Part 8 – Darwin to Mataranka

Day 21 Darwin

Top End of the Territory. Time out for Tammy.

After some retail therapy we returned to our temporary home at the caravan park.

The caravan park was far enough out of town to still attract an abundance of bird life.

Day 22 Darwin to Batchelor

There’s always last-minute things to do when leaving ‘civilisation’ and it was mid-morning before we got away to Litchfield.  What a beautiful National Park.  Those in the know often say it is better than Kakadu.

Litchfield National Park is an absolute gem.  It covers 1500 kmnear the township of Batchelor, 100 km south-west of Darwin. It was proclaimed a national park in 1986 and is named after Frederick Henry Litchfield, a Territory pioneer who explored large areas of the Northern Territory in 1864 as part of the Finniss Expedition. More information.

It is popular with Darwin residents as a day trip.  It was school holidays when we visited and it was especially busy.

Wangi Falls is the most popular and most famous of the attractions but it was closed because a ‘saltie’ had taken up residence during ‘The Wet’ and Rangers had been unable to relocate it.

With there being no swimming option at Wangi we drove on to Florence Falls. The combination of school holidays and the closure at Wangi meant that parking was at a premium and the plunge pool was packed.

Leaving the plunge pools we headed to Batchelor, via the not-to-be-missed termite mounds.

In northern Australia termites construct remarkable ‘magnetic’ mounds in response to local environmental conditions. The mounds’ thin edges point in a north-south orientation, while their broad backs and fronts face east-west. This configuration acts as a built-in temperature control mechanism, allowing the least possible surface area to be exposed to the heat of the sun.

Termite mounds are extremely hard. During World War II, they were crushed, mixed with water and then spread to make airstrips.

Batchelor was no longer the frontier town of my last visit in 1996. Bitumenised roads, kerbing, street signs and lighting, and a general look of ‘suburbia’.

We booked into the local caravan park and during the evening encountered a feral pig that found the leavings of park residents easier pickings than bush food. It was totally unconcerned by humans.

Tammy was feeling run down and overtired, and expressed her frustration.

Day 23 Batchelor to Mataranka

Bitter Springs is more ‘natural’ than the pool at the caravan park.  Jump in, float down (about 150 metres), climb out, and do it again. Flotation noodles are good but many people just used thongs on their hands as paddles.

We returned to the caravan park for a session in the hot springs pool there.

Mataranka would have to be one of the most naturally decadent spots in Australia’s Outback.  Unexpectedly so. How to while away a couple of idyllic, lazy days. Like so many wonderful, popular destinations, it is being loved to death by thousands of fellow tourists.  What to do? – see it now!

We passed the evening watching a DVD with our ‘power independent’ neighbour.

Go to Part 9 – Mataranka to Tennant Creek