of corrugations, some bulldust ruts and a series of sharp bends. They have been working to repair this lately.
Be very careful driving these bends. Several tourists have died on this stretch this of road, as they were simply travelling too fast.
Before you reach Oodnadatta, you’ll pass the Mt Dutton lookout and ruins. Mt Dutton was another of the sidings on the Ghan Railway. These ruins are on private station property, so if you visit them, please leave them as they are.
Oodnadatta to Marla (220km)
Oodnadatta. At last, you’ve reached the little town for which the track was named!
The first place that most people head for is the Pink Roadhouse, previously operated by Adam and Lynnie Plate.
Adam, who was responsible for all the round pink signs found throughout this part of the outback, recently passed away (2012), in tragic circumstances. However, the roadhouse is still going strong with its new owners.
If you call in here for a bite to eat, the ONE thing you must order is the Oodnaburger: Gary’s favourite!
As well as food, fuel, automotive repairs, grocery items and tourist information, the Pink Roadhouse has basic accommodation and camping as well. Guess what? It also has Optus cover.
One thing that REALLY surprised us in Oodnadatta was the museum, which is located in the old Railway Station Buildings. It’s one of the best community museums we’ve seen.
You’ll find high quality displays on Aboriginal history and contemporary stories, natural history, European history, mining, and the Ghan railway.
We came away from the museum with the impression of a community where Aboriginal people and white settlers have come together and are proud of their history, community and future.
Oodnadatta also has a pub with accommodation, a grocery store and a small hospital.
If you’re staying overnight here, take a trip around town to see:
- the Teamster’s Memorial,
- the historic Afghan cemetery,
- the railway dam (where you can swim), and
- Hookey’s waterhole (heading out on the track that goes to Coober Pedy) on Neales Creek
The final 220km stretch of the Oodnadatta Track takes you to Marla. This part of the track is usually in very good condition, and you’ll be able to travel a little faster along this section than the previous one.
Although there’s not as much to see along this final part of the track, there are a number of gorgeous creek crossings, such as Kathleen Creek, which sometimes have waterholes and make great places to camp.
Be warned however as you may see cattle along this section.
Fuel is available along the Track at:
- Outback Roadhouse: (08) 8675 8360
- Oasis Cafe: (08) 8675 8352
- William Creek Hotel: ph. (08) 8670 7880
- Pink Roadhouse: ph. 1800 802 074/(08) 8670 7822
- Marla Traveller’s Rest Roadhouse: ph. (08) 8670 7001
Accommodation (basic hotel/donga-style/camping/caravan parks) available along the Track at:
- Marree Hotel: (08) 8675 8344 /email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oasis Motel and Caravan Park: (08) 8675 8352 /email: email@example.com
Coward Springs (camping/caravans only):
- Call Greg or Prue: (08) 8675 8336 /contact via email here
William Creek (donga-style accommodation/hotel rooms/campgroundcaravan park):
- William Creek Hotel (also looks after the campground): ph. (08) 8670 7880 /email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Algebuckina (free bush camping)
- Pink Roadhouse (basic donga style rooms/campground/caravan park/cabins) ph. 1800 802 074/(08) 8670 7822
- Transcontinental Hotel: (08) 8670 7804 /email: email@example.com
- Traveller’s Rest (basic motel rooms/donga-style cabins/caravan park/campground): 08 8670 7001
The Oodnadatta Track is a good grade, gravel road that is open ALL year round and is suitable for offroad campers and caravans (with care).
- Current road conditions and driving tips are on this page – make sure you check it out before you go
- South Australian Government road conditions web page
- Call the Pink Roadhouse (free call in Australia: 1800 802 074) for the most up-to-the-minute road conditions
Guidebooks & Maps
You can now purchase & download an extended, more detailed 150 page version of our guide as a PDF here for the price of a cup of coffee.
The PDF Guide features additional destinations NOT included here, detailed notes about Aboriginal culture & European history and exclusive done-for-you trip itineraries ranging from 2-5 days to take the headache out of planning your trip.
This instantly downloadable guide features up-to-date costs, mobile phone reception, food & fuel availability, travel times and distances, plus a complete packing and outback vehicle preparation guide & checklist.
Oodnadatta Track Maps
There’s not a lot maps and guidebooks around for the Oodnadatta Track, so we’ve picked out a few of our favourites.
