Questions re Oodnadatta Track

Planning a trip along the Oodnadatta trip in he October School Holidays and just after some advice.

The trip will consist of two vehicles a Nissan Patrol and a 95 series TD Prado towing an off road camper trailer. There will be four adults, three kids aged 10, 8 and 4, and a teenage girl who cant see the point of travelling more than an hour from a shopping centre.
The plan is to drive from Adelaide to Marree over two days, taking in various sights along the way.
We would spend two nights at Marree, taking a day trip out to Level Post Bay and back (3 hours drive?) on day three of the trip.
From Marree we would drive to Coward Springs (2.5 hour drive?) taking in Hermit Hill, Curdimurka and the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs. Camping at Coward Springs on day 4.
On day five we would drive from Coward Springs to William Creek and either leave the trailer before heading on a side jaunt to Halligan Bay and back to William Creek for the night (5.5 hours drive?). Alternately we would take the trailer to Halligan Bay and camp there for the night (3.5 hours drive?)
On day six we would drive to Algebuckina Waterhole detouring via Old Peake Telegraph station (5 hours drive from Halligan Bay, 3.5 hours from William Creek?)
From this point we are looking at four options.
Option 1 would see us driving from Algebuckina to Oodnadatta then Arkaringa on day 7 (3 hours driving?), Arkaringa to Woomera on day 8 (7 hours driving?) And back to Adelaide on day 9.
Option 2 would see us driving from Algebuckina to Oodnadatta then Marla and Coober Pedy on day 7 (7.5 hours drive), Coober Pedy to Woomera on day 8 (4 hours driving), and back to Adelaide on day nine.
Option 3 would see us drive from Algebuckina to Oodnadatta, Hamilton and Dalhousie springs via Pedirka on day 7 (5 hours?), Dalhousie to Mount Dare, Charlotte Waters, New Crown, Finke and the Lambert centre on day 8 (4 hours?), the Lambert Centre to Kulgera and then Coober Pedy on day 9 (6 hours?) and Coober Pedy to Adelaide on day 10.
Option 4 (if I can gain SWIMBO’s & SWIMBO jr’s blessing) would see the same route as option 3 on day 7 and 8, but would then drive to Chambers Pillar on day 9 (4.5 hours drive?), Chambers Pillar to Alice Springs on day 10 (2.5 hours drive?), Alice Springs to Coober Pedy on day 11 and Coober Pedy to Adelaide on day 12.

The times given above are estimated driving times, and extra time would be taken up with sightseeing etc on the way.

Do the above estimates of driving times seem about right?
When allowing time to stop and sight see on the way, am I trying too cram to much into too little time, or am I leaving too much time? (I expect to do several trips into the centre over the coming years so places like Alice Springs, Woomera and Coober Pedy can be visited on future trips)
Where are the best places to camp along that route?
When staying at places like William Creek do I need to book in advance or can I just turn up?
Where are the best places to buy diesel along this route?
This will be the first off road trip that I have undertaken with a trailer (though the trailer has done this trip before judging by the stickers put on by the previous owner), the first real trip I have done in the Prado, and my first trip into the outback (most of my experience has been in the Flinders Ranges, Brindabella Range or south coast of NSW in a 60 Series Landcruiser, so any other general advice would also be appreciated.


Graham Watson

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Reply By: Kiwi & "Mahindra" - Monday, Feb 25, 2008 at 23:24

Monday, Feb 25, 2008 at 23:24
Just had a wuick read cos I gotta go to bed, but dont camp at Lake ayre....its horrid! get in and get out really quick!!

We camped...heading south though....5 mile creek?? about 15 - 20 km south off pink road house....then from a tried memory I think we ended up camping at lyndhurst...there are lots of things to see, but there are only so many old houses that ones eye and mind can deal with!

Algebuckinna bridge is def worth the stop, so is a few others....when you a re getting close to our campin spot...under the bridge on your right, about 5km before that on your left is a bit of a hill...just before here is a clay and salt pan...dont go near it...already done a rescue out of that!!!!

Ood track - mt dare turn off is usually good, but can change - dont get me wrong!!...then on that part of the track heading to mt dare is a bitch! its slow and nasty!!!!!

dalhousie is nice but beware of the mozzies....

option 3 you will see a lot more country, but lambert centre takes almost an hr to get into because of the sand...even though its like 12km long! we spent 3 hrs all up...getting there...phtoso...then getting out!!! Its lots of driving though....espec for 10 days......then if something goes wrong the further you head up, the harder it is!

good luck...i really gotta go to bed!!


