swimming in Mataranka hot springs

Alien Landscapes Approaching 40 – Week 6

This week there was a big change in our environment as we finally started to head North, and we did the one thing I didn’t want to do on my 40th birthday.

Trephina Gorge

Before we started to head North we had to check out the East Macs. We had decided to stay at Trephina Gorge for 2 nights. As soon as we arrived, we changed our plans and decided to stay for 3. The campground was beautiful, set amid lots of trees, with individual firepits and lots of space and privacy.

The top of Trephina Gorge
The top of Trephina Gorge

We found the East Macs to be quite different from the West Macs. It was a lot drier. The waterhole had completely dried up at Trephina Gorge, but there were quite a few more sites with Aboriginal artwork and sites of cultural significance.

The 3 Caterpillars

This side of the ranges was largely associated with the 3 caterpillars dreaming stories and the caterpillars were painted in Ochre on the walls at Emily’s Gap and some aspects of the story were carved into rocks at N’dhala Gorge.

caterpillar rock art

The petroglyphs were simple markings that showed the lifecycle of a caterpillar and butterfly.

Caterpillar petroglyphs

As we did the 2km walk through the Gorge, it was fitting that we saw many butterflies flying through the rocky area. Watching butterflies while searching for petroglyphs about butterflies was poetry in motion.

Making Friends

Lala loves playing with other kids and is great at making friends in an instant. However when there are no other kids around, she doesn’t mind making friends with a grey nomad or two.

While we were camped at Trephina Gorge she approached a couple of grey nomads and started chatting to them. I wasn’t far behind her and by the time I caught up she was saying, ‘So, are you camping here again tomorrow night?’, they replied that they were, so Lala said, ‘Maybe we can share a campfire tomorrow then.’

She sounded so grown up, we all laughed. We agreed to sit around a campfire together later on and as we walked off she said to me, ‘why did everyone laugh at me?’. Oh darling, because you are so gorgeous!

What Happened Down at Wycliffe Well

We finally pulled ourselves away from Alice Springs and drove to Wycliffe Well, which is promoted as a site of alien landings.

UFO landing site sign

The road house is a caravan park that is completely run down and just a bit dodgy. El Enrique loved it.

Welcome to Wycliffe Well

He was so inspired, he decided to write a song about it. The next day in the car we were brain storming lyrics and I came up with the gold,

‘Beyond the galaxies. Beyond the stars. Around the sun and back to Mars. From the red planet to the red centre. Uluru is the placenta’.

Hahahahahaha we pissed ourselves!!!

We also saw a UFO disguised as a cloud… El Enrique was adamant as he told me, ‘that is how they do it!’ It is strange though… there is not another cloud in the sky. Hmmm.

UFO cloud

I must admit, Wycliffe Well was a bit interesting with all sorts of statues and murals located around the whole park.

The hulk

We were treated to a spectacular sunset, with all sorts of rusted out vehicles and junk littering the foreground. I blocked that out and focused on the colours in the sky. Divine.

sunset at Wycliffe Well

So, the night we spent at Wycliffe Well, was the last night of my thirties. The next day I would wake up 40 years old, starting a new decade in my life.

A New Decade Begins.

No alien abductions overnight, and I woke to Lala wishing me a happy birthday. She was super excited that it was my birthday (I think she was anticipating cake).

We packed the camper up and hit the road. Leading up to my birthday we had been trying to work out where we would be and what we may be doing. Our plans changed that many times, but I kept saying, ‘It doesn’t really matter where we are for my birthday, I just don’t want it to be a travel day.’

So, on my birthday we ended up traveling more kms than we had done in a day for our entire trip so far (560km). No big deal. I was still keen to get North and we had decided to aim for Daly Waters – a famous pub, where we treated ourselves to a delicious dinner. Lala danced her little heart out. We had a couple of drinks and made friends with the people at all the tables around us.

It was a great night and a wonderful way to spend my 40th birthday.

Palm Trees and Hot Springs

Mataranka was in our sights. Just 170km more and we checked in to the Mataranka Homestead. Our camp backed right up to Elsey National Park with hundreds of Cabbage Palm trees in our sight.

cabbage palms view from camp
the view from our camp site

It was a 5 minute walk to the Mataranka hot springs. There is a live band at the pub every night and we had Telstra signal and internet.

swimming in Mataranka hot springs
We had it all to ourselves on an early morning swim

We booked in for 3 nights and the next day, went straight over to reception and stretched it out to a week. The longest time that we have stopped has been 3 days so far. So at least every 3 days we have been packing up camp and moving on. 7 days felt like luxury.

bitter springs
We also visited Bitter Springs

We loved being able to swim again and went to the hot springs twice a day. I took the opportunity to catch up on some internet stuff and writing. Lala had some homeschool activities to complete and El Enrique was working on his Wycliffe Well song so we were all in our happy places.

We were also starting to plan the next leg of our trip. Litchfield, Darwin, Kakadu, back down to Katherine, and we are starting to think about Queensland.

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