Written by Nicki G on 29 Nov, 2004
After travelling around the coast of Australia for eight months, it came time for me to explore the Outback. I arrived in Cairns and decided that, instead of a plane trip to Uluru, I would take this opportunity to cross the centre of Australia on…Read More
After travelling around the coast of Australia for eight months, it came time for me to explore the Outback. I arrived in Cairns and decided that, instead of a plane trip to Uluru, I would take this opportunity to cross the centre of Australia on land.
It was going take three days of travel on the Desert Venturer coach from Cairns to reach Alice Springs. Before leaving England to plan my year away, my perception of Australia was a barren, red dirt land with amazing wildlife and possibilities for adventures; however, up until this point, most of my experiences were of the urban cities and the exquisite coastline.
The pick-up from Cairns at the unrecognisable time (for backpackers) of 6:10am was a sign of things to come. Leaving the city, it wasn’t long before the rainforest of the area became our moving landscape. The trees shrouded the hills, while the clouds draped over some areas of the trees.
As we headed further and further into the trip, the landscape began to change from lush forest to sticklike trees and more open spaces. It was the beginning of the Australian Bush that I had begun to wonder if I would ever see. Even the soil was showing signs of the burnt red colour that fitted into my image of Australia.
On the coach, the main character was the driver himself. Claude, with his handlebar moustache and his huge beer belly, was a great source of information as well as entertainment. At the end of each of the three days, we had spent about 12 hours sitting, and so when activities such as ‘coach tenpin bowls’ were suggested, the bum became a little less numb.
The two nights were spent in very good accommodations, one being a cattle station with pet kangaroos hopping about. Waking up refreshed but still a little too early for me, we had a tire on the huge coach needing attention. Unsure if it was a joke on the part of the locals or a real flat tire, Claude pumped it up at the nearest gas station, and we headed off. After five delightful tunes from the mellow tone of Enya, we were rudely shaken conscious by the back tire being blown out!
Picture the scene -- in the middle of nowhere, on a road with virtually no traffic, a tire is blown halfway over the neighbouring fields, and we needed to jack up a coach with a jack that looked more at home with a toy car. Claude got on his satellite phone -- a slightly worrisome sight, as I’m usually all right in situations like this until I see the person in charge begin to worry. Needless to say, no international rescue mission was needed after all. With a little help from the assembled lads on the coach, the new tire was in place, and we were off again to explore the Outback!
The opportunities on this trip to view the real Australia were numerous. There were stunning sunrises and sunsets, the awesome selection of wildlife in its natural setting, and the simply stunning landscape that continued to wow me all thorough the three days of travel. What struck me most were the naturally occurring colours that either I just don’t notice at home or, quite simply, don’t have. The sky and the land produce the most wonderful display that makes Australia, for me, one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited.
Written by rodeime on 24 Aug, 2003
One of the most notable features of the Oodna' Track is that it follows the path of the old Ghan Railway, making the journey one of continual discovery as you explore the old rail sidings, ruins and townships that once thrived on the railway but…Read More
One of the most notable features of the Oodna' Track is that it follows the path of the old Ghan Railway, making the journey one of continual discovery as you explore the old rail sidings, ruins and townships that once thrived on the railway but now, if they're still there, depend mainly on you, the passer-through.
Work on the original Ghan Railway began in 1878, following the then-existing Overland Telegraph line. The plan, of course, was to build a railway to Darwin. In its first funding crunch, the railway stalled at Oodnadatta, and it wasn't until 1929 that the line to Alice Springs was completed--and there it stalled again until now.
The track also passes along the uppermost edge of the Woomera rocket range (prohibited area) and the lowermost border of the Lake Eyre National Park, the latter making an interesting diversion, especially on the rare occasions when the lake is filled.
Travelling north, the Track begins at the old railhead of Maree, which also marks the beginning of the Birdsville Track - but that's another story!
Once home to the famous Afghan cameleers, Maree bears all the hallmarks of a town that was. Formerly a bustling centre of outback commerce located at the crossroad of major overland trade routes, Maree has been reduced to a quaint outpost for passing travellers and cattle trucks. All around lays the evidence of past times.
Journey west along the wide, graded track and you pass the noteworthy points of Curdimurka Siding, Coward Springs, Blanches Cup (mound spring) and Beresford Bore, complete with adjacent rocket tracking emplacements, before lobbing at the smallest town in Australia - William Creek. Campers can overnight at Coward Springs, or if you hanker for a bed, hang on till William Creek.
Just like most every other hamlet along the Track, William Creek tells the familiar story of a railway town turned to zilch. 200km west of Maree, the famous pub is now its only current claim to fame. Sitting at the bar, you'd think every outback traveller that ever was had been here for a beer or two. And parked outside you're more likely to see several Cessnas than a string of road trains.
