Oodnadatta, South Australia is located in the heart of the desert 112 m above sea level, 1,011 km north of Adelaide. It can be reached by a track from Coober Pedy or via the Oodnadatta Track from Marree to Marla. The name is derived from Arrernte utnadata, meaning “mulga blossom”.
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. Oodnadatta became the end of the railway line from the south in 1890, until the railway was extended to Alice Springs completed in 1928. Since the closure of The Ghan railway line in 1981 (it moved to a new alignment further west), Oodnadatta has become a quiet settlement inhabited mainly by the local Indigenous Australians.
The population was 229 in 1976 and 160 in 1986.
Oodnadatta has also recorded the highest reliably measured maximum temperature in Australia of 50.7°C (123.3 F) on 2 January 1960. A higher temperature was recorded at Cloncurry in 1889, however this has since been shown to have been recorded in a non-standard enclosure and likely to have been considerably cooler than first believed.