We had a few more days in Mataranka so we did our best to explore the area as much as we could, while also enjoying some down time.
Mataranka Hot Springs Vs Bitter Springs
The eternal debate continues. Everyone that travels to this area debates whether Mataranka hot springs are better or if Bitter Springs are better.
They are very different from each other. El Enrique preferred Bitter Springs, which was much more natural with plants lining the edge of the banks, while I preferred Mataranka Springs because the water seemed clearer and there was no scum along the edges of the water. (The scum is a natural part of the ecosystem, but I was concerned about Lala drinking the water by accident, which is the reason I liked it a little less than Mataranka).
All good hey, it was all paradise.
You Will Never Never Know If You Never Never Go
Do you remember the Northern Territory tourism campaign from the 80’s?
“You’ll never never know, if you never never go. Try the never never now!”
Well, Mataranka is the home of the Never Never.
While we were there I was reading, ‘We of the Never Never’, by Jeannie Gunn who wrote about her experience living on a cattle station in the 1890’s. I love reading stories about a place that you are visiting. It helps to bring the environment to life, as well as add an extra dimension to the story as you read it.
In the story she explains that it was known as the Never Never, because once you have been there, it will always have a place in your heart that you will never never lose. That resonated with all of us and we all agreed that it is a very special part of the world.
Moving On Again
Our 7 day stop flew by and it was already time to move on. We left Mataranka with a new favourite place on our trip so far.
Lala was bawling her little eyes out. She didn’t want to leave, but we managed to convince her by explaining that we wanted to go swimming in some waterfalls. So, with tears in her eyes and a little sob, she agreed that yes she would like to go swimming in a waterfall, so we moved on to Litchfield National Park.
Lunatics on the Road
It was about a three hour drive to Litchfield, with a short stop in Katherine to stock up on groceries. We had decided to camp at Wangi Falls in Litchfield and were hoping that the campground wasn’t full by the time that we arrived, around 3.30pm.
On the road through the National Park, we were overtaken by a lunatic on double lines. He narrowly missed another car coming in the opposite direction and had to pull sharply in front of us. What a *@!%.
So we arrived at Wangi Falls campground and there he was right in front of us. He started driving around the campground, and we were behind him. There was only one campsite left, and he drove right past it, so we got the last campsite despite the fact that he was in front of us and so impatient on the road.
Wangi Falls is beautiful. It is a designated swimming hole, but as you approach there is a crocodile warning sign. Freshwater Crocodiles inhabit the area. Estuarine Crocodiles are known to come into the area undetected.
Oh, hello Anxiety, there you are.
Yes, I am still going to swim because I was 99% sure that there wasn’t going to be any salties in there, but that first swim, I found it pretty hard to breathe normally. I was freaking out a bit.
Walk Over the Waterfall
The next morning we started the day with the 2km walk over the waterfall. It was really beautiful, walking through rainforest and over the top of the waterfall.
A number of information signs on the walk helped to calm my anxiety down a bit as well. After the walk, I was pretty sure that they had that warning sign there particularly for the wet season, when there was a lot more water around and it is easier for the salties to get into the area. So the next few days I was able to swim and breathe at the same time. Thank God.
Waterfalls, Waterfalls, Waterfalls
We used our campground at Wangi Falls as a base to explore the rest of the park. Florence Falls and Buley rock hole, Shady Creek walk and the magnetic termite mounds.
By the time we left, Lala had sat beneath a waterfall with the water spray coming down her head. She had sat at the top of a waterfall. She had swum beneath a waterfall. Climbed over the top of a waterfall. Walked along a creek with multiple waterfalls. Gone down a waterfall like it was a slide (that was a small one, don’t worry!) So we can definitely say that we ticked ‘Waterfall’ off our list.
Making and Changing Plans
So we had decided to extend our 3 days in Litchfield by adding an extra day. I had picked up the self registration envelope to fill out and put our extra days fee in.
Within an hour El Enrique had been stung by a wasp 3 times. He was pretty annoyed and as I was walking off to have a shower he said, ‘maybe we shouldn’t stay an extra day’. I said, ‘Oh really??’. I went and had my shower and when I came back I was stung by a wasp.
Sooo, we decided to pack up the next day and move on. The wasps had beaten the waterfalls, but in the long run the waterfalls will win as the amazing moments that they gave us will last for longer in our memories.
Total Fire Ban
On the day that we left, there was a total fire ban. The wind had picked up, so we were a little concerned as we were driving out of the park to see quite a lot of smoke ahead of us.
We continued to drive on and as we did, we could see that the smoke was from multiple fires, which made us think that it was back burning. As we continued to drive we were passing fire right beside us on the roadside. We could see that they were small grass fires and were not fast moving, so we carried on until they were behind us.
The Northern Territory’s Interesting Fire Strategy
When we arrived at Berry Springs – our next stop – I spoke to my friend Troy, who lives in Darwin and he explained the NT fire strategy. Basically they start a burn and then drive off, without monitoring the fire at all.
The NT seemed quite lackadaisical about their fire strategy which seemed really strange to us because we live so close to a bushfire prone area in Perth. I understand that they do have to do burn-offs and they have a small window to do so, but I found it interesting that once a fire was started, it wasn’t monitored, especially on days that had been designated as a total fire ban.
Our next week in Berry Springs and Darwin we saw this play out multiple times, but it was all good in the end, with nothing to worry about.
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