We left Darwin a bit sad having to say goodbye to our friends but eager to get back on the road. A phone call with Macs Tracks had us heading to Berry Springs to meet up and to soak in the water there.
The discussion had us changing our mind (again) and we headed out to Litchfield National Park rather than Kakadu. Our base for the two nights was the Tjaynera Falls (Sandy Creek) Campground, a nice drive in with a fun water crossing.
We explored the normal tourist sites, such as Florence Falls, Buley Waterholes, Wangi Falls, the termite mounds, the Lost City, Blyth Homestead and Surprise Creek waterfalls. Our absolute favourite spot would have to be Buley waterholes. We were able to relax in the flowing water, jump in off the sides and actually swim against the current. Such an awesome spot we visited it twice in the two days we were there.
After a lightning visit to Litchfield we headed towards Kakadu, but our car had other ideas. For those who haven’t seen the Facebook posts, Big Blue developed a twitch and an error, so we limped back into Darwin and called the professionals. Needless to say the car was towed into Ford and our very cool and amazing friends pick us and the camper up and took us back to their place. Given that this was Saturday afternoon we had a nervous wait until Monday to know if Ford had the time to look at it car and then find out what was wrong – a new sensor and a half hour job and it was running again by Monday lunch time. We made the most of being back in Darwin to visit some more tourist spots, such as the Museum and having a good walk around the CBD. I also was lucky to have a night off and went to the Deckchair Cinema with Marta and her friends. With a slight hangover we packed again, said our goodbyes…again and drove out of Darwin.
Katherine was our first stop for three nights. Here we relaxed in the thermal springs, drove out to the gorge, looked at some of the historical things in town. We loved visiting the Katherine School of the Air. It was about time Lily stepped into a classroom. There is a field where a small crater is fenced off and is reputed to be a Japanese bomb crater. However, the best time we had in Katherine was at the Katherine Outback Experience show. Rather than tell you in detail what the show is all about, Google it as there is too much to tell. Lily and Craig loved the horse breaking, I loved the tiny pig and Campbell…well Campbell loved it all! There was even some comic relief with a golden retriever ‘working’ with the cattle dogs and just being so enthusiastic and getting it slightly wrong.
Katherine was also a restocking place and we did restock with the intention to be out on the Savannah Way for two weeks or so. But as it usually does, we had some changes of plans. It started with us waiting for a post article to be delivered to Katherine, a road condition report from Murray and there was also a family meltdown (everyone was a bit tired and cross) and the cost of the caravan park! So we decided not to do the Savannah Way and packed up and went to look for some fun. We found it at the iconic Daley Waters Pub. Reported to be NT’s oldest pub, it is the decorating and quirkiness of the pub that makes it a really fun and interesting place to visit. And before you ask, no my bra nor Criag’s undies are hanging from the walls of the pub with the hundreds of others…we kept it family rated! After a fabulous feed of steak and barra, we partook in some refreshing ales and listened to the singers. The kids however, were running amuck with other kids out on the street, being encouraged by the pub owner by giving them rides on his electric scooter. Even to this day I’m not sure who won the ten pin bowling in the middle of the street or how someone didn’t end up in the bath, but it was a fabulous night.
We definitely couldn’t stay another night here as we would be broke and be feeling pretty sick. Even though we were still waiting for the postal article, we didn’t want to go back to Katherine, so we headed towards Mataranka, via the Pink Panther Pub at Larrimah. This pub was either an eye opener or an eye sore, it was strange and strangely interesting. Reputed to be the highest bar in the NT, it was similar to the Daley Waters Pub in the fact that it was full of ‘stuff’. Well the photos are below, you can make up your own mind.
Friends had told us about the awesomeness of a little private campground called Little Roper Stockyard just outside of Mataranka. This camping was very basic, but more than made up for it in kids friendliness, social activities, and food. Both mornings we were there we participated in the ‘Smoko’ of billy tea and puftaloons. They are a cross between damper and a scone, but (insert heavenly music here) they are deep fried!!!! Needless to say we had too many on both occasions smothered in butter and golden syrup. I even had to Google the recipe to make them again! Other than the food, the great thing about this place was the hosts and their pets. On social occasions, Des (the Owner) would bring out either a couple of Childrens Pythons or their massive 4m Olive Python for the kids to pat. There were chickens, water buffalo, Brahman cows, pigs, and a peacock. The kids loved feeding them and patting them.
However the main thing about Mataranka is the two thermal springs, both as different as each other. Bitter Springs is au naturel with the stream carrying you down from one point to another. At this spring we donned the goggles to look at the underwater scenes of weeds, trees, fish and turtles. The water was deliciously warm, but as it was natural there was heaps of algae that was stirred up by the amount of people in the spring making it a little murky. The kids loved it though being able to float down the stream in the warm water under the cool trees. The Thermal Springs, on the other hand, was completely different. They have been sculptured into a ‘pool’ and was deep and crystal clear. It was also a little more relaxing as the kids weren’t drifting away from us. Campbell even started to swim without his life vest, showing that his swimming is getting better. This pool was very relaxing and we definitely enjoyed our selves here.
So feeling invigorated and fresh from the station stay and relaxed from the thermal pools, we turned the car towards Lawn Hill/Adels Grove. This was to be two massive days in the car with a free camp at a rest stop in between. While we were a little disappointed not to do the Savannah Way, driving the black top drive from the NT to QLD meant that we got to QLD a little faster and much less dusty!