Some like it hot: and then there’s Oodnadatta

On the Oodnadatta Track. 

This morning, as Sydney puffs its way through a heat wave, breakfast TV did a cross to Oodnadatta. The tiny town in northern South Australia is experiencing a run of above 45C degrees, topping out at 48C on Saturday – that’s 118.4 Fahrenheit  for all you imperialists out there.

A few years ago, I travelled to Oodnadatta to do a newspaper story about the pubs along the track (which the subs creatively titled Aussie Crawl).

Our editors sent us there in January. The photographer, Randy Larcombe, and I pulled in to sleepy Marree for water and, lured by the espresso machine on the counter, a coffee.

“Where are you from?” asked the woman at the counter.

When we told her we’d just come up from Adelaide, her face turned purple. “You’re bloody Aussies! You know better than to come out here in the middle of summer!” We blamed it on our Sydney editors. She bought it. We shouldn’t have bought the coffee. It was dreadful.

PS: a big hello to the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta, a welcome pit stop and burger mecca in the desert founded by Lynnie and her husband Adam Plate. We were terribly sorry to hear of Adam’s death last year. He told me how he and Lynnie, fresh from art school in Darlinghurst, were walking camels and donkeys through the desert in the 70s before stopping at Oodnadatta. They put the town and the track on the map, and on breakfast TV. 

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

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