Northern Territory: Mataranka, Daly Waters Pub, Banka Banka Station

(10/8/2018 – 14/8/2018)

From Katherine we travelled down the Stuart Highway to Mataranka.  Mataranka township sits near the Roper River and is probably well known for its thermal pool – this area is like an oasis in the bush.

We stayed at the Mataranka Homestead for 2 nights.     We arrived on a night that Nathan “Whippy” Griggs was performing.   I had never heard of him but Matt and Ally told us about him so was looking forward to his whip cracking show!!!

Well, what a fantastic performance, he was such a talented and very funny guy!! A cracker of a show!! LOL pardon the pun.   He is  not only Australia’s number 1 whip cracking entertainer he is a five time whip cracking Guinness world record holder!!!  Four times for fastest records with both one and two hands and for the longest whip in the world at over 100 metres.

This is Ally getting up close and personal with Nathan – a very different perspective!!! LOL

The next day we drove out to Bitter Springs for the morning.   It’s located a couple of kms from the Homestead in Elsey National Park.    Bitter Springs thermal pool is set among palms and tropical rainforest.   Here you can wade into the warm waters of the Spring and float down along the stream with the current, get out at the end and walk back and then do it all again!!   Some people were trying to swim against the current and found it difficult!!!!  The temperature is around 34 degrees celsius.   It was awesome snorkelling in the water and its a good idea to have a noodle to help you float!!!


Mitchell and I snorkelling

Mataranka Thermal Pool is located at the Homestead so we wandered down there in the afternoon.   The Pool is at a constant 34 degrees celsius and flows from Rainbow Springs at an incredible 30 million litres a day.      It was very busy here so we had quick swim and then back to the caravan for nibblies and drinks whilst watching Andrew have a  crack at whipping LOL.



Mataranka Thermal Pool


Crack that Whip!!!!

The next morning we had a walk through the Elsey Homestead replica.    The Mataranka area was made famous in the Jeannie Gunn novel “We of the Never Never” written about Elsey Station.    Elsey Station is now looked after by local Aboriginal people and Elsey Cemetery which is about 20 kms south of Mataranka marks the resting place of many of the book’s characters.    The Elsey Homestead here is an authentic replica of the Gunn’s original home and this was especially constructed for the 1982 drama film ‘We of the Never Never’ starring Angela Punch McGregor, Arthur Dignam,  John Jarratt and Tony Barry.     I remember this movie back when I was at school.


On Sunday morning we packed up and continued south on the Stuart Highway to the Daly Waters Historical Pub – a real true blue outback pub.   It was only $20.00  for the night (unpowered site).   We enjoyed a great dinner, lots of drinks and live entertainment here – we even got up and had a dance!!   A fun night out!!!  Thoroughly recommend staying here at this quirky and unique pub.



Australia’s first international runway and airport was here in Daly Waters.  From the 1930s to the late 1950s it was the focus of activity in the area.    It started with flying mail to NT from Qld and then became a refuelling point for Qantas international flights.

The Pub was a popular watering hole along the track and the Daly Waters Pub holds a liquor licence that has been in continuous use since 1938.

The whole pub is  crammed with decades of memorabilia – very interesting!!!   For a gold coin donation you can leave your mark so to speak (such as a piece of clothing!!!).   And that’s what we did!!!!!     We left a pair of Mitchell’s shoes outside and one of his T-Shirts hanging up inside the Pub!!!!

Apparently it started in the 1980’s.   A bet between a coach driver and his passengers (female) that they couldn’t drink x nos of beers otherwise they had to leave their bra behind and to this day this tradition still continues (there’s bras, underwear, clothes, hats and caps, foreign notes, business cards, badges, thongs and shoes just to name a few!!!!).

Mitchell’s blue joggers cable tied to a pole outside in the beer garden/restaurant area




Mitchell’s green Laughtons Living Life shirt above the Pool Table inside the Pub!!!

After a fantastic evening here, we left the next morning for Banka Banka Station which was recommended by Matt and Ally.   This was a great camping ground on the Stuart Highway ($20.00 unpowered).   It’s about 70km north of Three Ways (here you can turn off to Qld).   There are large grassy unpowered sites, clean amenities, licensed bar at the Homestead and live entertainment in the evening.   In the afternoon we fed some donkeys and camels and enjoyed a nice walk up the hill where there were beautiful views looking out over the Station.   Later that evening we had dinner and then joined other travellers around the campfire and listened to a country singer.


Banka Banka Station

On Tuesday morning we set off south along the Stuart Highway.   This was a big driving day where we called into Tennant Creek Visitor Centre and then continued onto the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve.


(10/8/2018 – 14/8/2018)





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