So much to tell. But where to start? We’ve travelled more than 3, 000 km, crossed another state border, seen and enjoyed so many wonders since the beginning of September when we last shared a chat over the coffee cups. Sometimes I feel like we’re hardly moving at all, but as I sit and watch the cursor blinking, I realise our days are full and indeed we have been busy.
Four weeks ago we were in the Darwin, Northern Territory, a huge area – roughly the size of France, Spain and Italy combined. It’s so big, the landscapes are vast and ever-changing, and it has a number of climate zones. Darwin was the first city of significance we’d been to in months and we revelled in the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, the relative hustle and bustle of a larger city and the retail variety.
Darwin will be memorable for any number of reasons, not the least of which was a one-nighter at the Royal Darwin Hospital after a bad fall. However, I was given a clean bill of health on discharge and assured, after a CAT scan, and a menu of neurological tests, that all my marbles were indeed present … such a relief!
Darwin Highlights: Catching up with friends to share a meal; the Botanical Gardens; large garden parks and the lovely razzmatazz of a city compared to the languid lope of country towns. But after ten days, we left Darwin 12th September and after two overnighters on the way, we checked into Mataranka Homestead. The small town of Mataranka, south of Katherine, is renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool and pastoral history, as well as being one of the last stopovers before hitting desert roads in any direction.
The area was made famous by the novel We of the Never Never – a book written about nearby Elsey Station by Jeannie Gunn. The town has a fantastic museum with an area dedicated to the history of Elsey Station, the Gunns, who managed the large station, and the men and women who worked alongside them. The information boards and curation of the historic collection is a credit to the volunteers, a dedicated group of men and women, proud of their region’s heritage.
But the town is probably more well-known for its natural spring-fed pool. Our campsite was a short distance away along a boardwalk. Nestled amongst a large stand of palm trees, which is also home to a colony of
stinking squealing bats, the swimming hole is well patronised and well cared for by national park rangers. Because crocodiles, both fresh and saltwater crocs, inhabit many waterways in NT, wildlife rangers monitor the waterways daily and crocodile traps on river banks is not an uncommon sight.
On our final evening, we headed to the Malaka’s Bar and Restaurant for the Whip Show, found ourselves a table and sat in our camp chairs with a good view of the action. Nathan Whippy Griggs is world champ for many whip-cracking titles and holds a few Guinness Book of Records titles too. He’s a young 27-year-old with a good personality for stage and definitely plays to the audience, holding nothing back including ‘crack’ jokes. A lovely finale to our stay at the homestead.
After our four-night Mataranka stop we headed south; but more next time. In the meantime, I hope you’re doing well. Take care of yourselves and be well.