The William Creek Hotel


It’s halfway along the Oodnadatta track, the smallest town in Outback Australia, but William Creek is pretty comfortable with that. The place has a good dose of history, as any galah could tell you. Pet-friendly, too… in fact, Pig the dog’s in charge of the pub. And no-one here seems too hung up on the broadband rollout: there are other ways to stay in touch, like a quiet yarn at the front bar. So far from anywhere, really, but known across the land as the jump-off point for one of the most unique destinations in Australia.

Not long ago, we showed you these spectacular pictures taken as we flew above Lake Eyre in full flood. Well, water continues to flow, in a rare and breathtaking display of the dramatic cycles played out in the ancient heart of the continent.

The floods have brought not only flocks of birdlife, but tourists to tiny William Creek, which is experiencing something of a flood of its own, as people converge from all over Australia to witness the spectacle – it’s a once or twice in a lifetime event.

And of course, they all stop off here. The hotel’s famous for its memorabilia-studded front bar. Everything from money to marriage proposals gets left here, in a kind of reverse-souvenir arrangement.

Ask publican Bruce Ross what brought him to this remote spot, and the answer’s rather dry…his trusty Toyota. But he says flood or drought; he and his partner Mim never get the chance to get bored.

Briony: How many people come through on an average week?

Bruce: Well during the peak season, could be 5, 6, 7 hundred people a day. During the quiet period, 5, 6 people – although that’s very rare.

Briony: I tell you there aren’t that many places where you can have so much fun just staring at the walls. But wait, there’s more. The dinner here: legendary. Especially for an outback hotel 200 kilometres from anywhere, so I’m going into the dining room to give it a red hot try. Dinner lives up to all expectations, they’re not joking when they advise you book ahead here. And warmed by a cosy fire and a sip of wine or two, it’s time to head back to the front bar to hear some of the stories of our fellow travellers.

What are we doing in William Creek? We’re part of an overland expedition from Western Australia, we have 11 Suzuki’s with 19 people, little Suzuki’s Sierra’s and we’re doing a trek from the most Western point of Australia to the most eastern point which is Dep Point to Byron Bay, and it’s a fundraiser for Variety, so we happen to be pulled up at William Creek tonight.

William Creek – wonderful. Wonderful, lake Eyre nearby and I think most of the traveller, travel through the desert. I think they want to come here, to take a look and see so many people visit here, and left their things here, maybe 5 year, 10 year, even 20 year. They come back, they can still see their thing and say oh look that’s me.

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