Day 11

Tuesday 30th July 2002


  • Left Daly Waters Hi-Way Inn & Caravan Park

  • Mataranka Homestead - visited Thermal Pools

  • Mataranka town - Huge pies

  • Katherine

  • Camped overnight at Katherine at Springvale Homestead Tourist Park


During breakfast we noticed a group of what seemed to be a family of aboriginals sitting by the roadside. Apparently they arrived overnight.
A bus arrived and we saw them saying their goodbyes to each other. We assumed the group leaving on the bus were daughters or sisters. The bus left and they waved it away.
A couple kept looking our way and eventually the male slowly came over to us with his head own and eyes averted. He was extremely polite and asked about Judy's Corgis.
He said his wife was very interested in them and would it be ok if he brought her over to see them. Of course we told him it was very ok to bring her over.
I had a great feeling of empathy for him. He obviously loved his wife very much but was feeling very inferior to us. I tried my best to make him feel at ease but he had trouble accepting that we actually wanted them there.
His wife was extremely shy and lovely. She stopped and started and he had to keep convincing her it was ok as they came towards us. She felt great warmth for the dogs and giggled as she stroked them.
While his wife lovingly patted and stroked the Corgis, we chatted with him about where we were from and going to and eventually they left and went back to the other members of the group.

We packed up and headed over to the service station section of the Caravan Park to refuel.
In front of us was the aboriginal family. We watched as happy, grinning kids hung out of the windows as the male who we'd talked to tried to start the very dilapidated vehicle.
After much trying, the vehicle started and limped out of the service station, with smoke pouring out of the exhaust, and stopped by the side of the road. He happily hopped out and put his head under the bonnet and went about getting it going.
As we passed by the vehicle, he had a big, wide grin as he waved to us. His wife smiled shyly.

If there was anything I could have done to help them, I would have, but as an electrician I am limited in my knowledge of motors. 
Again I felt great empathy for them and hoped their life improved out of sight, though I had my doubts.

The next attraction we were looking forward to was in the Mataranka area.
I had heard of a beautiful spot that was described to me as like an oasis. On my last trip through NT I was told to avoid it as I was told that it was once lovely and natural but had been spoiled by visitors and was inhabited by bats that caused a terrible smell. They also told me there were bottles and plastic bags in the water.
All of this sounded terrible, so I wasn't certain what we would find on our arrival. We weren't even sure where to find the spot. There seemed to be some conflict in the information.
Looking back it seems maybe there are a couple of spots at Mataranka that can be visited.

On arrival in the the area we noticed signs pointing to various areas but the predominant signage seemed to point us to Mataranka Homestead. We followed the signs to that site and we weren't disappointed!
At first sight I thought - "another commercial tourist trap" - but I was wrong. The commercial aspects are there but the beautiful natural aspects of the site are free for all to see.

After tying the dogs to the vehicle in a shaded parking spot, we wandered through palm trees past the main complex of food outlets, bars etc until we came to an open area. In front of us we could see a well set out and maintained camping area to the right and directly ahead an area of dense trees.
People were coming and going from an entrance into the treed area with towels and swimming apparel. Ray and Coral had arrived before us, so Judy and I decided we would walk down the path into the treed area in the hope of finding them. Judy went on ahead as I took photos.
A signboard at the entrance had a map and description of the walk. I looked at it, still a bit cynical at what I was about to see. I was totally wrong in my cynicism.
As I walked down the path I was greeted by huge palms and a wonderful natural setting. I could have taken a huge number of pictures but had to control myself and just take representative photos. It really was spectacular. There were none of the aforementioned negatives.
The water was crystal clear and there were no bats, just the happy sounds of birds that flew between trees.

Judy seemed to have disappeared somewhere in the system of tracks that wound through the magical scenery, so I continued taking photos assuming I'd catch her eventually. She was looking for me too and wandered out of the "green" area and onto the western edge where a track took her to a set of waterfalls. I saw the track but decided that she wouldn't follow it as it looked so barren - but she did!

I didn't see her for what seemed an age but eventually she wandered out of the bush wondering where I had been. She told me of a wonderful spot with waterfalls where she sat and cooled her feet in the waterfall. I was envious but decided that it was too far and too late to tackle the track. Hopefully I'll see it on another trip.

We never did find Ray and Coral along the tracks but found them back at the vehicle, talking to the dogs.

After we had our fill of the area we drove on to Mataranka, the town.
We needed fuel again, so I pulled into a service station that advertised huge meat pies. They weren't wrong!
The pies were huge, even for my appetite. One pie would make at least 2 "normal" pies. The content was delicious!
The meat had huge lumps of well cooked meat which was held in place by what you could only describe as a pastry roof that bulged from restraining the contents.
I ordered TWO, not realizing the huge size.
As we drove on I attempted to devour one but became bogged down and had to give in and save the remains and the other one for later. Judy ordered one but had no chance of eating it and had to do the same.

Around mid afternoon we pulled into Katherine and began looking for somewhere to camp.
We saw a sign pointing to
Katherine Visitor Information Centre and followed it. It's a great information centre.
The staff were really helpful and soon we were heading for
Springvale Homestead Tourist Park.


Click on the pictures for larger versions

Mataranka Homestead

The scenery as you walk towards the commercial area.
The camping area is to the right.
This photo was taken from the food area.
Signage as you enter the treed area
The next pictures are of the area as you enter.
Part of the walking track.
The Thermal Pool where tourists relax.
Crystal clear water running away from the underground spring.
Palms abound.
Rainbow Spring where the water surges from underground.
The western edge of the treed area.

The line marking the boundary of the "tropical" area and the "desert" area was very distinct.
I stood and listened to the different type of bird noises. Many birds twittered in the "tropical" area while crows made their mournful sound in the "desert" area.


This is where Judy headed. To waterfalls.

Last Updated : 28/01/2012 09:13 PM +1000