in the Australian state of South Australia, is a small town surrounded by an area of 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 sq mi) with cattle stations in arid pastoral rangelands close to the Simpson Desert, 1,011 km (628 mi) north of Adelaide and 112 m above sea level. It can be reached by an unsealed road from Coober Pedy or via the unsealed Oodnadatta Track from Marree to Marla or from the north via Finke, Northern Territory ("Old Ghan Heritage Trail"). The name is derived from Arrernte utnadata, meaning "mulga blossom".
The population was 229 in 1976 and 160 in 1986. The 2006 census reported a population of 277 (150 male, 127 female, including 103 indigenous Australians)...
The Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta
John McDouall Stuart explored the region in 1859. The route mapped by Stuart in his journeys of 1857 to 1862 was adopted as part of the Overland Telegraph Line route. There was no township at Oodnadatta in those days. It was called the Yellow Waterhole, or Angle Pole, and later was known as Hookey's Waterhole..
Oodnadatta became the terminus of the Great Northern Railway in 1890, and remained so until the line, was extended to Alice Springs in 1929. The line became known as the Central Australian Railway and the train service on the line was known as the Ghan in honour of the Afghan cameleers. The railway was built with narrow gauge (1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)) tracks; train traffic was frequently disrupted by washouts and other damage to the trackbed leading to a slow and unreliable service. The Algebuckina Bridge is nearby. The railway through Oodnadatta was closed in 1981; a new standard gauge line was built to the west bypassing Oodnadatta.
Oodnadatta's busiest era was World War II when Australian Army and Air Force set up local facilities to service troop trains and fighter aircraft en route to Darwin. Following the closure of the railway line in 1981, Oodnadatta, formerly a government service centre and supply depot for surrounding pastoral properties, became a residential freehold town for Indigenous Australians who, moving from cattle work, bought empty houses as railway workers left. Increasing tourist traffic along the Oodnadatta Track and an emerging mining industry keep the village alive. The Aboriginal school is the biggest employer..
Life in Oodnadatta
Oodnadatta Track sign