(5-6 August 2010)
After a typically late start – we’re the last of the travellers to depart Newcastle Waters, we continue north along the Stuart Highway towards Mataranka. Passing many apparent sites of interest – especially if you’re into all things WWII – which we pass on, we do however make a stop at Larrimah for a lunch break.
The curious place that is the Larrimah Hotel is worth the stop – you are welcomed by an oversized NT Stubby (5 metres tall at a guess) accompanied by a lounging Pink Panther. Also, around the ‘gardens’ of the hotel in which you can freely wander is what they call a ‘zoo’ but lets just call it a menagerie. The collection is mainly of native birds – finches, parrots and the like, plus some emu chicks (cute as!), a bearded dragon, and docile (ie asleep) crocodile. The tribe were a bit under whelmed by the croc, but loved the emu chicks.
To supplement our picnic lunch, we grabbed a couple of Fran’s homemade pies (a couple hundred metres up the road from the hotel) – I went the safe beef option as I don’t think the tribe would take to buffalo or crocodile pies. And what a winner – the tribe couldn’t get enough of Fran’s, despite it looking like something a dog threw up (there was a pile of mash and vegies drowning in HP sauce atop the pie).
We reach Mataranka and stay at the Mataranka Homestead which adjoins Elsey NP where we take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Mataranka Thermal Pool. The water is a constant 34C and despite the day’s temperature being around 30C, the pool was a gorgeously relaxing experience.
Taking the tribe for the short walk around this part of Elsey NP, we wander past the Thermal Pool and take in the view of the river where we spot archer fish near the bank, although we didn’t get to see them spit at any unsuspecting insects.
As for camping at the Mataranka Homestead, the tribe were raptured by the sight of a couple of peacocks, peahens and wallabies around the campsite. Also, a bonus for all you film buffs, and in particular, Australian film fans, is the Elsey Homestead replica built for the 1982 film We of the Never Never, just lacking the presence of Angela Punch MacGregor.