"Marree" Marree by 1+1
Marree Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 8 photos
Maree is situated in the north east of South Australia at the junction of two major roads. Heading west is the Oodnadatta Track which leads out along the southern edge of Lake Eyre on to Oodnadatta and eventually Alice Springs [if you're heading that way]. Going northwards is the famous [perhaps "infamous" is a better word] Birdsville Track. It leads up the east side of Lake Eyre through the Tirari and Sturts Stony Deserts to Birdsville.
Marree is about 670 kms from Adelaide, the last 80 odd kms from Lyndhurst being gravel road. The first White explorer who came through the area was John Eyre, after whom Lake Eyre was named, in 1840.
Following this, in 1859, John McDouall Stuart and Joseph Albert Herrgott came upon the springs near Marree and named them Herrgott Springs. To the English speaker the additional "R" in the name was a difficulty and the name soon became Hergott Springs. Pastoralists moved in fairly quickly but were dogged by recurring droughts. The severe drought of 1863-65 was broken on 18 January 1866 by 250 mm of rain (10 ins) within 40 hours.
With the construction of the Overland Telegraph, linking Adelaide to London through Darwin and Java, the settlement also became a maintenance centre for that line. Additionally, by 1883 the railway arrived and a township was surveyed at the end of the line. This town was officially named Marree, apparently after the local Aboriginal name for possum. Unfortunately, in this desert terrain with few trees there were even fewer possums, and the local Aboriginal word for possum wasn't marree. In any event, the town retained the name Hergott Springs as far as the locals were concerned. That is until World War 1, when anti-German feelings saw it's official name re-adopted.
Being a transport hub, many Afghans moved in with their camels and radiated out from the rail head, carting goods to and from remote parts of the outback. These Afghans left their mark in the outback, as well as many descendants. The mosque pictured above is a reconstruction by locals in memory of the old days.
There was talk about the rail being extended to Queensland but this never eventuated. Instead it linked up to Alice Springs, before the golden age of railways came to an end. In the early 1980's the rail was moved 100's of kms to the west and the town declined.
An excellent map I would most highly recommend for this trip, and any other in outback South Australia, it the one titled "Outback : Central and South Australia" 1:1,500,000 put out by the Department of Environment and Land Management South Australia. Not only is it an excellent map (I've said that before!), but it is almost an encyclopedia on that area with advice and warnings. The front and back are both covered with (useful) text and images.
Visit the Arabunna Centre. They have a collection of local Aboriginal artefacts and a lot of information. The people are... more travel advice
Museum Park is an area in the town with some relics of Marree's bygone days. It gives an interesting insight into the... more travel advice
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