Curdimurka Siding, Oodnadatta Track

Curdimurka Siding, Oodnadatta Track


Posted 2020-02-28 by Paula McManusfollow
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.

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.

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.

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%%."

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.

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.

219356 - 2023-06-16 07:51:15


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