MATARANKA SPRINGS - A TROPICAL OASIS
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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MONDAY JULY 5
MILEAGE: 20474 kms
JOURNEY: Dunmarra, Mataranka, Mataranka Springs
WEATHER: Cloudy, humid, 22 degrees at 8.30am
We left our road stop early..
We stopped at Dunmarra, a well kept tourist stop, about 80 kms on, where we had coffee, cold coffee because we were not keen to increase our discomfort; the sudden increase in temperature, now around 30 gegrees, is taking some adjusting to!
We watched the outback tourist coaches spill out travellers exploring the north. Apparently some of the dirt roads were closed due to rain and so journeys were re scheduled. And yes the summer clothing was on and we looked for shade.
The apostle birds squabbled on the ground and we were excited to recognize the "Great Bowerbird" with its bright pink marking and cat like sound. It is lovely just to sit and stare and spend time waiting for such events to happen.
We had thought about spending the night at the Daly Waters Pub but got there at lunch time, bought a famous “barra burger" to share and decided that the camp ground was nothing special. This pub has won fame and fortune and claims to be the oldest one in the Northern Territory; it serviced drovers, later miners, and has had a continuous liquor licence since 1893. Qantas built the existing structure in 1930 when it was a refuelling stop for international flights and not much seems to have changed.
There was a continuous stream of travellers, soaking up the atmosphere, eating and buying souvenirs. Maybe the icon is too touristy and the tough and brusque bar maids of long ago have been replaced by pretty blonde back-packers.
So we drove on to Mataranka for supplies and then to Mataranka Homestead Resort whose camping ground is just 100 metres from the fabulous thermal pools. We had some trouble finding a level site- it is no fun sleeping crooked- and then needed a cold beer from the outback bar, which was a really attractive venue!
And of course it was down to the springs for a dip in the 35 degree water flowing at 16,000 litres a minute and presenting a lovely steel blue hue. Wow! This is so relaxing and even though it is school holidays and busy you don't feel crowded. The springs surge up from through limestome and are warmed to the temperature of the earth before pushing through at nearby Rainbow Spring. Apparently the pool was expanded by soldiers stationed here during WW11. The Elsey National Park surrounds the springs and you can take walks along the magnificent Roper River.
Some people might remember the novel "We of The Never-Never" written many years ago in 1908 by Jeannie Gunn who came up here to Elsey Cattle station with her husband who was the station manager. He died after a year and she returned to Melbourne and wrote of life in the Top End.
We looked at a remake of the Elsey station homestead near our campground for the making of the film of the book!
The walks around the campgound were more impressive and we enjoyed a quiet tine at Stevie's Waterhole 2kms away from the springs!
We visited the Jalmurack Camping Ground on the Roper River and watched a family trying their luck fishing a barramundi for lunch but no luck while we were there- just a catfish! Apparently it is safe to swim here although there are signs everywhere warning of crocodile danger!
A quick visit to Bitter Springs where you can swim a little circuit amonst the palms and ferns and then back on the road to Katherine, 100 kms north. Tomorrow there is soccer at 4am so we need to get TV coverage!