Spent two nights in Katherine. Did a bit of exploring, you know the usual things, Coles, Woolworths, camping shops, Vinnies (books) etc. Actually there was a really good local museum that we spent several hours at. Behind our caravan park was a natural spring that you could swim in, this was great as it is still pretty hot. The spring is well separated from the river which is just as well as saltwater crocodiles have been captured here. Oh and there was a murder in Katherine whilst we were here.
We still have a problem with the car overheating and losing water. Went to the local radiator guy who pressure tested the system and checked it very thoroughly. He couldn’t find any explanation as to why we are using water. It has to be going somewhere and the head gasket is okay. He spent close on an hour checking and wouldn’t accept payment when he couldn’t identify the problem. All we can do is top up the radiator every morning.
It was then just 100 kilometres south to Mataranka. As you drive through Mataranka there is not much to see, a park on the left and about six business on the right, blink and you have missed it. But it is a great place to stop and of course this was where Jeannie Gunn lived in 1902-1903 and that experience formed the basis for her book “We of the Never Never” which is now part of Australian folklore.
We drove out to the Elsey Cemetery which is a heritage site. It is beautifully kept and contains the graves of some of the characters from her book. Her husband Aeneas Gunn who tragically died of blackwater fever 13 months after they arrived at Elsey Station is buried here. A little further down the road is a cairn marking the spot where the Elsey Station originally stood. Whilst it was just over a hundred years ago that Jeannie and Aeneas Gunn came to Mataranka it is hard to imagine the conditions they endured as travellers now speed by on a sealed road with air conditioners on and shop at a local supermarket!
Great natural springs to swim at. These are feed from Rainbow Springs at an amazing 30.5 million litres per day and at a constant temperature of 34C. Bitter springs is my favourite as it is natural with only a couple of man made steps to help you in and out of the water. Just like swimming in a small crystal clear billabong. We even had a one metre long water monitor keep us company. Vicki preferred the thermal pool at Mataranka Homestead as it was shallower and you could stand on the bottom. What with the pool at the caravan park we are staying at and the thermal pools we have been in the water almost constantly the two days we spent here.
There is a small but interesting museum behind the government office. I don’t think a lot of Australians realise just how much history connected with the second world war exists in Northern Australia.
There are at least three caravan parks and one camp ground at Mataranka. We are at the Territory Manor Caravan Park. Lots of shady trees and green grass with good facilities, it is certainly the best at Mataranka.
This is a big caravan park yet we are the only caravan here tonight, the owner told us that in the peak season by 10AM he is full and they queue up to get in. Mataranka is on the grey nomad touring route apparently but once the heat starts to build all the tourists skedaddle south.
This caravan park has a man made lagoon of about one hectare and in it are some large barramundi. The owner feeds these twice a day and they let him pick them up. Its a good spectacle.
We had a bit of an electrical storm earlier and now it is raining. Sounds great to hear it on the caravan.
Mataranka – Friday 28 October 2011