Bucket List

 

 

 

 

Exploring in the Outback

                                         Gold Coast to Oodnadatta - Words by Paul Redley images by Nicole Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

Driving in remote Outback Australia is in itself a test from the outset. The land that runs wild and free discovered by Aboriginal peoples and thousands of years later by men on camels in Colonial times. It lives and breaths to its own beat.

 

Preparing to take on the clay rocky based corrugated roads & tracks of the outback, is an entirely different process to packing up a car and heading interstate on the Bruce highway. Remote area travel can be deadly for the ill prepared traveller, UN wary of the lack of conveniences considered to be standard everywhere else. The fact is, out here you can be on your own for 500km stretch’s that seem to lead to nowhere. It’s the allure for adventurers to discover our heritage, and it’s a place for people to escape the normal society that strangles the coastline of the country.

For the people and characters that call the outback home, there willingness to learn to live here is by far the achievement of independence, many city folk may never understand.

The outback for many is a place often mentioned in passing comments of bygone era or the attempt to humor in discussions of distance travelled. The idea for some is created in the eyes of pastoral leases or significant mining efforts. While for others it’s the sight of plume clouds from the endless red dusty tracks called roads, or even triple trailered Semis approaching from the horizon.

The land see’s constant drought, a dryness of arid plains, the cracking of clay and soil as evidence, yet the odd event of meaningless rainfall that threatens to indulge the surface, can turn to a years rainfall in one short event. Cutting off the backbone of communities spread over vast area’s, the roads can be washed away, torn up into fresh sticky mud and deadly to an unsuspecting weary traveller. In some remote communities the graders that reclaim the roads may never come. There is no council truck fixing potholes out here.

Experiencing the outback just isn’t complete unless you visit iconic Pubs. Often the journey to get there is an exhausting one, pulling up for a cold beer and an oversized meal is always accompanied by the welcome of the publican and locals who call it their second home. The culture shared between white and indigenous folk out here seems far and away from the bickering of over populated cities. That’s life in the outback.

 

 

 

 

Ahead of the near 5,000km adventure, the planning for this trip was 12 months in the making. For our family, this was a first time attempt at solo travel into the unknown of the outback Desert region. Our primary goal was at first to discover the central Outback.

 

With the family seated around the dinner table after returning from a weekend camping, the crossing of the Simpson Desert was a topic of discussion. Soon after the laptop was on the table and the search for the Simo was at our fingertips. The initial excitement of even considering this proposition was now somewhat a dare on us to do it. That was quickly followed by the realization and the enormity of the journey to undertake.

 

It was right there at that moment, if we were going to do this, then we had to commit to it. There was never a second thought, all agreed and from that point on, the discussion was always about preparing for the Outback Desert trip.

 

When you start planning for the unknown, everything you can think of races through the mind. There are so many things to do, so many questions to ask, and sourcing of information. The other small problem of time and money was quickly abated by the fact that no matter what, this was going to happen.

 

Over the next 12 months we spoke to as many fellow 4WD travelers as we could. Weekends away at campsites were always a great opportunity to talk with strangers who had a common interest. Internet forums, magazines and DVDs all played a part in the planning.

 

In the meantime, vehicle preparation became priority number 1. With the many different terrains to be dealt with, there were no short cuts taken on mechanical matters. Even though our 100 series land cruiser is very well equipped to tackle just about anything you can throw at it, the fact is, cars are made with nuts & bolts. Even brand new stock vehicles will need attention. 

There is no roadside assistance waiting at your beck and call, there’s no phone coverage in most areas either. You have to think differently about a trip like this.

 

“You are on your own.”

 

The Land Cruiser had been set up for touring over a period of time and at the heart of it is the ever reliable 4.2ltr factory turbo diesel. With upgrades including aftermarket heavy-duty springs, lifted long travel shock absorbers and 33” mud terrain tires, 90 & 183ltr fuel tanks fitted, the Cruiser was good to go for the terrain at hand.

