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 an unsealed road from Coober Pedy or via the unsealed Oodnadatta Track from Marree to Marla. 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).
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 terminus of the Great Northern Railway in 1890, and remained so until the line, which then became known as the Ghan, was extended to Alice Springs in 1929. In 1981 the line was moved to the west, and Oodnadatta became a service centre for surrounding pastoral properties, local Indigenous Australians and tourist traffic along the Oodnadatta Track.
Oodnadatta has also recorded the highest reliably measured maximum temperature in Australia: 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.
The Pink Roadhouse (so-called because it is painted bright pink) is a focal point for the town, providing petrol, a general store, meals, post office facilities and canoe hire. Although they really have canoes (also painted bright pink), it is not clear if there is anywhere to use them in the surrounding desert.
Oodnadatta is serviced twice weekly by the Coober Pedy Oodnadatta One Day Mail Run. The 4WD mail truck also carries some general freight and passengers.
There is a museum in the old Ghan railway station (ask at the Pink Roadhouse for instructions to obtain the key).