Mataranka – Elsey NP and the Bitter Springs

Our next stop was Mataranka – a small town next to the Elsey National Park this National Park was established from the purchase of Elsey Station which is famous due to the Australian classic ‘We of the Never Never’.

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The Elsey NP is set on the Roper River and has a lovely camp bushy campground. We decided to camp there for two nights to enjoy the site the first being the Bitter Springs. We all had fun swimming in the amazing Bitter Springs a creek fed by a thermal hot spring from the Artesian that is approx. 32.C and has a crystal clear water flowing with quite a strong current which you float 250m downstream then get out and float around again. The kids loved it.

Holly underwater in the Bitter Springs searching for turtles

Holly underwater in the Bitter Springs searching for turtles

Aaron floating in the spring

Aaron floating in the spring

We visited Mataranka Homestead which has the replica home from ‘We of the Never Never’ the classic Australian autobiographical novel of Jeaniee Gunn written about her life experiences moving from Melbourne to Mataranka in 1902 – quite a lifestyle change! This area is remote and quite wild now …reading the book has lovely descriptions of her adventures on an outback cattle station with bush men and indigenous community. In the book she describes the outback:

“Land of the Never Never; in that elusive land with an elusive name – a land of dangers and hardships, privations, yet loved as few lands are loved – a land that bewitches her people with strange spells and mysteries until they call sweet bitter and bitter sweet. Called the Never Never because they who have lived in it Never Never voluntarily leave it and too many Never Never do leave it. But we who have lived in it, and loved it, and left it, know that our hearts can Never Never rest away from it.” Jeaniee Gunn

I loved that part of the book and the outback Northern Territory is definitely beautiful country, the red earth and the blue sky framed with gum trees…but she forgot to mention the red dirt that you can Never Never escape!


A replica bed from the movie set

A replica bed from the movie set



Mataranka Homestead adjacent to Elsey NP and has another Hot Spring Pool. When we arrived it was a bit like the hot spring scene from Cocoon minus the aliens. (ie lots of elderly people…Andrew and I did not notice any youthful beneficial side effects from the water!) Thankfully some other children arrived to join our family in bringing down the average age in the hot springs and the children all had a ball splashing around all afternoon in the balmy water.

Maternal Hot Pool

Maternal Hot Pool

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Later that evening we came back to the homestead for the evening entertainment which included a family of five singing followed by Nathan Griggs…champion whip cracker…this was very entertaining and hilarious show cracking his whips his finale was whips on fire to the tune of ‘great balls of fire!’ outback entertainment is a cultural experience for the whole family!

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