Outback Traveller’s Guide: Oodnadatta Track Map
This series of maps is the most detailed (apart from AUSLIG topographic maps), and comes in a hard-wearing spiral bound booklet.
The maps are strip maps, which include details like creek crossings, grids and where bulldust ruts are located.
The map book is around $23 AUD.
You can purchase the Oodnadatta Track map here.
Westprint Maps: Oodnadatta Track Map
The map is a double-sided, single sheet, covering the Oodnadatta Track from Lyndhurst to Oodnadatta via Marree, Lake Eyre, William Creek and Algebuckina.
As with all of Westprint’s maps, one side has exact GPS locations for points of interest, whilst the side other contains travel and historical information on each area.
This is also a very affordable map (only $14.95).
You can purchase the Westprint Oodnadatta Track map here.
Hema Great Desert Tracks Eastern Sheet
The Great Desert Tracks Eastern Sheet covers from Tennant Creek in the north to Port Pirie in the south, and from Cunamulla in the east to Alice Springs in the west.
Marked on the mapping are roads and 4WD tracks checked by the Hema Map Patrol, distance markers, topographical relief and touring points of interest including 24-hour fuel, camping areas and caravan parks, facilities, services and more.
Also included is information on travelling in the desert, what you need for the trip and relevant contact information.
This is one we use all the time. It’s a little more expensive (it’s waterproofed and tear-proofed) at around $24.95.
Grab your copy from Hema here.
Hema Great Desert Tracks 4 Map Pack
Why not grab a copy of every one of Hema’s Great Desert Tracks series?
The Great Desert Map Pack gives you four iconic outback track maps in a soft and durable map wallet.
Each map is waterproof, tear proof and field-checked by the Hema Map Patrol to ensure the accuracy and detail necessary for desert travel.
Included in each map pack:
• Great Desert Tracks Central Sheet (RRP $24.95)
• Great Desert Tracks Eastern Sheet (RRP $24.95)
• Great Desert Tracks Western Sheet (RRP $24.95)
• Great Desert Tracks Simpson Desert (RRP $24.95)
• Map Wallet $14.95
Separately, these items would cost around $115.
Grab yours here (from Hema) for $99.
Hema 4WD App:
Of course, if you’d like to be able to get all of Hema’s 4WD maps (including the Oodnadatta Track) for your iPad or tablet and track where you are in real time -NO internet required- then this is the app for you.
- Offline maps (Internet not required)
- Designed for touring & 4×4
- Preloaded Hema maps
- Real-time GPS tracking*
- Drop waypoints
- Plan routes & record tracks
- Detailed navigation statistics
- Hema field-checked 4WD maps
- Australia-wide coverage
It’s $99.00 for Australia-wide maps with all those features and yes, this is what we use in our adventures (along with the Avenza maps app).
Get it from the iTunes store here.
Get it from the Google Play store here.
Before You Go:
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Can you take a caravan off roader ?
Yes, easily. On the Oodnadatta Track, we’ve seen 2WD vans.
I’m planing on traveling the oodnadatta track as well as visiting lake Eyre mid December.
I know it will be extremely hot is the track open this time of year?
Yes, the Oodnadatta Track is a main road, and it is open all year round, except after heavy rain. You can visit Lake Eyre during summer, but BE WARNED: this is the hottest part of Australia and likely to be very, very uncomfortable – especially if you’re coming from the Northern Hemishpere!
Hi Denvo. I was wondering, if you every took the ride in December? I am planning doing it, but I am worried about the heat.
We have driven the Oodnadatta Track a number of times in January whilst travelling home to Alice Springs as an alternative to the Stuart Highway. The most important things to remember is that it will be very hot, so camping is won’t be pleasant. However, the hot conditions mean that unless you have new tyres on your vehicle, you could risk getting punctures as the high temperatures cause tyres to swell and become very easy to puncture. Also, you must deflate them 20% from bitumen pressures. I would recommend staying in air conditioned accommodation at Maree, William Creek, Oodnadatta or Marla as well. Cheers Amanda
Australia is truly a massive place; so many tracks and places to explore!
