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Travel from Coober Pedy to Marla on the dirt roads

By Edited Jun 1, 2016 2 2

If you are feeling adventurous and want to get off the beaten track then why not take a few days and enjoy a relaxing drive into Australia’s outback. Of course you will need a 4 wheel drive vehicle and a reliable caravan or camper, that is if you want to stop and enjoy the sites and not just the road trip.

We did this trip with a Nissan 4 wheel drive with a 6.5 Chevy motor, and towed a 21ft Jayco caravan. Although we actually did the whole Oodnadatta trip a few years ago with an outback pop top caravan and were the only caravan on the trip everyone else had camper-vans.

 

This time the roads have been graded and every man and his dog was towing caravans of all descriptions. Which is great, but the first trip we did was more exciting I believe because you didn't know what would be around the next corner road wise. Humps and bumps were a plenty. Don't get me wrong the track still has its ups and downs and bends plus corrigated areas and many places had loose sand and rocky areas. But that is what 4 wheel driving is all about.

Planning your trips

People often ask how we plan our trips. We don't, not really. We have a saying; we just follow the bull bar on our vehicle, wherever that goes the caravan has to follow. Although having said that we are not stupid; we do not speed even on the bitumen as we want our vehicles to make the trip back home again. 

We often plan our trips by deciding to go North South East but not west or we would be swimming in the ocean. Then we head out on a highway and after speaking to other travelers telling us of great spots to see we often deviate in a different direction altogether. Spontaneous trips for us are more fun, you never know just where you will end up.

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Travelling on dirt roads can be an exciting experience

 


Outback roads

Before deciding to go on any dirt track roads make sure you check the weather reports.  If there has been any rain then Do Not Attempt driving on them.  You could be stranded out in the bush for weeks.

Coober Pedy to William Creek

There were not a lot of wild animals to see on this part of the trip, just a few cattle and one kangaroo and several birds.  There were a lot of creek beds with no water flowing luckily, or we would not have done that trip at all.  

Even a heavy downpour could trap you on these roads as the ground does not absorb the rain. Red dirt turns to mud and tends to run off more than soak into the ground. We took this section slowly stopping every now and then to let our dog (Titan) out for a walk, and took us about 3 hours.  

William Creek has a historic Hotel, and a couple of small areas where you can camp without power for the night for a small fee, hill billy type showers are provided if you do not have one.

The hotel is under new management and provides the travellers with great meals.  You can enjoy your normal steaks or like us you could try something different.  Our meal consisted of Buffalo steaks, Kangaroo, Emu and Goat.  Plus we had chips and salad and in small dishes they had olives, chutney and red cabbage.  We washed this all down with a couple of beers of course or you could have a bottle of wine.

One of its best features is the great memorabilia covering all the walls and ceiling. It has signed  T-shirts, caps and nic nacs. People have stuck paper money of all denominations and business cards, post cards from all over the world to make this a real creative collection.  And of course you can enjoy drinking quite a few beers while you peruse this collection while chatting to other travellers.

From William Creek you can drive out to Lake Eyre which is approximately 8Ok's each way or book flights from their airport to the see the various sites. At the moment the lake looks quite spectacular with plenty of water in it.

William Creek to Oodnadatta

 

This part of the track is more interesting.  There are more stations with stock loading pens where you can watch if there at roundup time. There are many creeks to cross and you will see the remains of the old Ghan Railway.  Some more creative people have used the old railway sleepers to form their names on the side of the railway slopes.

Eventually you will come to the Algebuckina Bridge, which was opened in 1892 and upgraded in 1926. This is the longest bridge in South Australia.   The old Ghan railway was responsible for transporting many thousands of our soldiers up to Alice Springs during the war.  

There is still water under this and I did see fish swimming around although I believe if you are keen it is better to fish on the right hand side of the road as there are bigger fish to catch.

Oodnadatta

 

 

 



Oodnadatta has another nice old pub, which is really worth checking out. Another interesting place is the Pink Roadhouse.  You could spend time perusing the different things to buy for gifts and you guessed it everything in the shop is virtually pink.  Even the mesh on the hats that come in handy to ward off the flies as the flies are friendly and not at all tasty.   Australia is well know for its friendly wave as we flick away the flies.

They have a museum and the aboriginal art is well worth a look.  Be sure to take a drive around the old streets you will be surprised what you might come across.

Oodnadatta to Marla on the dirt road

This part of the trip goes through station properties and crosses through many dry creek beds (depending on time of year).  The terrain goes through a few changes of shrubs to trees, you can always tell where the creek beds are because of the abundance of trees in a line across the landscape.

We saw a car in the distance and several eagles rose from the ground. When we reached that part there were six eagles all on the ground.  We stopped and tried to capture them with our camera all together eating a dead kangaroo, a few flew away although we still managed to get good photos of them.

Things to do before sstarting your trip

  • Let some air out of your tires before going on dirt roads and put back up when back on bitumen.
  • Make sure all windows are securely closed.  We thought we had but on the last day our van was full of red dust because we missed one of those front window catches. And believe me it gets into all the little cracks and crevices in a caravan.
  • Check that you take your step with you when locking van.  Have seen many left behind.
  • Check air vents are closed on roof.
  • Check all cupboards are securely locked as could break the drawers or catches.
  • Check all lights and indicators work.
  • Check fridge is not still lit on gas. Never travel with any gas turned on.
  • Check no rubbish is left behind. Take your rubbish with you. Leave area cleaner than when you arrived.
  • Pack your shovel and bury your unwanted sh.. and please do not leave used toilet paper to fly around.

More important even than the above is to make sure you learn something from this trip and enjoy selves in the process.

Planning your trip

People often ask how we plan our trips. We don't, not really. We have a saying; we just follow the bull bar on our vehicle, wherever that goes the caravan has to follow. Although having said that we are not stupid; we do not speed even on the bitumen as we want our vehicles to make the trip back home again.

We often plan our trips by deciding to go North South East but not west or we would be swimming in the ocean. Then we head out on a highway and after speaking to other travelers telling us of great spots to see we often deviate in a different direction altogether. Spontaneous trips for us are more fun, you never know just where you will end up.

Biking on the Oodnadatta Track

Coober Pedy to William Creek to Oodnadatta to Marla

Get Directions
Oodnadatta SA 5734, Australia
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Comments

Jan 18, 2013 11:24pm
Imprimatur
I like taking trips to little country towns, but I have never been anywhere that remote before. You have me intrigued though!
Jan 19, 2013 2:02am
eileen
It is great no matter where you go in Outback Australia a truly great experience too.

Beware of snakes and crocodiles and of course stay cool and take plenty of water in the summer
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