Oodnadatta Track

We left Coober Pedy and drove through the Dog Fence. This is supposed to be the longest fence in the world. It stretches for 5600 kilometers from the Great Australian Bight in South Australia to the Darling Downs in S.E. Qld. It originally started as a vermin proof fence in the early 1900’s to stop rabbits getting into farmland. It didn’t work for this purpose but was found to work for Dingos or wild dogs. South of the dog fence is sheep country and north is cattle country. Dingos will attack sheep but not cows. We were now in Cattle country and going further into the desert and hoped to see a Dingo.dog fence signdog fence

dog fence 2
The dog fence was never “rabbit proof”
dog fence
It goes for miles with grids and gates to get through

emu fence

The dog fence may be good for farmers but not so for wildlife. These emus and many others we saw all along this fence are trying to find a way to get through.

Prohibited area sign
The sign didn’t say you can’t stop and look for birds.
rufous field wren
Rufous Field Wren- a new bird
bleak road
The road was a bit corrogated 
grey water dust
The wet gray hose got a bit furry 

old car

 

We then turned onto the Oodnadatta Track famous for following the path of the old Ghan railway. It is also where the Great Artesian Basin, one of the world’s largest aquifers bursts to the surface in many places into springs attracting wildlife and birds. We would not be seeing the springs section of this track this time as we are headed to Dalhousie Springs on the edge of the Simpson desert to “take the waters” of the Great Artesian Basin. A new destination for us.

oodnadatta track signanna creek sign

pink tanks
Not sure who’s idea the pink tanks were on Anna creek station but they sure stood out.

Aboriginal people showed explorers this route as it was an ancient trade route for them and the only safe way through this desert country with no permanent water. Little did they know this land would be turned into cattle farms and their springs turned into cattle watering points!

flipped caravan
You usually see flipped cars on the side of the road out here. This looks like a caravan but it was actually a trailer full of motorbikes where fuel bottles exploded. The vehicle pulling it managed to escape but with only a little damage.
oodnadatta track cattle
The road goes through the middle of the paddock. The cows just stand there and wait until just before you hit them to get off! Even honking your horn does nothing! You practically have to nudge them off with your bull bar. Sweet stupid looking faces on them!
william creek hotel
Lunch at the William Creek Hotel. It doesn’t look like much but it is an oasis out here. It is now owned by Trevor (who owns the whole town) who runs the local airline, Wrights Air. This airline takes people on flights over lake Eyre. Trevor is the only one who lives here and everyone else just comes in to help in the season. Town is a pub, caravan park, petrol pumps and airport. Population under 20 at the moment and mostly pilots as there is water in lake Eyre from the floods up north! First time in 9 yrs.
william creek hotel bar
William Creek Hotel
william creek sign
We are only 2090 kms from home!
william creek hotal bull
Every outback pub needs a water buffalo! This one wouldn’t survive here.
aboriginal art william creek hotel
Trevor has brought the standards up on this outback watering hole. Nice Aboriginal art on the walls. They were not for sale but I would love to have taken this one home.
artestian water tap
Artesian water is full of minerals
anna creek
An old sign in William Creek. Only one of the old Kidman empire’s holdings was Anna Creek Station. It is the largest cattle station in the world (2.36 million hectares) which you drive through on the track. Gina Rinehart (with Chinese partners) tried to buy this when the Kidman’s were selling it in 2016. You can see the Iron on the surface in the black gibbers everywhere. Anna Creek ended up being sold to the Williams Cattle Company, who own a number of stations near by for somewhere in the $16-20million price tag!
sidney kidman empire
Kidman was one of Australian’s most successful pastoralist’s. He bought always with strategy in mind and the knowledge that water will always be a problem out here. He made sure to buy a property that was above the Great Artesian Basin for reliable water, even if you had to dig deep to get it. Also important was the ability for clear movement of stock.
gorgeous gibber oodnadatta
Gibber “pavement” . I loved the colours of these. Just a little grout and you have a nice floor!
gibber plains oodnadatta track
A quick break on the dusty road on gibber plains
duff creek siding 2
Duff Creek old Ghan railway siding. Not much left
a once lovely sign sand blasted
We drove thorough this station. This once nice sign has been sand blasted over the years. There are very few individual farms these days. Most are owned by companies with many holdings. This company bought Anna Creek station for $16-20 million.
gyroopter
gyrocopter used for cattle mustering Nilpinna station
loading cattle onto a road train oodnadatta track
Loading mustered cattle onto road trains on Nilpinna station

algebuckina bridge sign

It is mostly dry out here but when it rains it dumps and takes out everything in it’s path which is why the old Ghan rail needed to be moved. It was never a good idea to build it here. The rail line was always out with sand covering the tracks or water destroying the bridges. A very silly decision made last century. The aboriginals must have watched this being built and scratched their heads knowing the outcome! The local station owners must have known it wouldn’t work either.