AnswerID: 289400

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 23:20

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 23:20
Is that you Laura !
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FollowupID: 554893

Reply By: RalfR - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 06:09

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 06:09
Have you considered the possibility of the heat during that time. I drove with wife and 2 kids (9 & 10) from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta (via Paitened Desert) and then back to Cadney Station in the first week of October las year. The heat was searing, to the point where the kids didn't want to get out the car. We get these days in Adelaide of course, but the kids were not interested, so we looked at stuff through the window. Just something to factor in. It was hot for the two weeks (high 30's and low 40's) we were away (Uluru, Alice etc).

In fact the highlight for the kids was sitting in the car drinking softdrinks while I attended to two rear punctures when driving through a creek bed (because I was stupid and didn't lower the pressures)(only carrying one spare)(had to leg it 6km into Pink Roadhouse)(very hot - not happy). We ended up having to spend about 4 hours at the pink roadhouse waiting for repairs, and forced us to have a look around the town which was very interesting. The historical museum is worth a look for anyone passing through.

AnswerID: 289415

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 08:48

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 08:48
Hi Graham, I was going to mention the tyre pressures to be lowered to about 26PSI as soon as you get onto rough roads like the Oodnadatta track, I also blew a tyre to pieces because I forgot to lower the pressures, it was a $250 mistake on a brand new tyre and plays on your mind when you know you only have one spare left and only 30ks north of Maree with a long way to go. All Terrain tyres (A/T) on both vehicles is really necessary, standard issue tyres out where you are going are not advisable. Also a good compressor that wont let you down.preferably one that doesnt plug in the cig lighter. Clips that go onto the vehicles battery is best. Not forgetting to cover your rear windows on your towing vehicles. Just some thick corrugated cardboard taped on with masking tape will do the trick. A broken rear window could set you back $600 to $800 depending on the Make and Model.. stones bounce off the trailer from the road wheels and back onto the back windows. Dont drive like crazy to get to your daily destinations, plan for moderate speeds and save your vehicle.. Enjoy your trip,, regards Michael
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AnswerID: 289424

Reply By: Smudger - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 09:28

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 09:28
Timing shouldn't be an issue. Besides, you're itinerary will probably become a work-in-progress once you get out there.
It's gonna be hot, and there are virtually no trees a the William Creek campgrounds, I'd suggest Coward Springs after Halligan Bay.

Maree didn't excite us as a spot to set up the CT. We got advice on the track to stay at Farina Ruins (26 kms north of Lyndhrst), a top spot to camp. Honour book for small camping fee. Free firewood, free hot shower, and a fascinating spot to spend a few hours, got some great photo's around the old town.

Stop and read all the Pink Signs, they might look a bit rough, but they have some realy good info on them - put up by the Oodnadatta progress group. They might entice you off the track to discover something you've never heard about.
Make sure you stop and have alook at the old Oodnadatta Railway Station, now a small museum, you have to enquire at the pub. We got lucky with a fantastic aboriginal guide who spent a good hour talking to us very candidly about the town's history and it's impact on his people.

At Coober Pedy we stayed at Rebas Campground, just out of town on the turnoff to Oonadatta. They have underground campsites that the kids will get a kick out of, a great camp kitchen setup, and an on-site mine tour.

We dragged an off-road CT and had to have a few things welded back on. The bloke at the William Creek Pub did a small welding job for us - didn't want to charge us, but I insisted. Generally The Oodnadatt Track is a reasonably well maintained gravel road. You shouldn't have any dramas.

AnswerID: 289428

Reply By: ferris - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:09

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:09
G'day Graham,

By the looks of your post, you've done a fair bit of research already. I've done this trip several times now......must be a sucker for punishment.

The Oodnadatta Track could be called a freeway. It is not hard driving unless you get off the road and find a bit of sand somewhere. BUT there are plenty of cooorrrruuuggggaaaations, depending on when they last graded the road.

Let your tyres down a fair bit. On our last trip 2 years ago, there were five vehicles in the convoy. We experimented with tyre pressures from 35 psi down to 18 psi, but each vehicle and each axle was different. We used tyre temperature as a guage.

Around Finke there is plenty of sand and you'll get stuck fairly quickly unless your tyres are soft. You also need to carry a good compresser because you should be varying tyre pressures according to the conditions.