 

This alone though is not enough. I had my mechanic who specializes in 4WDs check over ever component of the vehicles drive train. Every single type of oil found in the belly of the old girl was replaced along with new filters. Fan belts, AC belts, coolant the lot, it was a major service and vehicle inspection all in one. Mechanically, the Cruiser was now A1. Do this a week or two before you hit the road, leaving time to iron out any potential issues.

 

When traveling with two kids, you have to keep them entertained. That doesn’t mean you have to bring every thing they own. Portable DVD players are excellent for in the car and when in camp. Seat organizers that hang off the back of the front seats give them space for other items too. Bring torch’s, iPods, reading material and an exercise book for recording their thoughts on the journey. Bring buckets of DVDs and there wont be any noise from the back seat.

 

Normally we travel with swags or the camper trailer, for this journey we invested in a new roof top tent and annex. After many months of reviewing what to take, many changes were made in order to fit everything in we needed for the 2 week trip.

“The journey of challenges, Risks and rewards is now here.”

With the ideal of traveling to the Outback, we set off at sparrows from Brisbane on Easter Friday and looked to put away as many km’s as possible. Our first target was to drive about 900kms from home. Heading west through Dalby, St George and Cunnamulla, we reflected on the changing landscape. Following a road that became narrower the further you went, seeing the white line in the middle of the road come to an end, the single lane black top surrounded by red colored soils and rockery was a high five for the adults in the front seats of the car.

Easter Friday and not a car on the road, clearly every other Queenslander was heading for the coast for a long weekend. Soon the black top would disappear closer to our first nights camping destination.

Arriving at the town of Eulo “The Montville of the outback” situated on the banks of the Paroo River, the day’s drive had come to an end. Eulo famous for the Eulo Queen and the hotel of the same name was our choice for a nights camping. You can camp down on the river with no facilities or for $10 per vehicle you can camp at the grounds behind the hotel with toilets and hot showers. Being Easter Friday, the pub was shut which was a bit of a bummer after a long day steering.

The campgrounds were good with grassy treed areas, plenty of space and surrounded by horse paddocks on 2 sides. The facilities were clean and well lit at night.

Next Stop Innamincka - South Australia

With the troops rallied at first light after a good nights sleep, a bite of breakfast and the traditional heart starter of coffee, our next mission to the South Australian border and on to the Innamincka Regional Reserve which was another 500kms away. The road is made up of sections of black top through to Thargomindah, while red sandy clay base and other sections riddled with corrugations present from there. “Drop tyre pressures to suit, lower your speed and drive to the conditions.” Driving past oil fields and gas plants in an area littered with wells of the same type, the remoteness of the small out posts seems a hell of a long way from anywhere.

About 67km before getting to town, take the detour to the Burke & Wills dig tree near Nappa Merrie. You can also camp in this area too.

The last 20km in to Innamincka along the Adventure Way development road is a different story. With the road now resembling an iron ore type of rockery, pull over and deflate your tires to around 26psi. We watched a few fellow travellers steam buy us at higher speeds on hard tires only to fall victim to the road a few kilometers down the track. Tires are literally littered everywhere on the sides of the road, and common sense needs to prevail. The true sense of outback driving was now here.

For the uninitiated, the Innamincka regions cultural history as the traditional home for several Aboriginal groups, the Burke & Wills ill-fated expedition and the home of the Australian Inland mission. The reserve is the traditional land of the Yandruwandha and Yawarrawarrka people. Within the reserve lie the Coongie lakes, Coongie ruins and the Kudriemitchie Outstation north of the Innamincka Township. There are dramatic landscapes, bird watching and camping on the lakeshore. If you’re heading north of Innamincka to Birdsville, take the Cordillo downs road to Australia’s largest shearing shed at Cordillo Downs.