Thank you for making this website. Very interesting. I need to look further to see if you talk about Margaret Siding Ruins. Sounds intriguing; I saw a picture of it on Google Earth, so I did a search on that (Margaret Siding Ruins) and it came up with your site. I am from Nebraska, USA, in the outback region known as the Sandhills, where there are probably about 100 times more cattle than people, and even the coyotes surely outnumber the people. Margaret Siding Ruins just reminds me of exploring old abandoned homestead sites that are interspersed among the pastures, as the old-timers die off, and more and more families have moved to the cities, and ranches have gotten bigger and there are fewer people and more absentee landlords.
Nach dem Besuch des kleinen “Flynn Museums” in Alice war der Oodnadatta Track für uns 2012 um so beeindruckender !
Wir werden ihn jetzt in umgekehrter Richtung erneut befahren, 4WD ist auf jeden Fall optimal.Die Wegweiser von Adam sind Spitze ! Welcher tragische Unglücksfall führte zu Adams Tod ?
Is fuel available all year round on the track and if so at what roadhouses and towns.
Are there caravan parks along the way with power and/or water and where are they.
This information is contained in the ‘Resources’ section of the article. The Oodnadatta Track is a big, public road and is open ALL year round as people live along it. Fuel is available all year round. Caravan parks -we’ve described where these are again in the resources section, are at Marree, Coward Springs, William Creek, Oodnadatta and Marla – again please read the article carefully – it’s all there.
Great guide Amanda. Be great if we could download a PDF of this, with a face book like or similar, like you allow on one of your other pages. Be good to have this on a tablet or similar while driving out of mobile range….
As the previous PDF share buttons we were using were proving very temperamental, I’ve disabled it on many of our posts. I have enabled another simple PDF/print option for you instead. They’re small green buttons at them bottom left of the article. Hope this helps,
Your such a wealth of knowledge! Thank you for your website it’s been extremely helpful in organising my trip to Uluru.
We are starting from Broken Hill and looking at heading to the Flinders Ranges and up the Oodnadatta track then on to Uluru.
How many days do you think is realistic for this kind of journey.
(4wd with camp trailer and kids under 10 onbourd. )
Hi Stacy, in driving time only it’s a half to three quarter day’s drive to the Flinders, a full day up the Oodnadatta Track and then another 3/4 day from Marla to Yulara. Keep in mind that all stops add to the journey time so within what time you have work it out along the way 😉
However try not to rush and just enjoy your trip!
Hope this helps,
Thanks for a great descriptive trip analysis. My partner & I intend to travel to Uluru in a couple of weeks time. He is from overseas and we have recently bought a 4 wheel drive. I am from SA but have not had opportunity to see much of our great land. We both want an interesting experience. He wants to get there in 2 days of straight driving. I hope your story will convince him to do it more leisurely. He was the one who found your site & asked me to read it so hopefully it will change his mind. It would be nice if we could catch up with you when we get to Alice or along the way. We are taking approx 10 days off to have our little adventure & and hope to have many more. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm.
Thanks for such a great write up very informative. Can you tell me what type of fuel is available? Is it only diesel or is petrol and gas available too?
Glad you found the guide useful. LPG fuel is only available at Marla (and many other roadhouses on the Stuart Highway) to our knowledge.
Do I need to reduce tyre pressure travelling this track through Painted Desert from Oodnadatta to Cadney Homestead? I’ve read your guide https://traveloutbackaustralia.com/outback-rangers-guide-tyre-pressures.html/, but I don’t know what type of road it is. Is it much worse than main Oodnadatta Track?
No, we’ve never had to reduce tyre pressures any more than when travelling on the Oodnadatta Track when cutting across through the Painted Desert. We always reduce our tyre pressures by about 20% when travelling on these roads. It’s a gravel road, gets washed out after rain, but then they seem to grade it pretty quickly. There are no dunes on it, just creek lines (small) and hills.
Thank you very much for your reply. Your guide helped us a lot when two weeks ago we took Oodnadatta track from Marree to Oodnadatta and then turned to the Painted Desert road. It was our first outback experience and I found it really exciting and unique. The road through the Painted Desert is in fact in better condition than the Oodnadatta Track itself (especially the last part before Oodnadatta, which was severely corrugated), and we managed to drive on it with the speed 80-90 km/h. I highly recommend the Painted Desert lookout on sunset, it was the most stunning part of our trip. Also you can camp in Arckaringa Homestead and enjoy its utter remoteness. Now I know what “in the middle of nowhere” really means :).
