Mataranka - Home of the Never Never


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September 8th 2016
Published: September 16th 2016
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Larrimah Hotel Larrimah Hotel Larrimah Hotel

Also known as the Pink Panther Pub because of the pink panther statues around it. Several events, such as the motorised esky races are held there to encourage visitors.
Tuesday 6th September 2016



A great sleep was had at Daly Waters, with the temperature being very pleasant and allowing us to sleep without either lots of blankets, or with the air conditioner on. Breakfast was had outside in the shade of the trees under which we had parked.



Today was going to be a very easy day, the total distance to our destination of Mataranka only being about 175kms. First stop was at about the half-way mark, Larrimah. We approached this town via the old WW2 airstrip, the old runway now the main street of this town. A few occupied houses were passed, the population of the town was “nine including my dog”, according to the publican of the Pink Panther Hotel, the main building in the town.

We spent a little time here, reading signs explaining how it was a large base during the war, and how everyone left it as soon as it finished.



From here we went about 10kms further to Gorrie Airfield, another WW2 strip which we found 5 years ago when we came through here. Great place for a shady stop, we had made
Pink Panther ClubPink Panther ClubPink Panther Club

Judy sitting with her new-found friend.
this an overnight stop on a previous trip. It was about 8kms off the main road via a good track, opening up to a runway about 1.8kms long, still in good condition except where trees and bushes were growing through the asphalt, slowly taking it over. We had morning tea in the shade by its side, marveling at how over 5000 men used to live here, how quiet it was, and how nature was slowly covering it over.



Just before reaching Mataranka, we turned right onto a road which led us to a cemetery where some of the characters described in the book “We of the Never Never” by Jeanie Gunn were buried. After checking this out we continued on to where the old homestead used to be. This was on the bank of the river and by the bridge crossing it there is a pool covered in lily pads, surrounded by large palm trees. The scenery was quite blissful, but Judy didn’t think so because Rags drove across the bridge and had to continue along the track for some way before a spot was found where we could turn our big rig. She has no sense
We of the Never Never graveyardWe of the Never Never graveyardWe of the Never Never graveyard

Several of the characters in the film are buried here. The cemetery is on the road to where the original homestead was on the river.
of adventure in Rags opinion!



Bitter Springs Cabins was where we set up our camp, no fuss in booking in “ find a place you’re happy in” being our instructions after payment. We found 2 adjacent spots, well shaded with power and water. Bliss.



Late in the afternoon we walked the 500m to the Springs. On entering the water from the steps we found the temperature was just comfortable and lying on the rubber “noodles” we had hired from the park, we could just drift downstream to another set of stairs before having to either walk back or swim against the current which was quite strong due to the amount of water flowing out from the spring. The springs in Elsey National Park on not true hot springs in that there is no underground hot spot heating the water, just the normal temperature increase with depth.



As we were starting to look like prunes in the warm water we finally got out and walked back to camp. Here, we had our pre-dinner drinks, dinner etc before settling down to our evening chores.





Wednesday 7th September 2016
MatarankaMatarankaMataranka

This is a replica of the Elsey homestead, now next to the Mataranka Homestead.




We relived our visit of 5 years ago today, visiting the Mataranka Homestead and the thermal pools nearby. The homestead is now a hotel/resort as it was then, and the dusty campsite brought back memories of our first visit.



We firstly walked around the replica Elsey Station Homestead now part of the campground, the original built where we had our little adventure yesterday. It was built for the film recreation of Jeannie Gunn’s novel “We of the Never Never”.



The Rainbow Springs thermal pool is a few hundred metres from the campsite and we joined about a dozen others in the lined river pool with the water at a constant 34 degrees. Beautiful setting amongst the tall palm trees. Here 30.5 million litres of spring water per day flows through the pool out into the Waterhouse River and on to the Roper River.



A short walk along the river brought us to the Little Roper River into which it empties. Rags remembered this spot for the schools of fish there, but only a few were spotted today. Signs warn of the crocodile danger here, but none were
Rainbow SpringRainbow SpringRainbow Spring

This is where Mataranka Springs commences with the water coming out of the ground at over 30 million litres/day. At nearby Bitter Springs 110 million litres/day comes out of the ground.
spotted.



