Day 106 – 107: Mataranka
Staying at the Bitter Springs Caravan Park has been so relaxing. Our site was nestled close to the rainforest in a quiet spot. A short walk to the back of the park is the Little Roper River where blacky & whitey the salt water crocs live. The park staff tell us that if you don’t bother them they won’t bother you. They “know the rules”. We didn’t see them during our walks along the creek. I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing…
The thermal springs are 500m along the road then a further 250m along a meandering pathway. The water is crystal clear in a natural setting, lush and tropical. There are 2 sets of man made steps to enter and then you can float all the way to the end of the springs. Half way along the springs is another set of steps if you want to walk the pathway back. We enjoyed floating down several times.
A couple of people we met told us about the thermal pool on the south east side of Mataranka so we headed out there to check it out. These springs are more like a pool and entry is through the caravan park. It’s a short walk to the springs, there are several sets of steps to enter the pool area. The spring water does flow through from one end to the other. We preferred the springs at Bitter Springs because of the natural environment.
There is not much else to do at Mataranka so these few days have been late starts, a bit of work for me, reading for Andrew and plenty of time to sit back and relax.
Wildlife: Cockatoos, kangaroos, frogs, grasshoppers, warblers, willy wagtails, frogs.
Day 108-110: Mataranka to Katherine
It’s a slow start today leaving Mataranka for Katherine as it’s only a journey of 104km. We arrive at Katherine by lunch time and check into the Boab Caravan Park which is a short drive from town. It’s a lovely small park with level concrete pads and lush green grass. Cinta is in heaven! It’s hot today, 35 degrees so we’ve chosen a powered site. The season has now begun so prices have all increased today and the park is expensive at $45 a night. That was also with a seniors discount. The staff are really friendly and after chatting with the Manager he tells us his sister lives at Mission Beach! Its’a small world.
We head off to Woolies to re stock the caravan as we’ve got pretty low on all of our supplies. We’ve blown a bulb in one of the break lights so a quick stop to Repco to get a replacement. Back at the park and we spend the afternoon in the air-conditioning as it is very humid outside.
The power is going out at the park today for a few hours so I get straight into my work. Later in the day we are heading into town for our flu vaccinations and a bit of retail therapy. It’s hot and humid, how quickly we have forgotten about the humidity after travelling through areas which have a dryer heat.
The Managers are putting on free drinks and hot chips due to the power being out for most of the day. Happy hour turns into 3 happy hours socialising with everyone in the park. It’s a great night hearing about other travellers adventures and telling them of our journey so far.
The alarm goes off this morning at 5.00am. That’s a very early wake up call for us these days. By 6.00am we are on the road out to the Katherine Gorge for the Two Gorge Dawn tour. There are 13 gorges in all and they can be explored by either foot, canoe, boat or helicopter. The sun is beginning to rise as we take the short walk from the entrance down to the jetty. Tea, coffee, watermelon & cake are provided prior to departure. Tom is our tour guide and he is only a young bloke but has a great sense of humour.
The colours in the rock face are absolutely amazing. Tom explains the black markings are from where the rain has fallen and created waterfalls. He also explains the red floats in the water. Before the season opens the gorge is checked by the rangers for crocs. There are many freshwater crocs in the gorge but it’s the salties that have to be removed. Crocs are curious about things floating on the surface so the floats are placed in the gorge and checked regularly for bite marks. The rangers can tell whether it’s a fresh or salt water bite. Traps are then set to catch and remove the salties.
The boat docks at the end of the first gorge. There is a short walk where we view some aboriginal paintings high up on the rock face. The walkway is concreted amongst the rocks and meanders alongside the rapids. We then board another boat for the second gorge tour. It is equally as stunning as the first gorge. Two hours seems to pass so quickly and in no time we are walking the pathway again, boarding our first boat and heading back to the jetty. It’s a “must do” tour in our opinion.
Wildlife: Galahs, black snake, comorant, blue faced honey eater, goats, dead kangaroos, willy wagtail, warblers, corellas.
Day 111- 112: Adelaide River
We are packed up and ready to leave Katherine by 9.30am and it’s already a hot and humid 28 degrees. We’re heading for the Adelaide River for a couple of nights. The drive is twice as long today at 232km. We are meeting up with new friends that we made at the Temple Bar Caravan Park in Alice Springs. It’s great to catch up with Tim and Lyn again and we have promised a roast dinner night again!
We spend the afternoon chatting about what we have done since we last met and Tim has told us all about the beautiful waterfalls in the Litchfield National Park and the photos are amazing. There is a great park at Batchelor where we can safely leave Cinta in the van while we do some exploring. We’ll do that after our trip to Darwin on the return leg to Katherine before we head into Western Australia.
The Adelaide River Showgrounds camp ground is really lovely with beautiful lush green grass and Cinta is just loving rolling around in it. We’ve got a powered site with water at $27 for each night. We don’t need the water as we’re trying to get our tanks low enough to give them a flush out when we get to Darwin. There is a community pool at the camp ground and the locals have come in to use it and the washing facilities. The amenities are old but clean and that’s all we need. The race track is also within the grounds and there is a lot of water around as they had a tropical storm two nights before we arrived and had 100ml. There is also several large shade cloth areas for vans to park under, but we’re under the trees and the breeze is steady and cool all day.
We have bid farewell to Tim and Lyn this morning as they head back to Katherine and out towards Western Australia. They’ll be in touch with any “must do’s” along the way and to let us know about free camps and parks too. We probably won’t catch up with them again as they plan to be back in NSW by christmas so we will probably see them on our return journey sometime in the New Year.
Here’s a short video of the caravan park that I took today while having some drone practice!
A visit to the Adelaide River War Cemetery was a very moving experience. There are 435 burials from the Second World War. The War Cemetery was created for the burial of the servicemen who died in Darwin and surrounding areas during the World War in 1942-1943. The Cemetery contains the burials of 18 sailors, 182 soldiers, 215 airmen and 19 merchant seamen of which 407 are Australian, 26 British and 1 Canadian.
Wildlife: Brahma bulls, hawks, jabiru, crows, eagles, galahs, hawks
Week 16 total expenses: $978.42, still under budget. Some extra expenses this week including the Katherine Gorge Dawn Tour at $99.00 each and a flu vaccination at $25 each.
That’s a wrap for Week 16 of the Lap of the Map. Check in again next week to see what we get up to in Darwin.
PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!