Hi I really enjoyed reading your article we are at Port Augusta heading to coober pedy we would really like to go to oonadatta from coober pedy then across to marla do you think the road is suitable for a 12 tonne bus/motorhome towing a car trailer ? Thanks
Hi, wow, I think only you guys can make that decision. The road has recently been impacted upon by rain and I don’t know if it has any damage as a result of this. You would be better off contacting the SA roads department and asking or failing that one of the stops along the way like William Creek or Oodnadatta itself. Sorry I can’t be of much help. Normally, I’d probably err on the side of a definite maybe as the road, yes, it’s more like an unsealed road these days, is in pretty good condition along the sections you are looking at. Hope this helps.
Great write up Amanda, thanks! Definitely adding to my list of must do’s in Oz… and before too long. Have always wanted to travel the track, your guide is excellent.
Great article. Can you please advise the typical drive times between the towns.
Obviously road conditions vary and determine this but in a well equipped 4×4 is it fair to assume we can average 80km/h + along most of the track?
I (Amanda) drove this solo a few weeks ago, and I averaged about 110km/h. However, I am an experienced off road driver, have driven the Oodnadatta Track many times and I wasn’t towing a trailer. I also slowed down to 60km/h whenever any other vehicles were coming towards me. On average, you would at least be able to to 80km/h. The biggest thing that will slow you down is stopping and seeing everything along the way. Take your time- it’s THE BEST outback track.
Thank you sooo much for the informative article.
I have a question if you don’t mind?
What is the road like between Oodnadatta and Coober Pedy. Also
how long would it take? Google earth states about 5 1/2 hours, is this correct?
We can’t wait to get amongst it in September.
5 1/2 hours to get from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta?? No it shouldn’t take anymore than 3 unless the road is really wet and you’re sliding all over the place! It’s a reasonably good gravel road that, when it hasn’t been raining, locals can do 110 km/h on. Wide, smooth gravel that anyone can drive with care.
Sorry I should have stated via the Kempe Rd.
We’re looking at doing the Oodnadatta Track on the way back from Uluru to Adelaide. Google maps is telling us from Marla to Marree (616kms) would take 27 hours? This doesn’t seem right to us. What are you thoughts?
Google is averaging a speed of about 30km/hr on these unsealed roads. It’s unrealistic and wrong. You should at least average about 80km/hr.
My family and another family will be traveling this track as a first time outback track.
We depart August 12.
Do you know if accommodation is readily available during the winter months?
I’m guessing this is a peak time for tourism as its the dryest and coolest time to go.
Is lake Eyre south ok to drive on, or will my car sink through a dry crust.
I’m pretty sure I’ve written the acccommodation options in this post, so I’d just advise you to get in touch with them and book as it will be busy. We were on the Oodnadatta Track on Friday-Saturday this week, and it was very with tourists.
You cannot drive on Lake Eyre at all. It’s against the law.
Hi kristian and emma
I drove from coober pedy to oodnadatta then south completing the track last week and found google maps to be advising similar distances
They are incorrect you can
average your driving times around 80 to 100klm an hour
for most part of the track
Some sections are badly corrogated but for the most part very good
If the track is wet then thats another ball game a few days previous to my trip on the track it was wet and horrendous i spoke to 1 couple who had just come of the track and said it was quite slippery and dangerous and i couldnt tell what colour their 4wd was due to the mud
It seems to dry out fairly quickly though
Enjoy the trip its a great track
We drove the Oodnadatta Track again on Friday and Saturday this week. There is currently ONE section only that I would even call remotely ‘poor’, between Oodnadatta and Algebuckina. We were able to travel at 110km/h on the southern sections, William Creek-Marree.
Thank you for the excellent resource!
I am hoping to take the family along the track from Coober Pedy to William Creek to Northern Flinders in early October of this year in a 2016 Subaru Forester as part of a trip north from Adelaide to Uluru and surrounds. This is following a recent work trip I did to the APY Lands, just had to get back up that way with the family, gorgeous country!
I apologise if it has been covered, but I have read some guides that recommend taking a second spare and sat phone (we also had these for our work trip). Just wondering what your view is on this (of course, I understand that safety is ultimately my responsibility).