On this trip we opted to drive straight to the iconic Innamincka hotel and enjoy a few well-earned beverages as the afternoon sun and the relentless nature of flies were now upon us. At this point in the journey, the kids were well and truly understanding that we were now far away from the normal life back home and the sense of remote adventure was now here. The hotel is more than inviting to a weary traveller, every thing you expect to see in an outback pub from the hard wood bar surrounded in corrugated tin, to the memorabilia on the walls, and clocks showing the time in different states.

The Pub it self is jam packed full of charm and character. From the moment you walk in the front door, it’s inviting, and to some degree, exactly what you would expect to find. The Pub offers meals in the front bar, or you can move to the new meals area around the back room. We chose to order in the bar to let the kids take in the whole experience. With a cold beer in hand and as the sun came down, travellers in the hotel seem to be united in the quest of there travel to this small town, with the yarn about who came from where, and where your going next. It’s a special place the outback, it brings people together, and opens up any barriers. Any city thoughts are well left behind.

 

We met some fellow travellers who had traversed north to Innamincka on the “old Strzelecki track” on motorbikes. The poor buggers were pretty fried by the time they got in town, but as soon as they pulled up, one of the locals offered them to camp in their back yard as the local was fond of travellers on bikes as he was an enthusiast himself. So off they went up the road to set up and head straight back to the pub for a beer. That’s just how things work here, people helping people out. After a couple of hours meeting lots of people from different states and walks of life, we said our good evenings and headed over to the town common about 800 meters from the hotel. The Cooper River is flanked by a large area suitable for camping and works on an honesty box system. At $5 per vehicle you cant go wrong. There was also a drop toilet at both ends of the allocated area that seemed to be about 1 km long. We pulled up in the dark and found a flat spot to set up camp for the night.

 

The next morning at first light, the site of the still cooper creek and birds squawking in the trees was our start to a new day. There were a few other campers around some with caravans, some with tents, but with plenty of space, it still felt like there was nobody around. Once the day started to warm up, so do the flies. I mean, a lot of flies. If you’re planning a trip out here, fly nets or masks are definitely the way to go. Those little buggers will drive you nuts if your not prepared.

 

The Innamincka Hotel

 

The Innamincka Hotel has long been regarded as treasured watering hole in a remote Australian outback settlement. It is a welcoming place to stop and take in the atmosphere, have a yarn with locals and fellow travellers.

Innamincka to Lyndhurst is 465kms
No Fuel available along the Strzelecki
This is no place for passenger cars
Typical outback rest area

The Strzelecki track from Innamincka is 467kms to the next town of Lyndhurst for our journey. The track was a route pioneered in 1870 by Harry Redford, a man who stole 1,000 cattle from around Longreach and drove them down to South Australia to sell. Harry was caught buy the authorities but was never convicted due to the jury who were so impressed by the magnitude of his journey. Harry might have bigger issues if he were around to do it today I guess.

 

It can be a bit mind boggling trying to choose the right route to get to the next destination. The Strzelecki has quite a few options to consider once you get the wheels rolling. Take a detour from Merty Merty to Cameron Corner where Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia meet, and visit the corner store. You could take an extra night camping in the Sturt National Park, or press on down along the Gas fields and turn off south to the multi award winning Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, located in the remote heart of the northern Flinders Rangers. There are also spots along the Strzelecki to stop for a break. Look, you can stop anywhere along this track. It is a wide road and there won’t be traffic. You will see the odd traveller but for the most part, the odd mining vehicle or semi trailer is about it. The track itself can get pretty corrugated and some sections of mild bull dust can appear.

 

We hit a large whole and to be honest, I was sure we were in a spot of bother with the front suspension, it just seemed like we were in the wrong place for such a hit. After pulling over and checking all the components, nothing was bent, but the car now had a fair pull to the right and was in need of a fresh wheel alignment.

 

That’s not the sort of thing you’re going to find out here, and it was a sure bet to scrub out a tyre or two. On closer inspection we found that the indicator lens next to the headlights had broken away from their mounts. It was nothing more that a bit of electrical tape could'nt fix to hold them back in place.

