Mataranka. Where?

Mataranka what a great place to visit. Mataranka is 100k south of Katherine and the Mataranka Station is the setting for the classic Australian novel “We of the Never Never” which was subsequently made into a movie starring Angela Punch McGregor. We arrived here on Tuesday and we met up with my second cousin Rob and Pauline Johnstone from New South Wales. Rob and Pauline are on their way to Darwin and made it to Mataranka the day before we arrived. It was great to catch up with them as it been a few years since we first met in Perth when they were doing a bit of a Lap. We caught up over a cuppa. Later they took us down to the Bitter Springs thermal spring. This is in the Elsey National Park and only a short walk from our camp. The springs are very clear, warm water with a gentle flow and is safe to swim in. Most people take a pool noodle (foam floaty) for a bit of extra floatation and allow the current to gently drift them down the spring. There are a few logs and weeds in some places but it is very safe and relaxing. At the far end there is a set of steps to get out and a bridge to across. It’s only a short walk back to the start and do it over again. If your smart you attach your thongs to your noodle so the walk back to the start is more comfortable. As you drift down you can look up into the paperbarks, and pandanus palms with little birds coming down to drink and dragon flies flying about also. I only wish I had a waterproof camera for some photos. 


Rob and Pauline Johnstone


Camp Bitter Springs


Bitter Springs Mataranka

After and evening meal we caught up again over a few drinks. Next morning it was back down to the springs. Mataranka is still warm but a much drier heat than Darwin was and to be swimming in a spring in the dapple sunlight was wonderful. We took a drive to have a bit of a look around Mataranka, It’s not that big, a roadhouse or two and a post office come rural office and museum. The museum gives you the history from a pastoral beginning’s in the later part of the nineteenth century to Matarankas importance during the second World War as part of the supply line to the North.


Mataranka Homestead Cemetery

A short distance from town is the cemetery where the husband of Jeannie Gunn, the author of “We of the Never Never” is buried along with other from the original station. The homestead was bulldozed during the making of a road during WW2 but a replica has been built as part of the making of the film in the 1980’s and still stand near the new homestead. There is a thermal spring at the new homestead site that as been cemented around giving it a very artificial feel. It is also very close to the river but it is safe to swim in. We had dinner at the Territory Manor Motel which was very pleasant sitting out under the stars eating barramundi and chips.

We left early this morning to get to Tennant Creek, on the way we stopped off at the Daly Waters pub. The pub is 3 k off the main track but certainly worth a visit. As you can see from the photos it’s a bit of a mecca for tourist. They come to leave their mark and it take all forms from their business card money photos, hats, caps, badges, license plates thongs (jangles, flip flops) It started in the 1980 when a tour leader bet a young girl tourist to leave something at the pub and she did she pinned her bra up and so it started.

Whilst at the pub we found out that the Flink Desert Races on near Alice Springs this long weekend and all camp areas and accommodation booked out. We went into panic mode but continued on to Tennant Creek and even that was getting a bit full, 500 km north of Alice Springs. We are in Tennant Creek for 2 nights then we snagged 3 nights in Alice Springs then on to Ayres Rock.

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