I was thinking of buying a UHF radio so at least I would have some form of communication (I understand there are repeaters along the track).
I NEVER take a sat phone if I’m just travelling the Oodnadatta Track, even if I’m driving solo as -SHOCK HORROR- a female! Why? There are simply sooooo many vehicles on the Oodnadatta Track, I don’t consider it remote. The APY Lands (which I work in very often) are far and away more remote! Get a UHF instead – it will be very handy for listening for oncoming vehicles so you can slow down and get right over and avoid having your windscreen smashed. Unfortunately, both times I’ve driven the Oodnadatta Track this year, the track has been full of city tourists towing campertrailers WHO DO NOT SLOW DOWN. Grr#$%$!!! This aside, a UHF on the Oodnadatta Track will get your out of trouble (not that you will have any – it’s a high grade dirt road that you can do 110km/h in many places).
If you’re really, really worried (seriously I wouldn’t be… the Oodnadatta Track is a full-on tourist highway), hire a PLB.
However, I never, ever go anywhere without a second spare. Nowhere. A second spare is something I won’t leave Alice without.
Hope this helps,
Fantastic post, thank you :).
Just got a couple of questions regarding how much time you would allow to drive this trip, mainly considering the road conditions. Here’s where I’m at:
Dirt motorcycling from Wollongong to Uluru (which I have not been to as yet) and wanted to mix things up a bit by taking this track from Port Augusta through to the Flinders Ranges and then from Marree, all the way to Marla, Uluru, King’s Canyon, Macdonell Ranges and Alice. We will be camping most of the way though I don’t think we would mind the odd night at a roadhouse hehe.
The plan is to have about 3-5 bikes and a support vehicle of sorts carrying the gear, so we won’t be as top heavy as we would otherwise, which mean hopefully going a bit faster.
Now I’m not sure if you could speak for bikes, but how many days would you allow to get from Maree to Marla? I really don’t trust google on this one and was looking for some first-hand advice.
Thanks in advance, I’d appreciate it 🙂
I’ll get Gary to reply. He rides motor bikes. I run and hike!
This was such a great, informative read thanks so much! I am a 63yr young female Solo traveller towing a 16′ single axle caravan (not an off road van) and I am seriously contemplating taking this route fromUluru to Marla and on to Maree and the Flinders Ranges in early September, rather than go all the way down to Pt Augusta and then back up to Wilpena.
Reading this is giving me the belief and confidence that perhaps I can do this?? Would you agree (re the caravan) if I take it carefully ?
Amanda here. I’ve driven the Oodnadatta Track SOLO and camped solo on it, too. It’s a very easy drive in my books – a wide, well maintained gravel road.
I’ve never towed a van on it, but we have towed our off road camper trailer. My advice would be to take it easy and be aware that there are some corrugations.
It’s DEFINITELY worth it! Take your time and see everything you can – there’s so much to see. I love the Oodnadatta Track and do it at least twice every year,
Hi Amanda, great resource, thank you! I am planning to do the Oodnadatta track in July on my own. I have a fair amount of 4×4 experience and am fully self sufficient, and this iconic track has always been on my “bucket list”! Can you simply pull up at night, roll out the swag and spend the night wherever you want along the track? Or would that be dangerous / not allowed? Or are there designated free camping areas along the way? You have mentioned some options in your article, but I would prefer not to book ahead and just take it as it comes. I was also after some time frames for the various sections, I’m basing my schedule off Google map’s times but I know from experience that on dirt, the actual km’s mean nothing! Cheers.
We’ve always just pulled up and rolled out the swag, so no worries there. IGNORE any travel times given to you by Google regarding the Oodnadatta Track- they are wildly exaggerated and wrong!
I rode a motorbike on the Oodnadatta track from Marla to Flinders Ranges and travelled at 90 to 120km per hour. Lowered the tyre pressure to make the ride more comfortable.A truly great travel.
Note would highly recommend Dalhousie Sprigs as its also a great spot for a swim.