 

Nonetheless we had our first real test on the car. Strzelecki now had one on the board against us. We push on grateful to still be running and maybe a little more aware of the potential dangers that may be lying around the corner. “Mechanical Sympathy is everything out here.” Back on route the whole track will take about 6 hours with a couple of stops along the way. There are some 5 to 7 km sections that are bitumen, designed for overtaking. We used them to take a breath and rest a little before the road ended and dropped straight back onto the stony track. What a strange sight in the middle of nowhere we thought. Man has laid down sections of black top all the way out here?

The Strzelecki undoubtedly has claimed its fair share of tyres, shock absorbers, engine and body mounts over time, and in some cases, vehicles that were simply ill prepared. All the preparations you make to your 4WD, the expenses, the information gathering and so on, will make even the passengers understand the importance of such changes made to a 4WD for outback touring. Getting the nod from the minister of finances in the passenger seat for any future maintenance was acknowledged and agreed upon as standard from now on.

Reaching the end of this iconic track we finally reached a T intersection.  Turn left south towards the Flinders Rangers and on to Adelaide or as we did, turn right heading directly north into the small town of Lyndhurst.

Now the town of Lyndhurst does have a small caravan park that sits right on the edge of the main road, it’s fenced and predominantly just a red clay rocky base. Our destination was Farina about 20km’s north from here and so we pressed on. 

Farina Ruins

A short stretch of bitumen and the road once again returns to a rocky base filled with corrugations. As the afternoon sun slowly begins to lower the colors of the landscape appear to change to a much deeper red-brown color and soon after we pull into the Farina Ruins as planned on Farina Station. Surveyed in 1878, and named Farina, the rains didn’t fall and the town became the railhead of the pastoral country to the north. The famous Oodnadatta & Birdsville tracks saw their beginnings as drovers and cameleers worked north from the town. Farina was at the end of the narrow gauge track, the “Great Northern” or the “Port Augusta to Government Gums” railway line and became known as the “Ghan.” In the 1950’s a more so called modern standard gauge was laid as far north as Marree. The line is still evident today.

 

The Ruins at Farina can still be explored today; the hardship the town’s people must have dealt with in such a harsh environment really boggles the mind to be honest. You can also visit the cemetery and see the many people from different walks of life and culture that worked together to develop this area of the outback. Driving through the ruins into the station are the Bush campgrounds. No bookings are necessary here because there is heaps of grassy area to camp in. There are BBQ’s, showers, flushing toilets, and plenty of grassy and treed areas to choose from. You can bring your own firewood or buy some at the station. There is also shearers quarters available, you will need to bring in bedding and your own food, but can sleep up to 16. Pricing at the campground is $5 per person or the shearer’s quarters at $25 per person.

 

Buy now the late afternoon was well upon us; there was a fairly stiff breeze that was now pushing about 30knots. As we were camping with the roof top tent and annex, finding an area out of the wind proved to hard.

 After 45 minutes driving around the campgrounds we agreedthe now bitter wind was going to be a problem. The Rooftop would be fine however the annex is just pegged down and doesn’t have the ability to fit poles for extra strengthening.

 

With two upstairs in the tent and two downstairs in the annex, the family set up had presented a small problem. It’s not even something that we had considered when planning the trip.

 

  "The fact was, we got to camp to late"

 

The protected areas of the campground were all snapped up, the grey nomads and their caravans were now the envy of the rest of us. For the first time ever, those big vans were looking pretty good under the circumstances. Things were not looking good and after such a big day across the Strzelecki we were starting to feel pretty tired. For all the years of camping the family has done, one thing you have to look at when in this situation is what options you have. It was now freezing cold and bitter, a far cry from the previous night where it was balmy and even a tad uncomfortable. As tempting as it was to set up, the decision was made to change our plans and to push on north up to Marree about 60kms away. Yep, the best campsite we had seen in years was now a blow out. Back out on the road, lights ablaze, we headed to Marree. I wouldn’t recommend driving at dusk out here, but with the bull bar, Led Light bar and driving lights it was a comfortable run at a slightly reduced speed. 40 minutes later, and we made it into town. A quick check on the Hema and the Camps7 app, there were 2 options to camp, however again the wind was probably blowing 40 knots by now.