Itineries. They are my personal hate, especially when on holidays. Could I suggest that you keep your itinery as a wish list of places to see and try not to keep to a schedule. You are not going to be able to see everything. so go as far as you can and then just high tail it home on the black stuff, when time has run out. Let this trip be a taste so you can return in future years to see what you missed this time.

Some of your suggested driving times will be very difficult to achieve.

Depending on your personal situation & SWMBO's opinion of camping in the bush, there a thousands of km's of open space to camp without being tied to getting to a caravan park by night fall. All depends on whether you can do without a shower and fixed toilet for a couple of days. A little bit of ingenuity can resolve those problems. You need to be self sufficient. especially with water. Carry heaps. Firewood is scarce in most places. Be wary of camping near Oodnadatta, Finke and similar places. You'll see why when you get there, but keep everything locked up.

Even though the days in October can be very hot, the nights can be freezing, you'll need to be prepared for both extremes.

Diesel is available everywhere, but gets expensive. Food and groceries are generally available, but you may not get your usual brand. Perishables like bread, meat and milk are all sold frozen.

If you are not mechanically minded, then top level RACV membership is good insurance. Anything more than the most minor repair is nightmarishly expensive, as is recovery of your family and your vehicle/trailer should things go wrong.

Get your trailer bearings and shackles checked before you go, they can be a real weak point. Also carry a spare wheel hub and bearing fully greased, and spare trailer spring and accessories if you have space.Check your trailer hubs and springs for wear daily. You should carry more than the one nominal spare tyre for your car and trailer. Your tyres should be in near new condition before heading off.

Last but not least, be prepared for dust and plenty of it.

Well I hope that helps a bit, and have a great holiday. I just wish I had the time to go back up there myself.

Keep the shiny side up.


AnswerID: 289437

Reply By: Member - John & Sally W (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:34

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:34
Hi Graham,
We have travelled "O" Track many times and prefer that way rather than Stuart Hwy. Pink Roadhouse have many info sheets on history and travel in this area, give them a buzz and try and get some before you go (mud maps are good too), or get trek info notes on this site. Lots of interesting stories about the railway sidings etc. A bit warm travelling at this time but when you are restricted to school hols time that's it. Fly nets a must. Fuel at Lyndhurst, Marree and Oodnadatta. Lots of interesting places to see. Ochre pits 5kms north Lyndhurst and Talc Alf. Farina ruins, Painted Desert, mound springs, Peake intersting. Don't drive close to lake edge and lower tyre pressures right down if you get bogged. Lots of places to camp along the way. Lower tyre pressures a bit and drive to the conditions. Some trips we have found the track like a highway and other times 2nd and 3rd gear travelling over some parts. Watch for creek dips. Pedirka Track slow and rough. Dalhousie good for a swim. Chambers Pillar great for sunrise and sunset photos. Woomera interesting. Another side trip could be Andamooka. Younger kids can find all sorts of treasures, different coloured gibbers and chert, galah and budgie feathers. Take some sketch pads and some crayons for creating masterpieces. It's a great part of the country. Have a great time and have fun. Don't go up that way if there is a threat of rain. Oh! Just watch out for snakes around Aglebuckina.
John and Sally.
AnswerID: 289441

Follow Up By: Member - John & Sally W (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:42

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:42
Hi Graham ,
As one of the posts above you might have to be a bit flexible with itinerary. Some spots may take longer to explore than others. Forgot to mention we towed Jayco Dove and Penguin and they survived!!!!
FollowupID: 554748

Reply By: mfewster - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:36

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 10:36
Strongly recommend a night at Farina. One of the best spots to stop on the trip. Coward Springs also a great overnight stop. Apologies if this is already your practice, but lots of drivers don't seem to understand that when you lower tyre pressures, you also have to drop speed to avoid excessive heat build up in the tyre.
I would avoid the Perdika route through to Dalhousie Springs Very rough and isolated. A great spot to demolish tyres. Go a bit further north and back to Dalhousie via Mt Dare. I also agree with the comments re mozzies up there. They can be about as bad as I have ever seen (apart from Yellow Water in Kakadu)
AnswerID: 289443

Reply By: Patrolman Pat - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 13:25

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 13:25
The Pink Roadhouse mud maps can be downloaded from their website and are very handy to carry. As others have said Farina and Coward Springs are top camping spots. One of my favourite camping spots along the track is Beresford siding, either near the dam or at the old building itself.
We found plenty of old sleepers for firewood but I guess they are a finite supply so bring along firewood just in case. It's a great trip and I'll probably doit again on the way to Uluru this July, beats the Stuart Hwy any day.
AnswerID: 289462

Reply By: Anthony (Vic) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 13:37

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 13:37
Hi Graham,

On your travel time estimates, in particular heading from Oodnattada towards Mt Dare etc, I think you will need to allow for more travel time.