Hi, definitely one of the best outback ‘tracks’ to explore. Heaps of places to stop at, side trips to take and great bush camping. I’ve wandered along it several times now, but last time I stopped into as much as I could ( no time restrictions) went out to Peake ruins, slow track but worth the effort. Muloorina station and Lake Eyre, great campsite by waterhole, also Lake Eyre (Halligan Bay, camped), detour out to Painted Desert, stopped at lots of bridges and fettlers cottages, or just along the track for views and photos, the mound springs, had a soak at Coward Springs. Can not remember how long I took, maybe 6 or 7+days, but some days I made it less than 100km along the track! I travelled solo so just wandered along, as in 80kmh tops, quite often less, enjoying the outback expanses.
I know it’s not on the Oodnadatta but between Lyndhurst and Marree it’s worth stopping at the Ochre Pits and Farina excellent campsite and if your lucky the underground bakery is running.
I definitely agree with your comment of people not slowing down when passing, have about 6 chips in windscreen, the worst I find are the big 4×4 towing the huge duel axle caravans… I slow down to say 60 and move over they rip past staying in middle of road giving you a shower of stones, had a tennis ball size stone sail across bonnet and B/bar deflect a smaller one over roof… no basic outback road etiquette.
We are leaving to do the track in the Vic school hols with the 4 kidlets. We are taking an off road caravan (Expanda) with 4WD. We are looking very much forward to doing this adventure. We hail from sw Vic and have done a bit of 4WD in the Otways in various weathers, so looking forward to what we will see. Thanks for the article…..it has us very excited.
Going to do some looking on the web, but what would your opinion be on weather in early to mid July? Temp ranges?
July is winter, so you can expect very cold overnight temperatures, around 0-minus 2C but clear cool days between 16-20C. As we’ve had a VERY cold start to our winter this year, I’d take warm clothes and a spare blanket.
I want to travel to Coober Pedy then Oonadatta, Williams Creek,Borefield Road to Roxby Downs in a Nissan twin cab (not 4X4) pluss a 16ft van would you advise if road ok that it would be advisable to under take this trip. we are thinking of going 23 july 2017
thank you David
Sorry we’ve been flat out getting ready for a big trip. The roads are 4WD recommended, although we’ve seen high clearance 2WDs on those roads. The main question is whether your van is an off road model. If it’s not, then we wouldn’t suggest you take it. If there is any wet weather about, don’t even consider it as the roads will be impassable in a 2WD. The best advice we can give is for you to consider the information we’ve supplied carefully and make your own decision – cheers, Gary
What channel is used on the UHF Amanda? Thanks for all the info you have given others, I found it very helpful and look forward to doing the track in early November.
Hi Lee, glad we are able to help. It will be warming up in November no doubt so travel should not be rushed and tyre pressures should be dropped in the hot weather. The SA government gives a bit of advice on uhf channels to use. To prevent confusion and ensure satisfactory communications for everyone using this part of the radio band frequency, protocols are in place. Please familiarise yourself with UHF use prior to departure on a long outback adventure.
Travellers can use channels 9 to 30 and 39 for conversations as well as channels 49 to 70, but should be aware that anyone within range (line of sight) can hear your conversation.
Channels 5 and 35 are for emergency use only. Be aware that emergency channels are monitored by volunteers and may not always be available in outback regions (fines and imprisonment can apply for misuse).
Channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48 are repeater channels, and as such broadcast over a longer distance (up to 100km). These should only be used to seek assistance when required. Channel 40 is the road or ‘truckies’ channel. Channels 22 and 23 are for data only. Channels 31 to 38 and 71 to 78 are repeater inputs (do not use these channels for simplex transmissions as you will interfere with conversations on channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48). Just make sure you choose an unallocated channel for “chit chat” if you’re driving with others.
Thanks for such a great guide. My partner and I are headed up that way in either April or August. I have a Toyota Coaster motor home, would this cope with the track ok? I would love to do it. Cheers Mary-Anne
Is there an downloadable version of your oodnadatta guide? im leaving Sydney tomorrow for ayres, then south to port augusta.
I forgot to say ide like to do a swimming hole crawl, would appreciate any tips on where to cool off on the trip Aryes to port Augusta.
I would like to take my dog, is any of it national park, and how do you think the caravan parks would accept a dog, mind you she is a well mannered Kelpie.
The only part of the Oodnadatta Track that travels through a national park is at the south end, a section of Lake Eyre National Park. I don’t think you’d have any problem taking the dog through this on a public road, however.