William Creek is also the popular and logical base camp for those wanting to spend more time exploring the vast expanses of the Lake Eyre region. You can even charter a joy flight from the bar.
The next 200km leg will take you to the namesake town of Oodnadatta, which served as a railhead from 1891 until 1929. With a population of just over 200, it is still a proper town with most services. You won't miss the Pink Roadhouse, which serves as a busy focal point for travellers, offering food, accommodation and advice. The town is the springboard for visitors to the Simpson Desert and Witjira National Park, and you can buy the required Parks Pass from the roadhouse.
The current Track finishes at Marla, another 200km further west, and out on the Stuart Highway proper, but die-hard enthusiasts can take the "old" track out to Granite Downs. This section is no longer maintained, so leave this part to the committed 4WDers. If your offroad bug is still itching, you can head north past the Simpson Desert, via Dalhousie and Mount Dare, to Alice Springs. Although it is possible to make Oodna' to Alice in one hectic day, campers can relax at Dalhousie Springs while bunkers can stretch out at Mount Dare.
Written by Koentje3000 on 09 Feb, 2006
Mataranka is a small town with 400 inhabitants, located right on the Stuart Highway, around 100km south of Katherine and 400km south of Darwin. 10km south of Mataranka, the unpaved Roper Highway heads eastwards to the Roper Bar petrol station and the aboriginal settlement of…Read More
Mataranka is a small town with 400 inhabitants, located right on the Stuart Highway, around 100km south of Katherine and 400km south of Darwin. 10km south of Mataranka, the unpaved Roper Highway heads eastwards to the Roper Bar petrol station and the aboriginal settlement of Ngukkur. The area of Mataranka is famous in Australia because it is the region that Jeannie Gunn describes in one of the most famous outback novels "We of the Never Never", a description of her life in Elsey Station near current Mataranka in the beginning of the 20th century. You can see a few sights in Mataranka referring to the book, like the graves of Mrs. Gunn and her husband, a statue of them and the Mataranka Homestead, a replica of the old Elsey Homestead.
Close to Mataranka is the Elsey National Park. This is a park with lots of tropical vegetation, centered around the Roper River. There are facilities like a camp ground and public toilets. The most famous place in the National Park is the Mataranka Thermal Pool, just next to Mataranka Homestead. The pool a nice place to bathe in the warm water although it looks more like a swimming pool than a natural one, with steps leading into the pool and loads of people inside. Just beyond the pool is a walking trail, first passing the Rainbow Spring with palm trees in the brown water. I didn't know that a rainbow was brown, but I heard that the colour of the spring changes throughout the year, so you might be more lucky then us!
The trail continues through nice rainforest along the river for 15km until the Mataranka Falls. The tour we did only stopped here for one hour, so we didn't have time to go to the falls. A pity! Tip: try to come here by yourself, so you can take as long as you want in the park.
Tennant Creek is considered a huge city in the Northern Territory outback. At least 3000 people live here. The town was settled as a telegraph station on the old Darwin-Adelaide line. After that, gold was found in the area and the town boomed. You can still visit…Read More
Tennant Creek is considered a huge city in the Northern Territory outback. At least 3000 people live here. The town was settled as a telegraph station on the old Darwin-Adelaide line. After that, gold was found in the area and the town boomed. You can still visit the the old stamp battery annex mine. In this place, rocks are turned into gold, or at least the gold particles are extracted from rocks excavated from the mine. Close
An obligatory stop on the Stuart Highway, connecting Adelaide to Darwin, is the tiny village of Daly Waters, population 20. It lies halfway between Tennant Creek and Katherine, both at around 300km, near the crossing of the Stuart Highway with the Carpentaria Highway going east…Read More
An obligatory stop on the Stuart Highway, connecting Adelaide to Darwin, is the tiny village of Daly Waters, population 20. It lies halfway between Tennant Creek and Katherine, both at around 300km, near the crossing of the Stuart Highway with the Carpentaria Highway going east towards Borroloola. The name comes from a fresh water spring nearby, used for supplying water to the area in earlier times, and a former governor of South Australia, Sir Dominick Daly. It used to be a telegraph repeater station on the north-south line from Darwin to Adelaide just as many other places in the outback.
The hamlet's claim to fame is the Daly Waters Pub annex Hotel. It is presumably the oldest one in the Australian Outback. It is a fun place, with strange memorabilia from all over the world, like money, beer bottles, souvenirs, clothing objects etc. all hanging on the walls. You can also add something from your own country.Another famous outback pub is located 500km more north, in the larger village (280 people) of Adelaide River. This village lies on the Stuart highway as well, only 100km from Darwin, near Litchfield N.P. The famous pub (again with accommodation) is conveniently called "Adelaide River Inn". The biggest crowd puller here is Charlie, the stuffed water buffalo, in his previous life a film star from "Crocodile Dundee".