Mataranka Springs

“There’s time enough for everything in the Never-Never.”

Mrs Aeneas Gunn – We of the Never-Never

Mataranka is an oasis a little more than halfway between Tennant Creek and Darwin. Halfway is about 550 km from Darwin. Mataranka is well-known as the capital of the Never Never country.

Throughout the Elsey National Park are a number of permanent thermal pools where the crystal clear mineral water remains at 33 degrees year round.  This water flows to the Roper River where fresh water crocs are regular inhabitants but their salty brothers are only irregular visitors.

Dawn at Bitter Springs, near Mataranka

Bitter Springs, where we are currently spending three nights, has a large natural pool were you can swim and float the 100 or so meters with the current to an exit, walk back and then do it all again.  The large pandanus and cabbage tree palms complete the oasis picture.

Mataranka Thermal Pool, where we stayed nearly 30 years ago, is similar in size but without the floating option.  It has also been concreted around the edges thus removing some of its natural appearance.  Both are beautiful.

Anyone acquainted with Gary will know that to get that special photo he will; stand on the very edge of a cliff, be in the mud at the edge of the water hole, on his stomach or back for the right angle or be out of hearing when called back at the end of the photo opportunity stop on tour.

Today he was at the bottom of the steps leading into the Roper River up from the Mataranka Thermal Pool when his glasses, sitting on his cap, floated gracefully two meters down to the bottom of the river.  After stripping down to undies and attempting to find them in the murky water, we borrowed a set of goggles from a young girl and Gary continued to dive.  Still no glasses, so off we went the 12 km back to Bitter Springs to pick up the prescription goggles and try again.  Having all but given up Gary dived under for one last attempt.  Up came the glasses and Gary whooping for joy.

Was this image nearly worth $600 (or being eaten by a crocodile)? You be the judge.

This is just one example of God’s gracious care for us on this trip.

Gary’s addition – because he does the posting he gets the last say!

Julie nearly has it right. Not only was the water so murky you would never see the crocodile, but it was filled with large sunken tree limbs, so every time I ran out of air and surfaced I bashed my head. I was exhausted and ready to give up when Julie suggested that I feel with my toes. The snorkel still had to go under and I made another dozen attempts but was on my way out when she, the dry encouraging one, suggested one more try closer to the steel ladder. I have picked up my glasses with my toes thousands of times in the past and the recognition was immediate as was the transfer to hand then to wife. I am not sure whether I yelled “eureka” (very scientific) or hallelujah (more spiritual) but I know I swan a victory lap across the Roper River

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8 thoughts on “Mataranka Springs

  1. maybe the water was tooo murky for the crocs to see you Gary. Glad you found your glasses, and the crocs didn’ t >>>>>>

  2. Thanks Ross – being on the blind side I carry spare glasses with me, but it was still disappointing when I thought my best pair would be sitting on the bottom for a long time. I suspect the only crocs would have been freshies. When we were here 31 years ago they were only small when I swam in the Katherine River with Daniel and Stuart. They are bigger and more aggressive now if disturbed but only appreciate a fish diet, thankfully. The river is supposed to be salty free but there was a trap very close to where I went into the Roper River “just in case”.

  3. I’m glad you found the glasses but, being completely honest, I was hoping for a photo of dad driving the falcon wearing the prescription googles. Or maybe walking the streets of darwin wearing them – ala George Kastanza.

    • George Costanza! (please NB correct spelling D’Oh) what a putdown. Remember Clarke Kent wore glasses and after 30 seconds in a phone box he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. I think of all the Seinfeld characters I would prefer to be any aside from George (including the soup Nazi).

  4. Now I know where Simon gets it – when we were hiking along a Canadian cliff edge through knee deep snow to get the perfect winter photograph of Peyto Lake Simon turns to me and says ‘stop! – don’t move a muscle’. Expecting a bear, impending avalanche or some other such threat, no, he lifts up his hand and shows me where his wedding ring used to be!

    In Lawrence style we couldn’t go home without it, and a bit of delicate sifting through snow relocated the ring and we continued on our way back to civilisation. My mother-in-law and I share a number of things in common and husbands who put us in stressful situations is one of them!

    As I plan the final touches on our trip (to commence Wednesday) I can only imagine what will happen.

    • Gemma. I trust you will have no husband induced “stressful situations” on your holiday. Do have a wonderful relaxing time.
      Love Julie

    • Well Gemma, all I can say is that both you and Julie chose husbands voluntarily and chose ones who (apparently) like to taka photographs and are good at finding lost objects. I think Simon solved his problem of loosing wedding rings by breaking that finger (ouch!) do you have a less painful solution for me?

  5. as someone who spends half their time looking for herglasses I can empathise completely 🙂 The beautiful photos however are worth it in Mataranka is definately one of my favourite places ( albeit 20 yesrs since being there) but sound even more inviting particularly as it is currently only reaching a top temp during the day of low teens and nigth in the minus’s those warm springs are sounding even more inviting. We saw a caravan on the weekend that had a sign on the back that said no longer dreaming it now living it. It reminded me of you guys and also that Im still in the dreaming phase hehehe

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