 

Riverbed mud algebrakina
Dried mud in the creek bed
Steve opens the gate onto the PAR
Steve  opening a farm gate for us to find our free waterhole camp site on this property
roo tougue
Thirsty roos drinking from a cattle trough
joey t drikig trough
The joey wants some too!
30 km to W
Steve decided it was 30 km to the toilet but it was actually to William Creek
lgebuki wterhole
The first water hole we had seen with water in it for many weeks.
algebuckina bridge 1892
Old last century bridge still going strong. A very big bridge waiting for a very big rain which comes less and less out here.
flies like black
The flies just kept getting worse! Steve took this photo of my back but I think he had even more on him!
lgebuki wterhole 2
Algebuckina waterhole camp. This waterhole has never dried up totally in living memory. Amazing for out here.  Must be spring fed we were thinking. A nice place to camp and we were amazed how nice it was to camp next to water again.
algebuckina swimming spot
The dry creek bed at Algebuckina and the old railway bridge where we swam the last time we were here in  Jan 2010
road conditions sign
It’s is impossible to drive on wet roads out here as everything turns to a thick mud. These signs are good but not always accurate. Rain can be very regional so good to know what is happening hundreds of kms from you.
adam plate sign
There are hand written and informative signs all along the Oodnadatta track written by Adam Plate from the pink road house. Many of these are now hard to read. He also made a very informative “mud map” brochure that we used 10yrs ago and this time too. Unfortunately Adam died a few years ago in a road accident. His son also died in a road accident. We are often hearing about people that have died on the road out here. Very common. The roads are bad and everyone drives very fast.
oodnadatta sign
Don’t know if it is the hottest. Winton in Western Australia also claims this. It was only 38 this day.
filling up at the pink roadhouse
Filling up at the pink roadhouse
adam plate memorial
A memorial to Adam Plate in front of the Pink Road house done in the same fashion as his famous signs all along the route. He fixed a tyre for us on the last trip.

Birds were very hard to see out here and when we did they were always the same ones. Steve tried very hard to find something new. The Orange Chat was the only new bird on this track.

orange chat
Orange Chat. Not such a good photo but the only new bird on this track so pretty exciting seeing it!
angle pole memorial with adam plate sign
A memorial to the overland telegraph builders. These angle poles were what the original telegraph poles looked like.
pedirka ruins
Perdirka Ruins old Ghan siding in the middle of nowhere.
black kites
Black kites
woodswallow
Wood swallows were everywhere.
kites with white plumed honeyeater
More Kites
Richards Pipit 3
Richard’s Pipit were the most commonly seen bird along with wrens
mt sarah station sign
Another Williams cattle co station. We free camped on this one on Fogarty’s clay pan just off the road on the way through.

 

foggertys claypan camp
Fogarty’s clay pan camp on Mt Sarah Station camp. A beautiful spot with nobody for miles and a full moon lighting up the clay pan below us at night.
oodnadatta movie theatre
Oodnadatta movie theatre
oodnadatta council chambers
The colourful council chambers. Oodnadatta is predominantly an aboriginal town and an old Ghan railway town. The old railway building is now a museum.

 

2 thoughts on “Oodnadatta Track

  1. Great photos as usual. Very flat!
    Don’t like the sound of those deaths on the road. Drive carefully and don’t bring any of those flies back with you.
    XX

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    1. Hi Helen, Let me tell you, we are the slowest on the road. Everyone passes us and I don’t care. It is also the best way to see birds. I drive and Steve gets ready to jump out. We are now in Alice Springs and there are no flies. we cant believe it. We cooked and ate dinner outside and enjoyed every minute! M

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