Walking up the opposite way we came to the spot where the water comes out of the ground, Rainbow Springs. This consisted of a hole about 3m deep and about 10m wide. The sign indicated that the water flow from this spring was over 30 million litres/day, a huge amount when you consider how dry it looks several hundred metres away.



A lunch of barramundi, chips and salad followed in the beer garden of the hotel, the movie “We of the Never Never” playing in the background as it does every lunchtime. It was a bit hard to hear there so we will make a point of viewing it when we get home.



By now the temperature had risen to the mid 30s so we spent the afternoon reading and napping in the airconditioned comfort of our van.

Drinks and a tasty chicken curry were enjoyed outside when the temperature dropped at sunset.





Thursday 8th September 2016



Today we decided to explore a part of Elsey national Park where we hadn't been before so we took off up the Homestead Road but then diverted left onto John Hauser Drive. Here there were some picnic and camping sites along the edge of the Roper River. Swimming used to be allowed here but since there has been a change in crocodile policy it is no longer allowed. Swimming would have been a good way to cool off as it was quite hot. Luckily most of the walks at each stop were short and we viewed the river form various vantage points. At the 12 Mile Yards and Boat Ramp we saw there was a walk to the Mataranka Falls but it was almost 5 kilometres and it was too hot and we hadn't brought sufficient water to even consider it. Maybe next time?

On the way back we stopped in Mataranka itself and went into an art gallery and then had a look in the general store. At the back Judy found a couple of loose dresses which were a bit dusty but a good buy at $20 for the two! She hadn't put in much warm weather gear so these will be nice and cool. Once back at the van they went straight in the washing machine as they were so dusty!



After this we again went down to the river and spent an hour or so drifting around in the warm water. Very relaxing!



During the evening we decided that we would head for Katherine tomorrow and decide where we would go next when we got there.



Mark and Helena intend going to Darwin via Litchfield National Park and then move on to Kakadu. As we have done this trip, and been to Darwin several times, we won’t be joining them. Also the weather is now so warm that we feel walking in these parks would be unpleasant - we must be getting old!


Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


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LarrimahLarrimah
Larrimah

The town is built on the site of what was a WW2 airstrip. The remains of the bitumen strip can be seen in both the foreground and stretching out in the distance.
Larrimah HotelLarrimah Hotel
Larrimah Hotel

There were some interesting customers in the bar, this gentleman repacking his swag.
Mataranka SpringsMataranka Springs
Mataranka Springs

Rags enjoying the water. The springs are called hot pools but they are in fact not thermal pools, the water being heated by warm ground around it.
MatarankaMataranka
Mataranka

Judy by the Roper River running by Mataranka.
MatarankaMataranka
Mataranka

This large stand of pandanus stands next to the main street.
Blue-faced HoneyeaterBlue-faced Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater

There were plenty of these little guys around the Bitter Springs Camp site.
This little fellow jumped into our camp after dinnerThis little fellow jumped into our camp after dinner
This little fellow jumped into our camp after dinner

From a photo we saw later we think it's a Copland's Rock Frog.


17th September 2016
Pink Panther Club

Pink Panther Club
Nice
18th September 2016

SORRY I'M A BIT SLOW WITH MY COMMENT !
I'M GLAD TO READ THAT ALL HAS GONE WELL.I SAW YOUR POST TODAY FROM BROOME. YOUR GRADUALLY GETTING NEARER TO HOME ! I HAVE ENJOYED READING THIS BLOG WITH THE FAMILIAR NAMES OF PLACES THAT I HAVE HEARD OF BUT NEVER BEEN TO !! YOU MUST HAVE MET SOME VERY INTERESTING PEOPLE ALONG YOUR WAY. YOU ARE BRAVER THAN I AM SWIMMING IN THOSE WATER HOLES AND NORTHERN RIVERS. THERE WOULD ONLY HAVE TO BE A RIPPLE ON THE WATER AND I WOULD WALK ON IT GETTING TO THE LAND !!! IS THAT PANDANAS TREE THE OLDEST OF IT'S TYPE IN AUSTRALIA ? SOMEWHERE IN THE DEPTHS OF MY MEMORY I RECALL SEEING A DOCCO ABOUT A PANDANUS TREE.!! ENJOY BROOME. LOVE MUM. XX

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