As we were only stopping overnight in Tennant Creek, we wanted to get up early and get going to maximise the time we had in Mataranka. There is a free Barra and Turtle feeding show on at Territory Manor Motel and Caravan Park. It is done twice a day at 9am and 1pm. We thought we would try for the 1pm show, but it was always highly unlikely that we would make it. I think we arrived there by 1.10pm, which was fairly impressive. We zoomed into the park and rushed to the reception only to find out that the water was too cold and the Barra weren’t really feeding. Oh well, we tried. The reviews are pretty good, so keep this in mind if you are passing through.
We headed to the Bitter Springs Cabin that we had booked, and we were really happy with the accommodation. They provide you with some pool noodles that you can take with you to the hot springs, and this is always a good idea while you float around. There are two hot springs in Mataranka – Bitter Springs and Mataranka Hot Springs. I had heard many people say that they prefer Bitter Springs, and so we headed there first.
It was beautiful, but it also challenged some of my fears to go down it. There is a current running in one direction and you basically float down the spring, then get out and walk back to the start to do it all over again. It was beautiful, but there was grass brushing your leg, rocks and tree trunks bumping into you under the water and the spring was lined with reeds and bushes. It was also quite smelly in parts. I was ok, but then there was a group of people in the spring talking about a huge water snake they saw last time and that kind of freaked me out. Steff was really scared of Freshwater Crocs and I had to be brave and lead the pack. I wasn’t actually scared of the Freshies, but the idea of bumping into a big freshwater snake scared me. Still I lead the group a couple of times down the spring and we all survived. Steff basically rode on my back all the way down the spring hahahaha. I would turn aroung to warn her of something and realise she was litereally on my back. We had a good laugh about this. It was a beautiful and more natural experience than Mataranka Hot Spring. A few people saw turtles swimming and it was an interesting experience. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to see a freshwater croc, but generally you don’t see them. They keep out of your way if you keep out of theirs. I wouldn’t go along the side near the banks, just stick to the middle. I am pleased to say we didn’t meet any snakes or crocs that day. So proud of Steff who has faced and overcome her fears every step of this journey.
I had wanted to go and see the replica house from ‘We of the Never Never’, it was used in the making of the film. I had read the story of Jeannie Gunn, one of the pioneering women of Australia. I also made Sam and Steff watch the movie on the way up so they would also be able to appreciate the homestead. Sadly the house has not been looked after and it was a very disappointing experience. I would not rush there to see it. I really love standing in a house and trying to imagine what it would have been like to have lived in remote parts of Australia back in those days, but this place did not conjure up those feelings at all. It is free, but it almost would have been better to have paid for it and that money be invested in maintaining it.
It is located in the same caravan park as the Mataranka Hot Springs, so it was only a short walk to get to them. These were more man-made, in that it had an almost pool or spa feel, set in amongst the beautiful trees with the fresh flowing hot spring water surrounding you. It was crystal clear and I felt more comfortable there than in Bitter Springs.
We returned to our cabin in Bitter Springs and sat out on the deck having a drink as the sun was setting. A very cute little Joey decided to come and join us and came up onto the deck and sat under my chair. We were pretty infatuated with him. He was super friendly and very, very cute. All in all, Mataranka was a beautiful place and worth a visit. We had wanted to do Katherine Gorge but it was closed because it was still the wet season. Combining Mataranka and Katherine Gorge is a good idea as Mataranka is only about an hour and a half from Katherine.