For example, the Road Conditions section on this site says that you should allow 3.5hours to travel the 250kms from Mt Dare to Hamilton Station via Eringa.

Coward Springs, I only spent one night but could of stayed more, great spot. Also, loved William Creek, we didn't stay overnight by stopped for lunch in the pub.William Creek has some good people, even if the town only has a pop of about 7 people.

I would suggest you take you time and enjoy the trip.

Cheers Anthony
AnswerID: 289463

Reply By: patrolmann - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 15:01

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 15:01
I also made the mistake of not lowering my tyre pressure enough. I dropped mine to 30 but still blew a brand new bridgestone dessert dueller $269.00 Make sure you carry at least 2 spares per car on the track. Fuel is dear anywhere up that way. Make sure you have plenty of water as well. The drive out to the telegraph repeater station was rough when we went out there last august but worth a trip. Lots of flies and temps around low to mid 30s.

Hope you have a good trip, painted dessert is a must see.from oodnadatta to Cadney park. We camped on a working cattle station Arkaringa station. I think it was $7.00 a night and can use showers and toilets.
AnswerID: 289472

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 15:16

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 15:16
Coupla quick points - camping out at Halligan Bay (or anywhere on the fringe of the lake) has always been described as a real 'challenge' by anyone doing it - the slightest zephyr whips up dust and - with no shade and no wind breaks, it could be hell.
You'll get an appreciation of the lake edge when you pass very close to the lower section on the way up from Marree - when the water is there (and full is extrememly rare), its too hard to "experience" it from the shore anyway - its like a mud-fringed moonscape at best - flights are the only way, most say.
There is a pic of the Oodna road surface from a couple of years back on my site - road surface page - its maintained very well as a rule - the only upset would be rain.
That region is a favourite of ours, but "young shopping mall cruisers" might take some adjustment I guess :-o).
If you do go the longer run north, I'd recommend the Eringa, Abminga, Charlotte Waters and New Crown run from Hamilton - more interesting in our view. Despite the numbers of people you see in holiday times (some of them poorly prepared) it pays to have the usual bush spares, plenty of first aid options, lots of water and distance communications......... anything can happen where least expected and you may chance not seeing other people for quite awhile - Murphy does a lot of bush travel and he leaves the well prepared right alone !

AnswerID: 289473

Reply By: redfive - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 16:55

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 16:55
Hi Graham

Being up the track mmm 6 times i think being all over the place out there easyier to tell you over the phone so if you like ring me 0408635337 or email me i would be happy to help

AnswerID: 289493

Reply By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 17:20

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 17:20
Just a few pointers, just up the Birdsville Track to Clayton Bore. A good camp site and a chance for a hot spa. You can have privacy there and a quite dip in the dark, even skinny dip.

The coffee shop opposite the William Creek Hotel for a nice coffee and when we were there, great local cooked cakes too.

The Painted Desert is listed by The Australian newspaper as a place few people know of when they try to sell aerial photos of it. Great to camp for evening or morning photographs.The Painted Desert is West of Oodnadatta an hour or so. Interesting landscape along the way too.
AnswerID: 289497

Reply By: Rick (S.A.) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 18:07

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 18:07
I suggest you get a copy of the Westprint maps of the Oodnadatta Track, and Oodnadatta to Alice Springs - probably available for the EO shop here.

Lottsa highly quality info, interpretation, facts, spots to visit & camp at, etc.

Level post bay in 3 hours? - I suggest you ring Muloorina Station & ask, or ring Lyall at the Oasis cafe in Marree for their opinion.

My experience in the region says although your travel times between destinations may be roughly OK, the stop off's mean you will be going flat chat in any of the proposed agendas, so I suggest do less km in the same time frame, or 'find' more days for the same distance.

Given the age of your passengers, it's likely they are gunna be crapped off at too much time in the car, so let them out as much as possible - as the Westprint maps show, plenty of opportunities to do that. And if it's to be a foundation for future family holidays, do less km, not more, so their interest level is at optimum.

