Oodnadatta seemed tidy, with upgraded housing but was suffering from lack of tourists. I figured it was mainly due to the track conditions. It was extremely corrugated from Coober Pedy (Kempe Road) and the Oodnadatta Track was even worse to William Creek.
William Creek seemed busier than Sydney Airport with the flight activity over "the lake" which had received significant inflows of water from Cyclone Trevor. Busload after busload of pax were arriving to check another destination off their bucket list.
When we got to Marree, it looked like a transformed town since I last visited 20 years ago. It appeared like an obvious tourist mecca, and it seemed to have undergone a significant refresh. If you didn't know better, you would be expecting a train to arrive on the platform to take your somewhere.
As we traveled further south I realised that the new 100 km/h blacktop (Marree to Lyndhurst) was the reason for Marree's transformation.
Will the blacktop ever extend to William Creek and Oodnadatta? If it does, I can easily see more tourists flocking to the area. Perhaps Oodnadatta could then match Marree in tourist amenities. I feel that this would also improve SA's tourism prospects which have been struggling in recent years.
There were many grey nomads heading north that had to find their way to the Stuart Highway to avoid damage to their caravans from the track conditions. The only grader I saw during the trip was in the Lake Eyre National Park itself working every day.
I also want to mention that the area between Allandale - Mount Dutton - Algebuckina bridge is breath taking especially when you see it travelling towards the south. What a journey it would have been on the old Ghan!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1OE7KejJTs [someone else's footage]
I know I am a dreamer, but if a tourist railway of the quality of GSR operated from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, it would be heavily patronised given the packed tourist buses traversing the area to William Creek.