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Oodnadatta to Marla

The final stage of the Oodnadatta Track


Oodnadatta to Marla is probably your last day on the Oodnadatta Track. I hope, you enjoyed this famous track as much as I did. It is a great Outback travel experience.
But before we are going on the track again, we'll have a close look around Oodnadatta.

Oodnadatta

This is another tiny settlement on the track with the same name, located about 1000 km north of Adelaide. The town has a population of about 270, and offers basic facilities.

The name Oodnadatta is perhaps an adaption of an Aboriginal word meaning "blossom of the mulga".

Oodnadatta is the last stop for travellers before heading for the Simpson Desert, Dalhousie Springs, and other beautiful places in the region.

historic sign

I really enjoyed following the old ghan heritage trail and learn about the fascinating history of the Australian Outback. So watch out for these informative signs from Port Augusta to Alice Springs, throughout the Flinders Ranges, and of course along the Oodnadatta Track.

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European History

Oodnadatta was proclaimed a government town in 1890. The town's heydays were merely more than 35 years, while it was the terminus of the Great Northern Railway from 1891 until 1929. Like Marree, it played an important role in opening up Australia's harsh inland.

Oodnadatta hospital was the first AIM (Australian Inland Mission) nursing home, opened in 1912. Rev. John Flynn had the vision to cover the Australian inland with a "mantle of safety". He established several bush hospitals across the country, and finally founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Points of Interest in Oodnadatta

  • The Pink Roadhouse has cult status in the region, and with travellers. For nearly 40 years it was run by Adam and Lynne Plate. The Plates were the best source of information about the Oodnadatta Track and the adjoining areas.
    The late Adam Plate placed heaps of funny and very informative mud maps along the track and the surrounding areas.

    In September 2013, a little more than a year after her husband was killed in a car accident, Lynnie Plate handed over the Pink Roadhouse to the new owners Neville and Adriana Jacob.

    The roadhouse continues to offer everything a traveller needs in this remote area, a caravan & camping park included. And it sure continues to be pink!
  • The historic railway station is one of the most imposing and enduring buildings in town, together with the goods shed it is on the State Heritage Register. The railway museum is located in the building.
  • Local Aborigines run the Transcontinental Hotel, the Railway museum, and the general store. There's not much more than one main street, so you won't miss the places of interest.

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Oodnadatta to Marla

The third and last section of the Oodnadatta Track leaves the route of the Ghan so there are no railway sidings or other historical stuff along the way to Marla.

Angle Pole Memorial is just a few km outside of Oodnadatta and marks the point where the Old Telegraph Line and the old Ghan line turn straight to the north. The memorial commemorates all those involved in the building of the Overland Telegraph Line between Adelaide and Darwin.

The topography along the track is fairly flat, occasional tree-lined creek beds make a change in the scenery.

If you are lucky and travel in spring after some good winter rain. you can see carpets of wildflowers. Otherwise there is just more gibber.

Even if there is no more history to explore as on the first sections of the Oodnadatta track, it is a great experience to travel here.

Marla

This is a tiny town with a population of 243. Near Marla the Oodnadatta Track meets the Stuart Highway, 1099 km north of Adelaide. Marla was established in 1980 to service the increasing traffic along the highway as it was planned to tar the entire road from Adelaide to Darwin. It offers a huge roadhouse, a motel, caravan park and other essential services for travellers.

I hope you enjoyed the last stage of the track from Oodnadatta to Marla. Wherever you go from here, enjoy the South Australian Outback.

Alternative routes & detours

If you are in a hurry you can take several short cuts to the Stuart highway from the Oodnadatta Track.

  • William Creek to Coober Pedy - 165 km
    This is a remote and lonely track that passes by Anna Creek homestead and leads through the Woomera Prohibited Area. It is a public road, but you have to keep on the track. No permit is required for this route.
  • Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy - 195 km
    Another lonely track that has not much to offer but sheer Outback and remoteness. For the last 20 km before you arrive Coober Pedy you'll travel across the moon plain. It is a lunar-like landscape of rocky plains, an experience you hardly can imagine until you really see it.
    The moon plain was the set for quite a few Aussie movies like Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and others.
  • Oodnadatta to Cadney Park - 161 km
    This is definitely the most rewarding and interesting route with a stunning scenery across the Painted Desert. This section is worth to be described on a separate page.

Quick Facts Oodnadatta

Population: 277 (2006 census)
Location: Approx. 680 km north of Adelaide on the Oodnadatta Track
State: South Australia
Post Code: 5734
Elevation: 118m
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (CST), Daylight Saving between October and April
Climate & Best time to visit:
Oodnadatta has a hot & dry desert climate, the highest temperature recorded in Australia was 50,7°C in Oodna on 2nd January 1960
April to October is the best time to visit.
Facilities include:
Hotel, Cabins, Caravan Park,
Petrol Station, Supermarket,
Health Service, Police Station
historic railway station
Railway station in Oodnadatta
pink roadhouse
The famous pink roadhouse
health service sign
Oodnadatta clinic
sturts desert pea
Sturt's desert pea

Follow my journeys along the Oodnadatta Track

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