Farina Ruins 1
Farina Ruins 2
Marree Roadhouse
Donga style accom
Old Ghan Railway
Marree

In situations where the elements are against you, don’t get caught up with the whole “I must camp here no matter what” especially if it is just an overnighter. Setting up camp in un hospitable conditions when travelling with a family can turn to a miserable experience pretty quickly. That kind of defeats the purpose in my books.

We checked in for the night into a Donga style hotel on the main road at the roadhouse. For $100 everyone had a bed, toilet, hot shower and after heating up some leftovers out of the fridge, a good nights sleep.

Emilys Diary

“Day3 and everyone is getting used to the early starts, we drove from Innamincka to Marree. I slept all day and it was great. We were originally staying at Farina but it was too windy, then we arrived at Marree but it was windy and dark, so we stayed in a hotel. I had to share a single bed with my little brother, don’t know about him, but I had a great sleep”

As the sun rose the next morning with a hot coffee in hand and a map outlining the area for the day’s exploration in front of us, the initial plan was to drive up to Coward Springs. As we were now ahead of the schedule penciled in back home, new plans would need to be made. Coward Springs was only about 2 hours up the road and with no camp site to pack up, it was a given that the family was going to press on further up the road along the Oodnadatta track. In the end there was no spot marked on the map, more of a nomad thought process of lets just roll the dice and see where we end up.

Take a walk around Marree and check out the history that lies around the town. There is a bucket load of interesting things here. The kids will learn more about Australian History in Marree than they possibly ever will on a classroom chalkboard or Ipad.

 

Corey our youngest was fascinated with all the old machinery while Emily being a teenager, had a completely different perspective. There are plaques mounted all around the town, historical points of interest and outback history can be found everywhere in the towns railway center.

 

Unfortunately there were no beers to be had at the famous Marree hotel, which disturbed me to be honest. To come all this way out here and not visit a historical outback pub just didn’t feel right. None-the less, The Marree hotel will definitely be locked on to next time.

 

With the cruiser now topped up again with Diesel, we set off north – west along the infamous Oodnadatta track and the hundreds of kilometers of corrugations before us.

Not long out of Marree on the Oodnadatta track near the Old Ghan railway siding about 30km’s west is Alberrie Creek. The first thing to catch your eye is the vertical plains bolted upright from the ground and the keen observers in the back seat could see them a mile away. Can we stop here was the call from the kids. Now when the kids want to stop anywhere in the outback, take the opportunity to cash in, yep were talking brownie points for mums and dads.

 

We pulled off the road and drove straight in to the area named Mutonia Sculpture Park. Passing through the gate named Kombi Gate, which reminded me of the feats of the Leyland brothers a symbol to outback travels, a maze of architectural designs made from what could be called recycled outback waste.

 

It was interesting to learn that the park was created by Robin “Mutoid” Cook, from the Mutoid waste company. The story goes that after a Uranium mining protest in 1997, he came to Alberrie creek and has returned nearly every year since then in the winter to work on new forms of art. Named “Plane Hedge” The American made Beechcraft Baron light aircrafts came from Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne.

 

This was the start of the sculpture park and has helped put Alberrie creek back on the map along the tourist route of the Oodnadatta track. Some of the sculptures are made up from cars, airplanes, motorbikes, washing machines and anything that has been made redundant over time. It’s like a mish mash of bits and pieces all rolled in to artistic sculpture.

A fascinating Outback Sculpture Park

Walking around the park you will see remarkable pieces of art scattered around the arid landscape. What might seem out of place in the middle of nowhere actually breaks up the monotony of the relentless kilometers of corrugated outback driving.

 

We walked around for what seemed like an hour before once again taking our positions in the comfort of the Landcruiser. Pulling out from Alberrie Creek back on the Oodnadatta track, there were more sightings of Robin Cook’s creations. The Spinning car was like something out of an amusement park somewhere closer to home.

