A thermal spring a day is super easy to do when you’re hanging out around the Mataraka area of the territory, all of them just as relaxing and tropical as the last. Before we reached this amazing place though, we said goodbye to Stef in Alice and drove the 400 km back up the Stuart Highway to the Devils Marbles. A thousands of years old formation of rocks in the shape of, you guessed it, marbles, fills the landscape. A stop off at the Devils Marbles or Karlu Karlu is well worth it, we spent ages climbing around and of course taking a ton of pictures. There’s a campsite there as well which just has toilets and fire pits but it’s about $3.30 a night which is so cheap compared to proper campsites in the area.
It felt like we were driving most of the day so we were so glad to finally reach Daly Waters, a tiny place just before Mataranka, worth a visit just for the pictures of seriously random things going on there.
Finally we reached Mataranka Homestead and set our tent up! An unpowered site is $24 a night and there’s showers, toilets, a bar and restaurant that serves food pretty much all day. Thermal pool aside though the most incredible thing at Mataranka are the hundreds of thousands of bats that sleep in the trees during the day, as soon as you start walking the path to the thermal pool if you look up you’ll see them all in the trees, absolutely amazing! We carried on to the end of the boardwalk through the trees and there were loads of people sat at the side of the Roper River that runs along next to the campsite, one woman there told us that at sunset all the bats fly down to the river so obviously we found a little space and stayed to watch. My god, what an incredible sight! I’ve never seen anything like it, absolutely thousands of bats fly up from the trees all at once and start swarming over the river and flying down to drink, if you look up through the trees half the sky is black with bats! As if that wasn’t awesome enough as soon as the bats start flying down freshwater crocodiles appear in the water and start snapping at them! It’s kind of sad/kind of amazing to watch as they jump out of the water and snap up a bat! I’ve read since that the bats only nest there at certain times of the year so I’m afraid that amazing bit of nature can’t be guaranteed all year round!
The next day we took an early morning swim in the thermal pool which is so beautifully warm, I think it’s constant temperature is around 37 degrees. We then drove through the tiny town of Mataranka, there’s not much there but a very interesting termite mound which must the biggest, you see thousands of them in the fields as you drive along but non quite as big as this one! Just on the other side of town are Bitter Springs which are amazing to swim in as well, this one is more of a small river that you swim along rather than a pool. The current is kinda strong and it carries you along which is lovely, however there is a huge log about half way down that even though a group of people warned us about we still managed to smash into, poorly knees! The rest of the day was spent in and out of the thermal pool at Mataranka, drinking, eating and just generally having a really relaxed day which was amazing.
mataranka thermal pool.
fishing on the roper river.
giant termite mound.
We stayed another night at Mataranka before driving a tiny 100km up to Katherine. After a visit to the tourism centre we went and found the hot springs there, which aren’t signposted even once, to get to them head west on Victoria Highway a couple of km, ask at the tourism office to be sure. We met a couple there from New Zealand and Liverpool who were lovely, we mainly talked about one of my favourite subjects, food in Australia vs food in England! A couple of hours later when we were shrivelled like prunes from being in the water so long, we decided it was probably time to head over to Nitmiluk National Park where we wanted to camp for the night.
hot springs selfie.