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“Good fun”
Review of Oodnadatta Track

Oodnadatta Track
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
237 reviews
100 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 141 helpful votes
“Good fun”
Reviewed December 7, 2011

We only did a part of the track, from Marree to William Creek. At William Creek we took the track to Coober Pedy.

Due to the remains of the old railroad ro Alice Springs. There are lots of photo opportunities along the way. The are old buildings for the railroad and old telegraph buildings.

The track is easy to do (as descibed in the previous review). However I would advise caution at any time as the road can change significantly after rain. Make sure you inform yourself about the local road conditions wherever you start on this track. The locals will be a good source of information.

Although this was one of the easiest outback tracks we did it is adviseable to make sure your car is in good condition, you bring plenty of water / food and bring extra fuel. If something happens then you could have to wait for a while for someone to pass by you, especially if you get stuck on one of the side tracks.

It is a great way to experience the outback without too many challenges.

FYI the track to Coober Pedy is less interesting as the Oodnadatta track itself.

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7 Thank ChristofvdH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Canberra
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Notes about the Oodnadatta Track itself”
Reviewed September 24, 2011

Recently we travelled the Oodnadatta Track from Marree to Oodnadatta, then headed westwards via the Painted Desert to the Stuart Highway.

Our vehicle was a Skoda Scout, a medium-clearance softroader. It has a skid pan protecting the front half of the underneath, and this is a great thing to have. The rear half is not as well protected, owing mainly to the exhaust pipe, and the muffler now looks a bit worse for wear....

The Track was completely unknown to me, so I’d done a lot of research and learnt that it was mostly harmless when dry but likely impassable when wet. Nothing I could find said why this was so, nor did any of it describe the nature of the Track itself, what it was like to drive on. In fact, a lot of the inland area roads we used are very similar: around Broken Hill, Yunta to Martin’s Well, Marree to Oodnadatta, and the Mereenie Loop Road WSW of Alice Springs. These travel notes are relevant to all these roads. I hope they help you plan your trip along the Track — we really enjoyed it.

In general the terrain is quite flat, but not as flat as the Hay Plain. (Mind you, nothing is as flat as the Hay Plain.) It passes through low, rolling hills. We discovered that much of the Track had been graded not too long before we arrived, and it had few corrugations, ruts or jutting-up rocks. It's all gravel except for tiny sealed lengths in Marree, William Creek and Oodnadatta.

Every 5, 10, 15, 20 km the Track either dips or crosses a creek bed. In SA at least these are all clearly signposted, and none is difficult to cross. The creeks are deeper than the dips, and you do need to slow down for these. In July 2011 most creek crossings were dry and not particularly rough. One crossing did take me by surprise: from a distance it looked ordinary but when I got there it had an abrupt descent to a rough, stony bottom. The ABS and the skid pan really earned their keep here!

In general be prepared to find yourself going fast, slow, fast, slow, fast, slow. On the flat sections I was usually easily able to travel at a safe 100, with a few sections better taken at 80. Most dips are no problem. The creek crossings usually slowed me down to 30 or even 20. Overall it’s not a racetrack, so don’t treat it like one. If you find yourself running late, too bad. It’s not worth the risk of damage to your car to rush. Allow for this in your travel time estimates and it will go well for you.

It’s easy motoring. The landscape is broad and vast, sight distances are excellent and the Track is wide. A lot of it has 5 wheel tracks across, making it easy to pick a smooth path and to move over when meeting other vehicles. No-one (including us) was in any great hurry to get anywhere, and it was all quite relaxed. There’s lots and lots of dust, but thanks to low vehicle numbers it’s not a problem and no more of a hazard than any on other dusty road. Most of the time we were travelling in clean, clear air.

We did the trip from Marree via William Creek to Oodnadatta in one easy day, about 9 hours including plenty of photo stops. We were a bit surprised to find that there’s plenty to see and stop at, and we were kept interested and busy. It is a tourist road after all, and if you break down you shouldn’t have to wait for more than an hour or so (in winter anyway) for someone to come along.

This is also the real Outback. The Oodnadatta Track passes through the driest part of the Continent, and near to the lowest part. You'll learn a new scale of motoring out here, where a trip of 300km becomes a morning's junket rather than a major excursion.

If the Track is dry and the creeks are not flowing, a conventional car would have no trouble at all on any of these roads, even towing a caravan. I’ve coped with far worse roads in an ordinary Holden with ordinary suspension and an ordinary diff. If you are towing you should stay at 80 or so, but otherwise you’ll have no problems.

So, what’s the big deal when it rains? The soil has a high kaolin (clay) content, and when wet it becomes almost as slippery as wet lawn or even ice. It had rained about a fortnight before, and on several parts of the Track we could see tyre marks where vehicles had been slipping and sliding wildly all over the road, only just making it up even gentle slopes.

Further, as they are graded and graded over the years, dirt roads become long ditches in the ground. Because the soil in this area absorbs little water, after rain the roads soon become long lakes whose depth you can only guess at. Long lakes with slippery bottoms. Finally, run-off quickly fills the creeks making them impossible to cross, and they can stay that way for days.

When the big notice boards announce that the Track is closed, they’re not kidding! Take them seriously.

One more thing: on outback roads be careful of cattle grids. Approach them cautiously. All on the Oodnadatta Track were at the same level as the road surface and smooth to cross, but on the Martin’s Well to Blinman road there are a few which stick up quite high above the road surface. If you hit those at any speed, you’ll damage or burst a tyre.

Happy Motoring!

Visited July 2011
Helpful?
46 Thank ezlxq1949
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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