Aug 30, 2010

Mataranka - Gulf Savannah

At Katherine it was stinking hot and we were running the airconditioner for longer than usual and it's cooling started to drop off, i thought it may need attention from a A/C mechanic and contacted a local bloke who told me that it sounded like it was icing up and to turn back the thermostat a bit, as it turned out he was right and that fixed the problem and it's been working fine since.

We stayed at a van park that was close to the thermal springs and walked down there for a rejuvenating soak, weird huh? 40+ degree's in the sun and we go for a dip in a hot pool, still it was wet and soothing. We did a big shop in town then it was time to head for the Gulf Savannah.

Our camp for the 1st night was at Territory Manor, a lovely caravan park just before Mataranka on the road to Bitter Springs. We had a lovely grassy site and were kept entertained with Anna the Wallaby and Chook the Chook along with numerous Lyre Birds & Peacocks. The Park also has a large lagoon with some large Barramundi in it and the owner gives a talk and feeds the Barra twice a day. As far as Van Parks go it's up there with the best as it is not pretentious and has a lovely casual feel about it.






We took a drive out to Bitter Springs which is a lovely natural swimming hole in the river fed by the warm thermal waters. We also drove to Mataranka Homestead for a swim in the thermal pool, we had stayed there many years ago and remembered it as being dusty and thousands of fruit bats. It was still dusty but the bats were being controlled and mostly moved on with the aid of sprinklers in the tree's.



We spotted Keith & Sandy whom we had camped with along the 'track' to Darwin weeks before, they joined us for a swim in the pool, if your reading this Keith i have your photos to send you.

Next night was at Roper Bar, here it was a camp ground in a bush setting with basic toilet & shower amenities, we had shade and the company of some other travellers who owned a Toyota V8 ute and Ultimate camper so we had something in common to chat about. They were from Albany and fortunately for me had a beer supply in abundance and i was able to buy a carton from him as we had left Katherine without stocking up due to the late opening hours NT have. We also had the company of a little dog that was hanging around the camp, we were told it was owned by Aboriginals from across the river and it's personality certainly confirmed that. It was skittish and aloof but with Vickie talking to it and feeding it pieces of meat it soon started to take an interest. It wasn't untill Vick had gone to bed though that it came closer and jumped on the chair and allowed me to pat it, it slept there all night without a murmer, in fact it never made a sound the whole time.



Next day we had a lazy morning and didn't decide to leave untill the afternoon, we called in to Roper Bar shop and refuled and told them about the dog and they sounded quite relieved that 'Annabelle' had been found and a ute load of locals took off to retrieve HIM. Yes Annabelle was a boy dog, no wonder he had 'issues'.

Next nights stop was along a lovely Lagoon near St Videon Ruins, it was perfect Salt water Croc country but that didn't stop us parking close to the lagoon. We had a roaring fire going and a pleasent evening listening to all the birds and animal sounds the evening brings.









The Road along the Gulf Savannah is interesting, from being corrugated / dusty / stony complete with numerous creek crossings to smooth graded surfaces, plenty of places to just pull off the road and take a break and a walk. We drove 21klms into Limmen River Fishing Camp for a look see, it would be a nice place to camp up if you had a tinny which we did not and we were not about to put the Kayak's in after seing a monster of a Croc at the Town River camp we stayed at. I had been fishing off the rock banks and spotted a huge croc coming down the river, i called out to Vickie and we both watched it cruising along untill it got level with us about 300mts out on the other side of the river, i quickly went and got my camera and a float on a rope and started to throw the float into the water hoping to get some closer photos.

It made a line straight for us but stopped about 50mts away, it just hung in the water watching us, i estimate it was at least 5mt long, it's head alone was over a metre in length. An aboriginal lady who was also fishing along the bank kept calling to us " It's a coming' It's a coming " The Croc hung around for a while and then went under, but two hours later it reappeared in exactly the same spot, the cunning bugger was watching us the whole time, luckily we were up high on a rocky cliff.








Another place we visited was Lorella Springs, this is 29klms in on a fairly good track, Lorella Springs was part of Nathan River Station years ago before being split into two stations, it was then on sold to the present owners parents who basically walked away from it after many years. Rhett the current owner has had control for about 8 years and has plans on how he would like it but not the money to get it completed. We suggested he get the grass greener like KingFisher Camp but was met with reasons why he couldn't waste the water, even though there seemed to be an abundance. The station has one million acres and lots of places to explore, we didn't take the 80klm drive out to Rosie Creek where the fishing is reportably excellent but we did drive 35-40klms out to some water holes and gorges, it was all very nice.






The thermal springs bubble out of the ground near the camp ground and i spent some time soaking and chatting to other campers, Vickie kept them entertained for a few minutes with yelps & screams as the tiny fish bit at her mossie bites on her legs before she vacated. Lorrella Springs is worth a visit but it's fairly basic and has lots of potential.




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