Posts Tagged With: bitter springs

Day 56 – R & R at Bitter Springs, Mataranka

There’s not really any other way to say this, but today we did bugger all!

We woke to thousands of birds singing, clear blue skies, sunshine and very little wind.

After mucking around for a while we both decided we should do something.  Ann did some washing and hung it when Bertha told us the temperature was 29 degrees.  I did a few chores including give Bertha a rub down so she looks more white than red.

This is a really peaceful place and everyone is friendly.  We have made friends with our next door neighbor.  Jack is an older gentleman travelling on his own and is up here from Victoria for three months.  He has been coming here for many years to escape Victoria’s winter.  He always has a tale to tell about camping 50 years ago, or places we should see, or places not to bother seeing.  We have a chat with Jack several times each day.

We wish we had found this place earlier, as we would like to have stayed longer, but Ann has actually been able to make a booking for us in Darwin which fits in with other arrangements we had already made.  Not only did we not plan for the V8 Supercars in Darwin, we also totally forgot about school holidays.  This Coddiwompling has something to answer for I can tell you!

This afternoon we went for a lovely walk down to the Bitter Springs Thermal Pools.  The first thing we found out is that they’re not actually thermal pools at all, but we won’t bore you with the details.  The water here is amazingly clear, and has something of a blue tinge to it.

Views along the road to Bitter Springs

Walking into the Bitter Springs Thermal Pool area

Welcome to Bitter Springs thermal pool

Not the sign you want to see near a popular pool like Bitter Springs. Doesn’t stop people swimming though!

Bitter Springs is a very popular spot and although we did think about going for a swim/float down the river, there were way too many people in the water and on the banks that we didn’t think it would be all that enjoyable.  This, we think, is an experience to be had in a more solitary mode.  A couple of busloads of people arrived and that was it – time to head back to the caravan park.

Walking past the caravan park kiosk we splurged a few dollars on Barney Banana ice-creams and thoroughly enjoyed them sitting in the dappled shade next to Bertha. Another chat with Jack and it was off to the camp kitchen for me to cook tonight’s lamb steaks (PK – they were from Burra).

This place is definitely on our list when we head back south from Darwin in a few weeks.  No school holidays then and the weather will be a little warmer (hopefully) so our swimmers may make an appearance – but don’t expect any photos.

Still living the dream!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 55 – Daly Waters Pub to Bitter Springs, Mataranka

Again we woke to another day of clear blue skies and sunshine but it is still windy.

We left Daly Waters at about 9.15 am – leaving the car park can be very interesting when over 100 rigs all try to exit at roughly the same time through 3 exit gates – but somehow everyone does.

Our first stop was the Daly Waters WWll Aerodrome about 3km down the road.  It is an amazing place and in reasonable condition – a bit like a movie set.  Interestingly it is still pretty much intact, and with no signs of graffiti or vandalism!  It was obvious that several travelers had used this area as a freecamp overnight.

Daly Waters Aerodrome

Daly Waters Aerodrome

Back on the Stuart Highway we noticed that the road surface was deteriorating and there are lots of warning signs near pot holes and damaged edges.  Not sure if it is flood damage or just wear and tear and a lack of maintenance.

We stopped for coffee at the Alexander Forrest Memorial Rest Area about 45km north of Daly Waters.  This is quite a large area and overnight freecamping is allowed.  There is a covered seating area, rubbish bins and a water tank (not drinkable), but no toilets.  It is just off the road so it would be quite noisy.  The memorial itself is not actually accessible from the rest area, which is a bit strange.  We assume that Alexander Forrest is an ancestor of ‘Twiggy’ Forrest of Fortescue Metals.

Alexander Forrest Memorial Rest Area, and plaque

Further down the highway we turned off the main road and stopped at Larrimah to have a look around.  There is the Historic Larrimah Hotel and the iconic Pink Panther Pub and Caravan Park.

Historic Pubs in Larrimah

We actually decided to indulge in a Devonshire Tea at Fran’s Devonshire Teahouse back on the highway.  It was the strangest Devonshire tea that we have ever had – warm whole meal scone with jam and clotted cream, plus 4 slices of frozen cake!?!   Fran served interesting food including camel pies ($12 each) with a friendly but direct “Basil Faulty” approach.  It was like a side show with her brow beaten husband George!  A great double act and we’re still not sure if they are for real or if it’s just put on for the customers.  Everyone definitely had a great laugh!  We weren’t game to ask questions about the food though!  We will definitely chalk this experience up as one of life’s truly weird experiences!!  If you’re intending on visiting Fran, make sure you ask for prices before ordering!

Fran’s Devonshire Teahouse in Larrimah

Most of the way up the Highway today the undergrowth on the western side of the highway had been burnt or was still smoking.  Over 100 Kms – amazing really.  It appears to be planned but why only one side of the road?

Scenes along the way; lots of burning off

As we travel further north, the termite mounds are growing noticeably taller.

Ant hills in and near Mataranka

At this point we might comment that our Coddiwompling approach to travelling has caught us a little unstuck.  Our destination has always been Darwin, and we have thoroughly enjoyed rambling and meandering along the way; visiting interesting places; staying for as long as we felt like; and so on.  No bookings – just turn-up where-ever!  Yesterday, with Darwin only perhaps a few days away, Ann tried to book some accommodation but couldn’t.  The V8 Supercars are on in Darwin this coming weekend and there isn’t any accommodation anywhere.  It’s not a major problem as there are plenty of places we can stay and/or visit until we can move on to Darwin, but it is something we perhaps would have anticipated if we weren’t quite so casual about our travel. Ce la vie!

Having said that, it was quite a thrill to see a number of V8 racing team trucks pass us on the highway!

Off to the V8 Supercar racing in Darwin

We arrived at Mataranka at about lunch time and Ann picked up a few items at the supermarket before we headed out to Bitter Springs Cabins and Camping on PK’s recommendation.  This park has a lovely tropical feel.  We were given a park map and told to drive around and pick our site.  This sounds great but there are no site numbers and there is thick tropical vegetation so it was not long before we were very lost.  People here were very helpful and we are now settled in our site of choice and have worked out where everything is located.

Bertha at Bitter Springs Caravan Park

Bitter Springs Caravan Park

It is such a lovely setting that we are feeling relaxed already!  I am now in shorts and t-shirt after weeks of feeling cold and wind-blown and wearing long trousers and jackets.

Tomorrow the plan is to head off to the springs and actually go for a swim! Maybe.

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

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