top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

William Creek 威廉溪 ウィリアムクリーク

Updated: Jan 14

William Creek is the smallest permanent settlement in Australia, with a population of anywhere between 3 to 10 depending on which reports you read.

William Creek, is located halfway on the Oodnadatta Track, 210 km (130 mi) north west of Marree and 166 km (103 mi) east of Coober Pedy in South Australia.

William Creek is on the traditional lands of the Arabana people. In May 2012, the Federal Court granted the Arabana people native title to more than 68,000 square kilometres in the region.

The name William Creek was given to the area in November 1859 by explorer John McDouall Stuart during his expeditions in the area. William was the second son of John Chambers, a pioneer pastoralist of South Australia and a strong ally of Stuart.

A small settlement arose in the late 1880s as a result of the railway. Although, work on the Great Northern railway (which we now know as The Ghan) commenced in the 1878 near Port Augusta, it took a decade for the line to reach William Creek, in June 1889. Work on the line continued, ultimately linking Port Augusta to Oodnadatta which became the northern railhead until the late 1920s. As large work parties flowed into the area, a boarding house was established there in 1886 and James Jagoe's Eating house is recorded to be there in October 1886. In 1890, Henry Lane received a 'wine license' for the site and assume Jagoe's business and facilities. In 1911, Gilbert Reed describes a whistle-stop on a train journey to Oodnadatta; he eats at Paige's boarding house -- the meal is goat, dressed up as mutton.

In 1896, William Creek became a repeater station on the Australian Overland Telegraph Line with William Charles Brennan (b. 1861-1918) as the first Station Master. It replaced nearby Strangways Springs which was decommissioned and reverted to pastoral lands.

Early tourists to the area were mesmerized by the vast expanses, the heat, the mound springs and the distances.

The town has always been small: never larger than a few cottages, a small school and a Hotel-store. The historic William Creek Hotel (circa 1935) is listed on the South Australian Heritage Register.

William Creek offers the only petrol station between Marree, Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta on the Oodnadatta Track and has a campground, two motels and one of the world's most remote pubs.

William Creek is the entry point from Coober Pedy to Lake Eyre in the Tirari Desert. Lake Eyre (Kati Thanda) is probably the largest and most pristine desert river systems found on the planet. Definitely much more than a glistening salt pan in the South Australian outback.

​The largely dried out lake is an unusual place that captures the imagination of many people, especially those of landscape and aerial photographers. The best way to see the stunning array of colours, textures and geographical patterns of this place with the colonies of pelicans in the waters below is from the air using a small plane. This is the place where I do my land portraits / aerial abstracts.

The rooms are basic and the food truly amazing. Staying in William Creek, gives me the opportunity to take advantage early morning scenic flights over the spectacular salt lake of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. The place does get extremely busy with roaring business because there are no competitors and outback trips are becoming quite a novelty. The best times to visit is probably during late autumn and winter where desert temperatures are mild. The heat during summer is scorching and there are many flies during the summer months (- yes the famous Australian bush flies that keeps sticking to people. The female bush fly pesters you because she wants your saliva, blood, mucus and tears; it’s how she gets her protein. She needs it to breed and it’s why she is so persistent and so in your face.)

People come here to take scenic flights to see Lake Eyre, the appearance of which changes during the seasons with the varying rainfall. I might do another blog post on Kati Thanda, and there's quite a lot of aerial abstracts on the gallery page, but here's a few anyway...

134 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page