 

 

At this point it became apparent the kids were now becoming more in tune with our Outback adventure. Although not part of the itinerary we had scheduled, it proved once again to allow for the unexpected when travelling, Alberrie Creek and its Sculpture Park provided just that. When you think about all the technology provided to the kids of today, the simple yet historic and important pieces of history in Australia are often over shadowed by a screen of information in our ipad’s and laptop computers. Travelling with kids from an educational point is more about the touch, feel, smell and seeing with your own eyes, it’s education that in our opinion is worth more than what can be achieved any other way.

 

If your travelling with kids in this region of the country, Alberrie creek is a must.

Ghan Hover-bus
Alberie Creek
“Plane Hedge” The American made Beec
Wind Mill
Sculpture
Hover Bus

William Creek

Heading north along the Oodnadatta track is South Australia’s smallest town “William Creek” located 165km’s from the nearest neighboring town of Coober Pedy. It’s the halfway point along the rugged track.

 

First settled in 1887 and originally a support station for camel drivers building the Overland Telegraph, the town is in the center of Australia’s largest cattle station, Anna Creek station (23,000 square km’s) The support station became a hotel in 1943 and still is today.

 

William creek also has a campground with facilities right across the road from the iconic pub. Boasting the best Espresso coffee in the outback, a restaurant, cold local and imported beers, the William Creeks town meeting Centre is a great option for an overnight indulgence of the outback.

 

It is the hub of Wrightsair Commercial Aircraft Charter and scenic flights to Lake Eyre. With Lake Eyre being the 3rd largest salt lake in the world, and it’s lowest point below sea level at (-15mtrs)

 

In peak season, William creek will see up to 500 travellers a day, and in the wet season it might be lucky to see 5 people a day.

 

With out doubt, the front bar at William creek is a spectacle in itself. With years of souvenirs left by travellers from everywhere, the pub oozes with the charm and character of a historic outback pub.

 

Stop for a night here, book yourself into the restaurant and enjoy some outback tucker, you won’t be disappointed.

The Ghan Railway

This enormous bridge built at the Algebuckina Waterhole demonstrates the engineering necessary to construct a railway in an area, which can flood in huge volumes.

 

In living memory to those in the outback, the Algebuckina Waterhole has never dried up. It’s the largest waterhole in a river system that supports the survival of stock and the ever abundance of wildlife. Some of the western river system will flow to lake Eyre North but will generally not have the vastness of volumes to ever fill Lake Eyre. Normally the northern system of rivers such as Cooper Creek and the Georgina Diamantina River are known for this.

 

You could easily drive past this monument of the outback as it’s off the main track. The Railway appears across the horizon as your heading north and requires a short venture across virgin land following a small-unmarked track to the base of the structure. If towing a van or trailer there is a flat area about 200mtrs walk to the base of the bridge if your not so keen on tackling a couple of off camber ridges along the path.

The bridge itself is no longer in use and has some varying forms of decay where railway sleepers lay.

 

The Steel construction however, still holds and impressive form and on closer inspection shows the construction methods used from a bygone era.

 

At the base of the bridge, there is a short steep climb up to the track where a railway cart still stands. As you walk along the iron tracks, a fenced area has been constructed for safety and for obvious reasons to stop people from venturing across the structure.

The Oodnadatta Track

The Oodnadatta track is a vast and lengthy road of Outback exploring for the keen traveller.

 

Located along the track are the Ruins from life abandoned. A reminder of what great feats were achieved in building these dwellings at a time of horse and cart transport.

When the Railway was built back in 1890, there were explorers willing to build a life in this newfound opportunity of land, that to many seemed impossible. Sheering stations, cattle stations and the ideal that the land could somehow be worthy of the effort to achieve some sort of existence.

Some of the Ruins have seen there day while others still stand tall to this very day.

 

Stop in and have a look at all the Ruins and show the family our Australian Heritage.