As we do not travel with our dogs, we can’t advise on caravan parks’ policies about this. And really, on the Oodnadatta Track, there are so many places to free camp, I’m not sure why you’d want to stay in a caravan park unless you really had to.
Hi Amanda. Myself and partner are planning a trip along oodnadatta track mid April. I understand it is advisable to have a 4×4. Our travelling companions have one but we are hoping to drive our Mercedes-Benz van/motorhome. It sounds like the roads are in good condition so what is the risk of not having a 4×4. I presume wet weather would significantly change the road conditions. Is it usual to have wet weather mid April. Cheers Kathy
Is it possible to go with a motorhome? How can we check if the track is open? Is August a good time to go? And how long does it take to make the route from Oodnadatta to Marla?
I would also like to know if it’s worth going to Coober Pedy and then to Oodnadatta or if it’s better to start the track somewhere else (I would like to finish in Marla).
I’m sorry about so many questions, but I really would love to go and I have a lot of doubts.
Thank you very much.
My partner and i are doing a broome to melbourne adventure in the next few weeks and a friend told us not to pass up the oodnadatta track. we wanted to stop at coober pedy, so i was wondering….
is it worth our while going from marla to oodnadatta, to william creek then coober pedy?
and how long is it likely to take… google maps is saying it’s gonna be a loooong drive (like 23 hours worth!)
Thanks for you help
DO NOT BELIEVE GOOGLE MAPS!! When it comes to outback travel times, Google is so utterly wrong it’s laughable. We’ve driven the entire Oodnadatta Track and then 400km home to Alice in 12 hours – so their 23 hours estimate is misleading and wrong.
The Oodnadatta Track, however, is definitely worth doing – as is Coober Pedy. If you went Marla-William Creek-Coober Pedy, you’re still going to get a taste of the Oodnadatta Track and see some of the sights, however you’ll miss the mound springs, Strangways, Coward Springs and the Alberrie Sculptures. We’ve just come home via the Track on Monday and the top part from Marla to Oodnadatta is corrugated (but drivable with care), whilst the rest of the track is a big, smooth, gravel (dirt road) that’s easy to drive. Make sure you slow down when passing other vehicles to avoid broken windscreens. In all it’s our favourite track and we can’t recommend it enough.
How about driving the Track in a Subaru Forester” We plan to go mid-late September. Great, informative website.
generally speaking yes, you can drive the track in a Suby. We have seen plenty of people in normal cars. Obviously if it rains though I wouldn’t be considering it as the track can get pretty torn up. It’s all about driving to the conditions. Hope this helps. Cheers
Hi Amanda & Gary
I love your website, it has been super helpful in planning my Central Oz tour. I’ve downloaded the Red Centre Way guide book, and wondered how I can download this article on the Oodnadatta Track ?
Thanks and keep up the fantastic work !!
Unfortunately we don’t have a pdf guide yet…you can only copy the post I’m afraid. Cheers and thanks for your comments.
Me and my friend are planning to do the trip in mid December (I know. It is going to be very hot!). Would you recommend camping in tent during the trip?
No, we do NOT recommend camping in December on the Oodnadatta. Even we outback locals avoid camping through these months unless we really, really have no choice, cheers Amanda
Hi Amanda and Gary, great website guys, just wondering if we can actually take a 21foot semi off road caravan along the Oodnadatta track, I heard it might be to long for some of the creek crossing and or washouts, thanks once again guys, top stuff. Steven and sally and grace the dog.
We are travelling to Uluru from southern NSW via the Oodnadatta Track. I was wondering if anyone knows any good books to read before we go to learn a bit about the history so we get a better appreciation of what we are seeing? Thanks in advance!
I’m hoping to come over to Australia next July and drive the Oodnadatta Track, so this post is very helpful. I’ve also read your post about outback car hire and as I’m coming from England I will need to hire a car. I’m planning to fly into Adelaide and hire a car from there to drive to Coober Pedy and then the Oodnadatta Track. I note your article says I will need a 4WD, but some car hire companies won’t let you take 4WDs onto unsealed roads. Do you have any recommendations for car hire companies in Adelaide? Thanks.
Sorry, we can’t recommend car hire companies in Adelaide. Our expertise in Alice/Uluru. Some companies will allow you to drive a 4WD on specific roads and this varies from company to company, so my best advice is to shop around and ask each company about where you can and can’t drive.
