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Innamincka is a small town with big dreams but with a deep dark history and has been enduring 90-year decline. Although from the air it looks like there's nothing there but around 25 blocks, the true Innamincka is silently sitting in the vast Strzelecki/Outback region of South Australia with only a population of only 15 people. Its unaffected pastoral feel makes a comfortable base from which to explore the majestic natural landscape, parts of which you can be sure no other non-indigenous Aussie has ever set foot on.

Understand

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Innamincka is one of the few Aboriginal communities in Australia; home to Yawarrawarrka and the Yandruwandha people. It is sometimes also referred to as "a ghost city" due to the abandonment which occurred in the 1950s due to severe drought and poor access to the town.

Looking at any street of Innamincka; it looks like just a bunch of blocks with no civilisation anywhere in sight. Just lakes and outback in every single direction you look at.

Although the town has only 15 people, that doesn't mean nothing exists. In fact, it's one of the more unique Aussie Outback towns. One of two places in the entire nation to have airboats, along with Kakadu National Park but a place where you can peacefully airboat with no salties around.

Innamincka facing North-East

History

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Innamincka has been traditionally inhabited by the Yawarrawarrka and the Yandruwandha people and still is today. The word Innamincka derives from local indigenous language and probably means "your waterhole". When the first European, Charles Sturt, visited it in 1845, he called it Hopetoun after the governor of Victoria and Earl of Hopetoun, but neither name stuck.

Innamincka lies on Cooper Creek which has been very important to the local indigenous people for millennia as this section of Cooper Creek contains many important waterholes including Cullyamurra waterhole which is so deep it has never been known to dry up.

In more recent times this region of Cooper Creek has achieved notoriety for being the place where the leader and second in charge of the ill fated Burke and Wills expedition died. In 1882 a police camp was set up that allowed a small settlement to develop. Commencing 7 April 1889, a Royal Mail coach ran fortnightly from Farina, operated by merchants Davey and Pilkington. Innamincka was proclaimed as a town on 17 April 1890.

In the late 1960s, increased tourism and discovery of gas and oil reserves led to the formation of Cooper Creek Hotel Motel Pty Ltd, which opened a hotel and a store in the abandoned town (the store has since closed).

In 1994 the Elizabeth Symon Nursing Home was restored and is now used as an interpretive centre for South Australian Parks and Wildlife the building also serves as the office for the rangers. The nursing home was listed on the South Australian Heritage Register in July 1985.

Between 2016 and 2021, the town's permanent population decreased from 44 to about 15.

Visitor information centre

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Although Innamincka has no visitor centre, the National Park rangers are available 7 days per week and are very helpful. The managers of the local store "The Trading Post" are also ready to offer such assistance as they can

Get in

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By car

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Innamincka can be accessed from Lyndhurst, a town 465 km away via the D96 Strzelecki Track. It can also be accessed via the 283-km Adventure Way/Innamincka Rd from Julie Kate's corner near Nockatunga, which is 326 km away from Cunnamulla so in total Innamincka is 612 km away from Cunnamulla. The road from Innamincka to Cunnamulla is now sealed. It is not advisable to drive here in the summer months, even if you survive you will not enjoy it.

By plane

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There are no commercial flights into 1 Innamincka Airport (INM  IATA).. However, on rare occasions, chartered flights like Air Central West or Outback Spirit Tours land there as part of outback tours in the region. The same applies for 2 Innamincka Township Airport., Innamincka's second airport.

Get around

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By car

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Motor vehicle is by far the best way to travel. There is also no car hire in Innamincka so the only way to drive is by bringing your car into Innamincka via the Strzelecki Track or Adventure Way.

By walking

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Walking is also a great option and the quickest point from end to end is 1.5 km long. However, if you choose to walk, it is usually under the circumstance that you came on a chartered flight; otherwise, you'll be stranded in Innamincka for about a week. If you choose to walk in the summer months, it can get up to 55˚C. Drink sufficient water and always carry water with you.

See

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Many visitors will wonder how much there is to see in a town this small. The answer is — it depends on your interest. Aside from a few man made attractions, the rest are all natural. But why would you travel this far to such an isolated place to see the outback that you can see in any other outback town? Innamincka's real draw is the undulating tangle of rivers, valleys, waterholes, flood plains and gorges scattered in the surrounding landscape that stretches out for many hundreds of kilometres uninterrupted by anything boxy.