Enjoy - it could be hot & uncomfortable with heaps of flies, or it could be a very nice jaunt - that's our capricious Arid Lands !

AnswerID: 289509

Reply By: Steve63 - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 18:35

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 18:35
For a safe and restful trip don't count on getting anywhere on any day or at any particular time. It is nice to have an itinery but don't get fixated with it. They can cause you to take risks and in general do some ill advised things. I suspect it will be hot in October (it has been every time I have been up there at that time of year). You will need to allow for plenty of fluids particularly for thhe 4 year old. If yop are not fussed about amenities there is a camping spot on a station north of Maree (gold coin donation to RFDS) with flush toilets but no showers. It has a few reasonable sized trees. I'm having a mental blank about what it is called at present.Coward springs is a good plase to stop if it is hot.Dalhousie Springs can be packed. Not sure in October but the last time we intended to go there (May 2007) the previous night there were over 130 cars. Not my idea of a good time. As a varient on 3 and 4 you could go through Finke and up what used to be the Ghan track to Maryville Station and then to Chambers Pillar. There are any number of places to camp along the track. It is possible to drive from Lamberts to Chambers Pillar but it is a big drive. I would stop on the Old Ghan track some where. Have a good trip.

AnswerID: 289515

Reply By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 18:40

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 18:40
The Oodnadatta track is a good drive, you could all of it in a standard Commodore or Falcon, but look out if it rain ,,, the rules really change then.

Most of the roads are safe for 100 km/hr,, but if you sit on 90km/ hr, then you get to see a whole lot more.

We just set up where ever, and we do pamper ourselves occasionally, and go to a paid site.

Have stayed at Beresford Siding, just up from Coward Springs, ,,, Its free, and there is plenty of water there, from the old water softener plant.

But take your own Dunny !

We stayed 2 nights at Arkaringa Station,(an absolute must see ) and the Painted Desert. Gr8 setup there and an easy drive from Beresford, just turn left before Oodnadatta, go about 100 km, and there will be a big display sign..
They have showers, toilets, and a common lounge with a TV too, free wood for a campfire,,
Cheers to Richard & Gemma, Station Managers, gr8 for visitors ! and info..

I think Nathan & Laura ( AKA Kiwi and Mahindra ) have stayed at Lake Ayre, and were not too impressed, but loved Algbuckina ( spelling ) ..



AnswerID: 289516

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 23:14

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 23:14
ANother good spot is just south of Leigh Creek.

Turn and go under the railway bridge, go about 1.5 - 2 km in and cross the creek, it opens up there... Another freeby, but take all your own everything.

As far as fuel goes, we just toped up at every place we can. Its the safest way to do it.
Each place is about 200-300 km apart ( could be wrong there ) but if you keep topping, up you will not have a problem

Maree, has a couple of fuell stops, one is one the Track at the edge of town the other in just in town a bit ,, can't miss them !

William Creek is at the pub, Cant miss it !

AtOodnadatta "Pink Roadhouse", and grab some take away.

If you turn off the track to go to Dahlousie Springs, then take your time, as from Hamilton Station to Dalhousie the road is a bit rough.

Mt Dare is your next stop for fuel,, and it's unique,, but I do love the "new pub" there, expensive there , and at "Oodna", but you have to have it

Cheers, and enjoy it
FollowupID: 554891

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 20:23

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008 at 20:23
I would not go from Maree to Lake Eyre and back in the day.

Camping at Muloorina is very nice, better than Maree, you can have a bit of a wash in the river which is always nice when out in the bush. We camped at Muloorina and took a day trip out ot the lake and that was enough for the day. We then headed around to William Creek, where we had lunch before heading out to Halligans Bay. We camped there and it was one of the worst camping experiences of my life.

We had camped below the last dune to get protection from the southerly. It was nice just a gentle breeze curling around as we sat outside for tea and a chat before going to bed. About an hour later all hell broke loose. The wind went to the north and brought one of the heaviest rain storms I have lived through. The camper was jumping around, banging in the wind and the rain just fell from the sky. It lasted about 3 hours.

We fell back to sleep and woke early with the sun, stinking hot and not a cloud in the sky.

Would I do it again, oh yeah!

I only know your trip as far as William Creek but it sounds Ok to that point. Your travel times will vary depending on road conditions and the teenage girl (most unpredictable creature on earth).

AnswerID: 289535

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