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Curdimurka Siding, Oodnadatta Track

Home > Adelaide > Camping | Escape the City | Places of Interest | Trains | Travel
by Paula McManus (subscribe)
Photography obsessed writer and urban explorer. Lover of nature, art and long weekends. Adelaide, South Australia.
Published February 27th 2020
In the middle of nowhere
Curdimurka, located on the Oodnadatta Track is an abandoned railway siding on the old Ghan Railway Line. It is 104 kilometres from Marree, a few kilometres west of Lake Eyre and miles from anywhere.

Curdimurka (©paula mcmanus)

The siding dates back to 1886 and is the last station yard of significance that is still intact on the old Ghan line. Originally called the Great Northern Railway, the Ghan played a significant role in South Australia's history.

At Curdimurka the railway building, water tower, desalination plant, fettlers cottages and Stuart Creek Bridge are still standing and are in reasonable condition, given their age and the harshness of their location.

Curdimurka (©paula mcmanus)

Nearby Stuart Creek Bridge is the second-longest bridge on the former railway line at 433 metres. Built in 1877/1888 it is now on the Australian Heritage Database and the State Heritage Register.

The Bridge is on the Registers for its technical accomplishment and its historical significance. The last train passed through Curdimurka in 1980.

Stuart Creek is named after John McDouall Stuart the surveyor and explorer who was the first known European to reach the centre of Australia in 1860. Stuart's greatest achievement was the south to north crossing of the continent and back again in 1861-62. While on his expeditions, he found permanent water near Curdimurka which made future passage through the centre of Australia possible. A route through to the Northern Territory was discovered and the Overland Telegraph Line was built in 1872. The telegraph linked South Australia to the rest of the world.

Stuart Creek Bridge Curdimurka
Stuart Creek Bridge Curdimurka (©paula mcmanus)

Caroline Carleton, the author of the Song of Australia wrote a poem in Stuart's honour on his arrival back in Adelaide in 1862.

The first verse follows:

"Full many a weary league
Of hunger, thirst, and pain
Our brave explorer trod,
And traversed o'er again,
Before he reached the goal,
And cooled his burning brow,
And stayed his halting steps
Where the northern waters flow

Old Ghan line, Curdimurka (©paula mcmanus)

Curdimurka is in an incredibly remote area of the outback - it really is in the middle of nowhere. There are no houses, no phone service, no internet and very few trees. The only people you'll see are those who are passing through. Except - when the Curdimurka Outback Ball is held! The Ghan Preservation Society, who repair and restore the Curdimurka Siding came up with the idea of holding a bi-annual outback ball to finance the work. The first Curdimurka Outback Ball was held in 1986 and approximately 100 people attended. By the '90s, the numbers swelled to several thousand and it was a popular event for people to travel to. It's unclear whether the Ball is still held or not as the event is usually a 'word of mouth' invitation event.

Curdimurka (©paula mcmanus)

If you're travelling north on the Oodnadatta Track, Curdimurka is a top spot to get out of the car and stretch your legs. Overnight stays are allowed and there is no fee for parking your van. Note that there are no toilets, no water, no bins and not a lot of shade either. But, it's a fascinating spot to visit and get a glimpse of a time long gone and walk on the same path of those who are in our history books.

Curdimurka (©paula mcmanus)
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Why? Curdimurka siding is the last station yard of signifcance that is still intact on the old Ghan line. Originally called the Great Northern Railway, the Ghan played a significant role in South Australia's history.
Where: Oodnadatta Track, South Australia
Your Comment
Congratulations on another well deserved comp win Paula - well done!
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11306) 110 days ago
Congratulations winning first place.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12594) 110 days ago
As always Paula, lovely photies.
by May Cross (score: 3|6682) 125 days ago
I love places like this, where you can look into the distance at nothing, where the land stretches on forever and the enormity of the world is all around you.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7956) 113 days ago
What a remote spot Paula. I just love seeing, either in person or via photos, remnants of our past. In a way you are recording history. Neil.
by Neil Follett (score: 2|415) 127 days ago
The pictures are beautiful Paula especially the shots of the sky
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|1108) 125 days ago
Lovely to read your article. My husband and I have been to one of the Curdimurka Balls in the 1990's. I believe it was Army Reservists who came up to install a huge ballroom floor. We were all dressed up to the nines (well, maybe boots on with a ball dress!) had a sit down dinner and danced the night away. The best, was the memory of driving towards this massive campsite in the middle of nowhere, the year we went there would have been over a thousand present. The worst was the queue for the toilets! We took an English relative on that camping trip and she said afterwards that no one back home will believe that she had camped in the outback and gone to a ball. Thanks for bringing back a great memory for me, will have to search out my photos now!!
by AMT (score: 0|5) 125 days ago
Oh wotta night it was!!!! , getting `done up to the nines `by torchlight in a 2 man tent `and yes boots and a ball gown .
and what a sight it all was next day !!the best fun ever,a truly faboulous experience .
A moment never to forget.
by shira (score: 1|11) 122 days ago
Went twice back in the 90's whilst the days were incredibly hot and the flies to carry you away the night time concerts were fantastic. Always remember Patrick McMahon, (Neil Diamond "genre") great music under the stars and most guests dressed in their best evening wear, yeh a couple of nights to always be remembered
by royce (score: 1|10) 118 days ago
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