“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