An out­back icon on the re­mote Ood­na­datta Track, the Pink Road­house has en­tered into a new phase of its his­tory.

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“IT’S A bit iso­lated,” said Neville Ja­cob, the new owner of the iconic Pink Road­house. But Neville is quick to point out he meets a great many peo­ple as the pro­pri­etor of the much-loved road­house, and that’s hardly sur­pris­ing given its lo­ca­tion on the pop­u­lar Ood­na­datta Track. With that in mind, Neville reck­ons there’s never a dull mo­ment at the Pink Road­house, and it was cer­tainly hop­ping when we pulled in, sting­ing for a taste of the fa­mous ‘Oodnaburger’.

Neville pur­chased the Pink Road­house with his wife Adri­ana in 2013, but the two were no strangers to out­back life, hav­ing lived 200km south at Wil­liam Creek. As such, the Ja­cobs were friends with the pre­vi­ous own­ers, Adam and Lyn­nie Plate.

After Adam’s tragic death in a crash dur­ing the Targa Ade­laide rally in 2012, Lyn­nie sold the busi­ness and re­lo­cated to Ade­laide. That’s when the Ja­cobs made the de­ci­sion to carry on the le­gacy of this out­back icon.

To un­der­stand the ori­gins of the road­house, we must travel back to the 1970s. Adam and Lyn­nie were self-con­fessed hip­pies on a soul-searching sab­bat­i­cal, walk­ing the desert tracks of the old Ghan with camels, don­keys and horses.

In 1975, they rolled into the lit­tle Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity of Ood­na­datta and, after some ten­sion in the tour­ing party, the cou­ple de­cided to stay on to re­group. They never left.

Adam set up a mo­tor­cy­cle re­pair busi­ness in 1978 and shortly after, Lyn­nie set up a shop called the Tucker­box to sell snacks and sup­plies to a grow­ing num­ber of trav­ellers pass­ing through the area. It was dec­o­rated with a gi­ant Rolling Stones-style mouth with a tongue.

The Tucker­box also be­came some­what of a soup kitchen for hun­gry kids waiting for their par­ents to leave the pub.

When the Ghan was re­lo­cated and the old tracks closed in 1980, it was thought Ood­na­datta would die. But Adam and Lyn­nie knew the town was well-po­si­tioned to cap­i­talise on the grow­ing 4WD trade, po­si­tioned as it was be­tween the Flin­ders Ranges and Alice Springs.

Adam and Lyn­nie poured their ef­forts into es­tab­lish­ing tourism, and im­mor­talised the town by nam­ing the 600km road the Ood­na­datta Track.

In 1983, fuel was added to Plates’ ser­vice and the place was re­named the Ood­na­datta Traders. It was Adam’s idea to paint it pink; as a for­mer art stu­dent, he knew the power of jux­ta­po­si­tion and that the con­trast be­tween the out­back and a candy pink road­house would be a talk­ing point for trav­ellers. Shortly after that, it be­came known as the Pink

Road­house and, to this day, it’s still a talk­ing point.

Adam poured a great deal of time and ef­fort into the Pink Road­house’s iconic ‘mud maps’ tour; quirky, hand­painted signs and maps dot­ted along the Ood­na­datta Track of­fer­ing warm anec­dotes and in­for­ma­tion to lonely out­back trav­ellers. The man may have passed, but his le­gacy is very much alive and well.

These days, the Pink Road­house offers camp­ing, pow­ered car­a­van sites, ac­com­mo­da­tion and in­ter­net ac­cess. It has hot show­ers, hot meals, cold beer, gro­ceries and plenty of pink cloth­ing, hats and other mer­chan­dise. There’s a me­chan­i­cal work­shop for ba­sic re­pairs, where there are more than 150 tyres in stock and a 24-hour 4WD re­cov­ery ser­vice that can be called upon on UHF chan­nel 7 (re­peater). As has al­ways been the Pink Road­house’s phi­los­o­phy, if you get into trou­ble out here, help is never too far away – a con­cept that’s very much car­ried on by new own­ers Neville and Adri­ana.

Speak­ing with Neville, it’s clear he is hum­bled to be run­ning this beloved out­back icon. He is warm and gre­gar­i­ous with a sparkle in his eye that sug­gests he is right at home catch­ing the grubby trav­ellers the desert spits out at him, serv­ing them up a cold Coop­ers (the road­house is now li­cenced) or a hot cof­fee and lis­ten­ing to their tall tales and grand plans.


The Pink Road­house: (08) 86 707 822; 1800 802 074 (free call); UHF Chan­nel 7 du­plex (re­peater). Email: pinkroad­house@big­pond.com. Web­site: www.pinkroad­house. com.au

Lo­gis­tics of re­stock­ing the shop all year ’round can be daunt­ing. We’re thank­ful Neville plans on con­tin­u­ing the legend of the Pink Road­house. The Pink Road­house is a favourite with ad­ven­ture bik­ers. Pink paint on his pants says Neville’s keep­ing up with main­te­nance. Emma and Matt tuck­ing into the fa­mous Oodnaburg­ers.

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