Litchfield, Mataranka, Tenant Creek
Tennant Creek, Northern Territory
31st May 2016
We depart Darwin, heading for Litchfield National Park. Within Litchfield National Park there is only one place where caravans are allowed to stay, Wangi Falls. A recent comment on Wikicamps indicates that the sites are impossible to get a larger van in. So we take head of the comments and leave the van in a caravan park in Bachelor, about 10kms off the entrance to Litchfield. At Wangi Falls we see we could have got our van in to about half of the camp sites, there is no power here so at least we will have air-conditioned comfort in the van park overnight. Swimming in Wangi Falls has just reopened; National Parks have removed the salt water croc/s occupying the swimming hole. We arrive wondering if we are game to swim, there are overgrown murky creeks only a short distance away, could some crocs have walked back in? Thankfully there are lots of other people swimming, so we join them.
We drive on out and find the lost city. They have altered the 4wd track since were here 13 years ago, there used to be a reasonably deep water crossing at the start of the road, it's no longer there.
We also visit Florence falls and have another lovely swim.
The roads too many of the other attractions in Litchfield are closed.
On the way back Brad helps a stranded tourist who knows nothing about mechanics. The water from the radiator has drained, Brad sees there is a hole in the heater hose, he was able to cut out the hole, reconnect, top up the radiator and get him back on the road again.
1st June 2016
We have decided to not go to Kakadu this time. For us, the highlight of Kakadu last visit was the yellow waters cruise (which was identical to the one we just did in the Corroboree Billabong at more than half the price). We were told by many other travellers that many of the roads leading off the main Kakadu road are closed. So we continue south into Mataranka, one of our favourite destinations in NT last trip.
Mataranka has the crystal clear hot thermal pools that are a constant 34°. We stay at the Mataranka Homestead Caravan Park, where the pools are only a short walk away, the place has not changed a bit.
2nd & 3rd June 2016
We enjoy early morning dips, at this time of the day there are very few people swimming, in the afternoon it's very crowded. The bar plays the movie "We of the Never", this was filmed in the area back in 1981. The replica homestead is now located at the entrance of this park. We watch the movie and go and explore the homestead.
The boys were both able to hand feed the Barra that reside in a pond in one of the caravan parks. There was a cheeky tortoise who tried to beat the Barra to get to the fish Lachlan was offering.
We visited Bitter Springs; these are a natural river setting with a few ladders to enter the water from. We took our snorkels along and did a drift snorkel with the current. The water is crystal clear, with lots of moss/weed growing and floating around. The unusual sight was all the tiny little air bubbles arising from the ground. This swim was nice; however we much prefer the Mataranka Thermal hot pool beside our camp. We went for night swims, it was a bit eyry being in the dark.
4th June 2016
After one last swim we hit the road for a long driving day. Over 500kms south to Tenant Creek. There are so many caravans heading in a northerly direction.
We drive over (not killing it) a large curled up snake sitting on the road, it makes my skin shiver, could it latch unto the van? When we finally have internet we search on snakes and identify it as a black headed Python - non venomous!
Late afternoon we arrive at the Mary Dam just north of Tenant Creek. This would be a fantastic place to camp, but it is not allowed so off to the local caravan park for the night. Psyching ourselves up for just as long a drive tomorrow to Alice Springs.