11th September 2017
Cape Crawford to Mataranka (Bitter Springs) 485kms
A pretty good nights sleep, it eventually cooled off. I ventured out in the night for a toilet break, and as I was walking to the toilet block, I heard something behind me on the gravel. It was freaking me out a little, so of course you have to look, so I spun around. Only to find the resident blue heeler (guard dog) escorting me. Thanks old mate! When we woke up, we discovered mountains of fresh cow poop all over the camp ground. How funny are these cows, sneaking in and eating the lovely green grass, while we’re all snoring our boxes off.
It was warming up quick, so we got packed and head off around 9am. Single lane bitumen again, but in pretty good nick. Lots of nice woodlands, kapok trees in bloom, ever growing termite mounds. It wasn’t a bad ride, but we only stopped once for a pee, and just cruised along. There was some road works, and even a traffic light. Then we spotted some cattle crossing the road, next we noticed the helicopter hovering over the road, looking like giving us the heads up to slow down and look out, which we did, as more cattle came across, followed by a dirt bike. Then all was clear and off we went.
We got to the Stuart Highway, and there is a the Hi-Way Inn, a Tavern and service station. We fuelled up, stretched our legs, and choofed off down the road to The Daly Waters pub. An old classic, and worth the stop. We’ve had a few beers here before, and as it was lunch time, we decided, for old times sake, we’d have a beer and Barra Burger. It really hasn’t changed a great deal. Great burger!
After looking at the camping area, we decided to push on to Mataranka, as Daly Waters is a dust bowl, and no shade. It’s hot, 38C, and shade will be needed, and somewhere to swim would be nice too. The Stuart highway was a lot busier than the good old B roads, and everybody was doing 130 or more. You don’t see anything, and it’s a lot more concentration at that speed. Although there were way too many termite mounds dressed in old clothes. Gets a bit boring folks. We need a new idea. Mataranka is a small little town, with beautiful thermal pools. Before checking them out, we needed some food supplies, so stopped in town at their little shop.
It was what we expected, but had enough for us to make dinner. Next we back tracked to the Mataranka Homestead, which is now a tourist resort, and not that attractive. When Will and I first saw these thermal pools, there was no facilities or camp grounds established, and it was incredible. But now, it is just a dry and dusty (not totally the fault of the establishment, the whole territory is very very dry, right now) over used site. Bummer. Also, they had no camp kitchen, so we wouldn’t be able to keep our stuff cool for long. So we had heard about Bitter Springs, another camp ground next to another thermal spring, so we headed off there.
Mataranka is not what we remembered, it was a little sad, but Bitter Springs was a great surprise and made up for the disappointment.
At Bitter Springs, we met Glenys and her husband, who own the park, and are avid motorbike riders. Cool. After a long chat, we found a nice shady spot at the back, away from the vans. What a gem. Good little camp kitchen, where we had a nice BBQ for dinner, and great toilet and shower combos, where we could shower together with plenty of room. Good drinking water, and cute little Wallabies hopping around everywhere. Very nice.
12th to 13th September 2017
Mataranka to Katherine 130kms
Well, what a noisy night. The flying foxes are in, they are loud and messy. But I love them. The animals were also tramping around in the bush around us, and making more noise than I thought they should. But the morning was lovely, and after we’d rolled our bedding up, we made coffees in the camp kitchen and ate the old nuts and berries and considered staying another night. It wasn’t that hard to decide, as Will managed to do the first important piece of business while we chilled out over coffee. So why do we need to go to Katherine today? We don’t, so we’re staying.
So we relaxed, took a walk to the springs and floated on the current through the palms and scrub, quite stunning. The water was the perfect temperature. Soon there were too many kids, so we toodled off back to camp to relax some more. It’s a great spot. Will did the ride into town in the heat, for dinner supplies, then we had some beers and chatted to some more campers. So glad we stayed another day.
The water is the right temperature and the palms are beautiful. What a great spot.
Wednesday we had to get to Katherine for the other business that needed doing. We’ve got a self managed superfund (which took ages to get sorted), and it has bought a brand new industrial unit. Well the settlement was delayed due to title issues, and instead of it all going through in July (like we planned, when we were home) it is going through now. So there is paperwork to sign and money to transfer. Anyway, we got up and packing. It was already humid and warm. I forgot how much I bloody sweat. Will thought I was having a hot flush, well I was, look out, I might burst into flames. It was an easy ride to Katherine, and after refuelling, we easily found the Post Office.
Wow, this town was a real outback cowboy town last time we saw it. Now it was clean and modern. Traffic lights, a big shopping complex, and many of the shops look refurbished. Impressive. The paperwork was there, so we made our way out to Shady Lane tourist park, about 6kms out of town towards the Katherine Gorge, where Will had booked us a cabin for two nights. Yay, aircon, bed, bathroom. So it means we’re cooking and eating in. Cool.
The cabins were great. Super clean and well appointed, lovely sitting up on the balcony, catching the breeze, and it was refreshing in the pool.
It’s bloody hot up here now, most days around 38C, and the nights around 20C. It really means we need to change our game plan, and get moving early, finish early, and be lazy in the arvo’s when it’s really hot. Righto, ugh, I can do that!