I’d like to know if I will have problems travelling with my dog? I know national parks often forbid dogs but am wondering about the side trips off the track that you cover.
Hi Margaret, sorry must have missed this question. Generally, outside of National Parks, you can pretty well take your dog anywhere unless they have their own rules. You’ll just have to try and plan your travels around this and research where you’re going and if they allow you to travel with pets. Cheers Gary
Hi, thanks for this post and your whole website in general! Planning a trip from Gippsland Vic to Uluru then to Alice and back again so all your info is very useful! We are planning on doing Coober Pedy then straight up the HWY on our way up, then Oodnadatta on the way home. Just trying to plan our stops, I’ve seen all the comments about Google maps times being way off, can you provide a more accurate estimate? We will be in a 4WD with a camper trailer and 3 kids. So far I’ve been thinking: Marla to Oodnadatta, Oodnadatta to Williams Creek, Williams Creek to Maree. But if it only takes a couple of hours between these destinations we probably don’t need to stop so often! Thanks in advance!
Hi Rebekah, the track these days is much more maintained than the old days. In actual fact we have done the whole track without stopping other than for fuel in a day but you don’t want to do that! I would expect that with a camper you should be able to cruise along at least around the 80kmh mark and, maybe even a bit faster, so keeping that in mind you may do it quicker than you’ve been thinking. I guess it may depend if you’re willing or not to camp outside the communities along the way. As an idea for the whole track allow 7-9 hours travelling time. Hope this helps, Gary
You just had to write this, didn’t you?! Now I want to go back to Australia and drive this track again! LOL! BTW, I’m thinking those Jucy drivers didn’t pay attention to the terms and conditions on their hire. 😉
What a fabulous series of comments you have put together re the OT. Last night (May 9 2019) ABC TV in Sydney showed a lovely segment on Lake Eyre and the massive inflow of water from the huge basin and its inspired me to go. Looking for a site to guide me I found yours and was humbled to see how long you have sustained an interest in and commitment to passing on information about this iconic track. Thank you.
Loved reading your travelogue. Very informative and makes one want to head out straight away.! It is our first trip to this part of Australia and to see Lake Eyre with water in it is an added bonus.
Thank you for all your wonderful information.Happy travelling…
We are looking to travel the Oodnadatta Track from William Creek to Marla in late July with friends in 2 separate vehicles: both 4WD cars, one towing a camper trailer and one a standard caravan. Is the track suitable for the caravan?
Hi there, can I assume you are coming in from Coober Pedy before heading towards Marla? I’m afraid I really can’t answer your question. Only you will know where and what unsealed roads you can take your van on. What I can tell you is that by then it will be roughed up a bit with sections under corrugations. There has been a lot of traffic heading that way due to the Big Red Bash and there will be a lot coming that way after the Bash. It’s not a ground clearance thing but really a matter of whether or not your van can handle rough roads. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance. cheers Gary
Hello Gary and Amanda,
I’m planning a solo trip on a bike. Any thoughts and recommendations?
Hi Geoff, plenty of people are doing it these days. I assume you mean motor bike? Conditions vary from usually pretty reasonable up to just before the July school holidays and then can become quite rough and corrugated afterwards. As you would know it’s all about preparation, condition of your vehicle and how much gear you travel with. The Track gets plenty of other travellers so help is never far away if necessary. Marree, Coward Springs, William Creek and Oodnadatta now have Optus cover as well. There’s quite a lot to see along the way so you can rest your butt as required! Let us know if you have any specific questions. cheers Gary
Hi Gary, we are planing a trip of 2 1/2 month next October / November starting with a 2WD Camper BRITZ Venturer. I’m aware of the fact that driving from Marree to Coober Pedy via William Creek is on MY RISK. Reading all different comments and suggestions, the road nowadays isn’t a real problem as long as the weather conditions are fine. What weather can we expect in mid November? I think it is mostly dry, isn’t it? Coming from Arkaroola Village to Marree (stay over night), next day to William Creek and stay an other night before arriving Coober Pedy staying there for two nights before we go to Ayers Rock. What do you think?? Thank you in advance for your comment / suggestion.
What a terrific journey! I’m based in Melbourne but looking to go on a trip over to SA soon – the Oodnadatta track is definitely on my list now!