Oodnadatta

The Pink Roadhouse

The pink roadhouse is not just a place to top up with fuel, it’s the lifeblood of the localcommunity.

Pink is not a colour one expects to see in the city let alone a Roadhouse in South Australia’s central outback region, but this iconic landmark is the thriving hub in the small town of Oodnadatta in the remote outback. The historic Ghan Railway town boasts a large Aboriginal population in a free holds low crime area. Oodnadatta, like most South Australian Outback communities, has no local council. It relies on the community to maintain and service itself and tourism.

 

 The Roadhouse is not just a place to top up with fuel; it’s the lifeblood of the small community.

 

 For the locals and tourists, it provides Petrol and Diesel, a mechanical repair workshop, Post office, café, supermarket, takeaway food, bar and a campground behind the main building.

 

“The gateway to Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, Mt Dare & Marree”

 

As we rolled into Oodnadatta after hundreds of kilometers of corrugations, the Pink Roadhouse was a welcome site for sore eyes, and a source of bewilderment for the kids in the back seat. They had seen pictures of the roadhouse in our research and planning back home, but like most things out here, when you see it for yourself, the charm and character again shines through.

 

Originally not an overnight stop on our itinerary mainly due to indifferent feed back on outback forums, we were charmed by the friendly people of Oodnadatta and booked into the camping grounds behind the main street. Another option is, If you agree to leave no rubbish or cut trees, “wild” bush camping is ok in the town common if you’re not really interested in having facilities, but for us, hot showers were in order at the campgrounds.

So what’s the story behind the Pink?

Lynnie & Adam Plate originally from Canberra, came to Oodnadatta in 1975 as a stopover as they walked the railway lines from Alice Springs with horses, Donkey and camels. They fell in love with the place and stayed.

 

Originally the Roadhouse was an accommodation block back then. Lynnie & Adam started a shop called the “Tucker box” in a back street but soon realized travellers would not turn off the main street. So they relocated there and that’s where the roadhouse began.

 

Adam came up with a marketing idea to paint the Roadhouse pink; the idea came from a concrete company in Sydney who had pink concrete trucks.

 

They wanted to create a place where local Aboriginal community, station people and traveling tourists could relax and share their stories and travels. So they created the big room at the front of the roadhouse so anyone could sit down, have a meal and share stories.

 

Adam also maintained the Aerodrome for aircraft access into the remote outback town, and worked unpaid for 20 years as the caretaker.

 

In 2012, Adam passed away in a car accident and in 2013, Lynnie decided it was time to sell up and move to Adelaide.

 

When sold, the outback came together and celebrated the Plates farewell and as a legacy the airstrip was named after Adam. In 2013, new owners Adriana & Neville now operate the Roadhouse.

The Oodnadatta Caravan Park is situated behind the Pink Roadhouse and is accessible from the main street. The campgrounds have showers, toilets and a camp kitchen, along with optional powered sites. If your travelling with a tent, bring a ground sheet as the grounds have no grass to set up on. The ground is also very hard so bring a few extra heavy-duty steel pegs, or you’ll be bending them like Beckam.

 

The facilities are basic, but clean hot showers and toilets were considered a luxury after a 500 km drive along the Oodnadatta track. As the sun came down the park quickly filled up with an array of campervans & trailers, with a few tents and a couple of roof top tents like the one we used. There is also a communal fire pit, which is of good size and is sure to keep them toes warm.

 

As camp was set up and the temperature dropping, we decided after such a long day that cooking wasn’t something we really wanted to do so the Mrs. took the kids back over to the Roadhouse and ordered up some outback tucker. 

Camping

 

Tonight’s feed, the “Oodnaburger”                 

Norring down on this burger with the lot should fill just about any belly. One thing about the outback, serving sizes are plentiful, you’re not going hungry with the Oodnaburger in hand either. They’re a cracking burger in our books!

Part 2

4WD Travel - The Outback Crossing the Simpson Desert

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