  • 1 Innamincka Town Sunset Lookout (although there is no address, it can be found when going about 1 km northeast of the town using Browne Street).
  • 2 Innamincka Station, Innamincka Station Road (use Innamincka Station Road, an unpaved track). One of the driest cattle farms anywhere in Australia, and it's no surprise why. Innamincka Station is on private land.
The heritage listed Elizabeth Symon Nursing Home Innamincka
  • 3 Elizabeth Symon Nursing Home, Strezlecki Track, Park Headquarters. Once a nursing home, then an interpretive centre for South Australian Parks and Wildlife. Now listed on the South Australian Heritage Register.
  • 4 Queerbidie Waterhole, Queerbidie Waterhole. One of two significant waterholes in the area.
  • 5 Coongie Lakes, Coongie Road (do not use the coordinates here; follow local signs as weather may affect the road to get to Coongie Lakes). One of South Australia’s most stunning natural attractions, the 1.9-million-ha lake features some of the most diverse features anywhere. One of the best spots for camping, photography, canoeing, bushwalking and uncovering more and more evidence of Aboriginal occupation in the region. The lakes are about 100kms away on 4WD tracks

Do

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  • 1 Starlight Cinema, LOT 1 South Terrace, +61 8 8675 9901. Like the outback? Like the movies? Like astrography? Starlight Cinema is a small cinema run by the Innamincka Hotel, right in the heart of Australia. And what's better than watching an Aussie movie under the stars in the heart of Australia. Oh, and don't like watching the ads at the start, well why not have a game of 18-hole golf?
  • 2 Cooper Creek Tours, LOT 1 South Terrace (the coordinates aren't correct; to go, go to LOT 1 South Terrace and you will be directed to your tour guide), +61 8 8675 9901.
  • 3 Cooper Creek Crossing, Cordillo Downs Rd. Try crossing Australia's second longest inland river; the only problem is that the river has to be in a good mood for you to cross. Even if Cooper creek is too high to cross it is fun to walk down to the causeway in the early evening and watch the pelicans scooping up fish coming out of the culverts.
Cooper Creek crossing. Creek's in a bad mood
  • 4 Innamincka Golf Course, LOT 1 South Terrace (enter the Innamincka Hotel and you'll be guided from there; the golf course is across South Terrace but only some courses are), +61 8 8675 9901. Welcome to Australia's most remotest golf course. Unlike Coober Pedy, the grass is green, despite being so far inland into the outback. The 18-hole golf course is free, and can be played by anyone who chooses to stay in Innamincka Hotel. Free under certain conditions.
  • kayaking on Cooper creek and Coongie lakes. if conditions are right kayaking is great but often the water levels in the creek and the lakes are not suitable, either too low or too high also access to Coongie Lakes can be difficult. Best to check with the rangers before setting out for a 1000km drive with your canoe.
  • Dig Tree. The drive to the Dig Tree takes about an hour mostly on sealed roads but some dirt. The Dig Tree is the most famous camp site of the Burke and Wills expedition and makes for an interesting visit.
  • Ranger talks. The Rangers give talks from time to time . These are very informative and well worth attending

Buy

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As of March 2021, there are only two servos in Innamincka, and they are the only shops in the town. If you have travelled by car, it is essential that you fuel up your vehicle as the closest fuel stop after Innamincka is 465 km away.

  • 1 Trading Post, LOT 2 South Terrace, +61886759900.
  • Water. you can fill your water bottles or jerry cans with drinking water at the town square for a small fee but the machine does not take cash or credit cards you need a QR code on your mobile phone

Eat

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Are you a fussy eater or flexible eater? Well, Innamincka has only one restaurant/bar, so you have no choice unless you're happy with snacks from Ampol. Marrying the best of a traditional outback pub with all the conveniences of a modern city hotel, the Innamincka Hotel provides outback travellers with contemporary dining and very friendly service, even for the fussy eaters.

  • 1 Innamincka Hotel, LOT 1 South Terrace, +61886759901, . The one and only restaurant and bar in the entire region. Although with a traditional looks and the conveniences of a modern restaurant, there's nothing better that you could ask for. The food and service are great
  • 2 Trading Post, LOT 2 South Terrace, +61886759900. For quick snacks and an energy drink or two. Has frozen prepared meals available but you need access to a kitchen or at least a stove.

Drink

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Sleep

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There are four places to stay in Innamincka. Two are motels/hotels, and the other is a camping spot.

  • 1 Cooper creek home stay, 173 Stuart St, +61 8 8675 9591. In the late 1960s, increased tourism and discovery of gas and oil reserves led to the opening of this hotel and to this day, it's still standing.
  • 2 Innamincka Hotel, LOT 1 South Terrace, +61 8 8675 9901. Innamincka Hotel is the most popular place to stay. As there are no restaurants outside this hotel, it's best to stay in this hotel.
  • 3 Innaminka Town Common, Old Strzelecki Track. The one and only camping site to have toilets. There are coin operated toilets and showers in the town square
  • Trading Post. has about 12 donga's available. $150 per night as at 2024

Connect

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Innamincka is mostly covered by 4G on Telstra with a 7-km radius. No other provider has any coverage in Innamincka. However, if you choose to drive, no provider has coverage in those areas. The Strzelecki Track from the Flinders Ranges has more traffic than you might think because of the Moomba gas fields and the road from Cunnamulla has many tourists but persons driving on other roads should consider having some means of communication. Many people use UHF radio but a satellite phone is the best option

Cope

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If you ever have any health issues the Royal Flying Doctor Service has a clinic and two permanent staff and if necessary can arrange an emergency flight to a hospital.

Go next

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