Mataranka

One of our favourite places so far would have to be the four nights we spent in Mataranka. We rocked up to The Little Roper Stock Camp and straight away felt at home. This was the ideal spot for a family to hang out and and explore the area. More than just a place to park the van, this camping experience was a little more unique. Our hosts Des, Telka and little Darcy, would light a nightly campfire where people would gather to chat and share their travel stories. The fire would again be stoked in the morning where johnny cakes and freshly brewed billy tea would be on offer. The kids would be off feeding the animals, holding the resident snake or exploring with one of the many other kids who were also spending extended time on the road. In fact the family parked next to us were on their way back to WA after having spent 4 years living in their caravan!!!

Just another morning at The Little Roper Stock Camp.

Mataranka is a small town just south of Katherine and is famous for it’s thermal pools which keep a constant temperature of about 33 degrees. It is also the setting for the Australian novel ‘We of the Never, Never’ by Jeannie Gunn, a book written about life on Elsey Station at the turn of last century. I started reading this book while in Mataranka and I really got a sense of how isolated and harsh this land is and definitely would have been in early pastoralist days. Jeannie Gunn only ever spent a year in Mataranka, but she was changed because of it. The area had somehow captured her heart.

There are two main thermal pools in which to swim when you come to Mataranka. The first is accessed via the grounds of Mataranka Homestead. This pool is little more ‘manicured’ than the other pool, ‘Bittern Springs’ which is found on the other side of the town. The kids loved Bittern Springs because they got to use their pool noodles and float down the springs with the current.

Swimming in the thermal pools at Mataranka Homestead

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