Thursday, August 10, 2017


There was a mass exodus of caravans from Daley Waters campgrounds in the morning. Some headed south, but many headed north like us. You could not help but travel in a stately cavalcade of caravans,  I think you could safely say that for every five caravans , you might be lucky to see just one car.   The drive from Daly Water's was just a little over 100 kms, so we had a bit of a late start and didn't get away until 9am.  We weren't able to get into the caravan park in Mataranka before 10am anyway.

 We arrived at Larrimah by morning tea time.    John and Barb had told us that the Pub was a must visit and that we should also check out Fran's Homemade Devonshire Teas, although we were cautioned about actually having morning tea at Fran's.  Still it was worth a stop along the highway to check it out....

Larrimah is noted for a couple of things.   The role it played in WW2, and the Big Stubby and Pink Panther which both hold prominent positions at the Larrimah Wayside Inn.

Relics from the War.
Monument to remember those that fought for our freedom today..

The local museum
The Larrimah pub is pretty quirky in its own way too...but a tad more run-down and un-loved than its counterpart down the highway at Daley Waters. Outside the pub there is a giant stubby bottle and a Pink Panther and the campgrounds have a Pink Panther theme too with a lot of stuff painted baby pink.   A most unusual pub,  in that they seem to do more serving of devonshire teas than actually serving beer in the bar...  This pub has to be seen to be believed.  No photo does justice to some of these strange iconic places out bush in the NT.  I am sure there are no building regulations over here, and if there are they are certainly nothing like we have back home.
Both the Big Stubby and Pink Panther which both hold prominent positions at the Larrimah Wayside Inn.

The Larrimah Hotel
Delivering cartons of beer
Large stubby and Pink Panther
Steve getting up close and personal with the Pink Panther

Trying to sneak one..
How is this for clean fresh spring water.....
 After taking our photos of the big stubby and Pink Panther, it was off to check out the pub..
..Visiting a pub for a devonshire morning tea....
The Pub had to be seen to be believed,  these are just a few of the bits and pieces that we found in there.

We ordered a Devonshire tea and upon the urging of the publican who boasted that her had the BEST steak and onion pies around, the boys also ordered pies. For comparison you understand. They were indeed very good! Lots of meat. No gristle. The right amount of gravy and nice puff pastry.Yay!
Kathy enjoying her scone...
Barb enjoying her scones
My morning tea
Steve's meat pie
In fact, Steve enjoyed both the scone and pie
The scone went down firest
Then followed by the pie
Steve showing the chunks of meat in it...
We sat outside on the verandah amongst the bric-a-brac of old rusted memorabilia, which included and old type writer, meat grinder etc. Quaint! The campgrounds looked run-down too, so we were kinda glad we didn't stay overnight.

These friendly little birds came to visit whilst we enjoyed our morning tea..

 These walls being made or held up by beer cans really amused us also.  They were on all walls of the pub...
I had a bit of a wander around the pub,  Barb had spotted an indoor pool, so we both trotted off to check it out and photograph it.  They also had a mini kind of zoo or Critter Land as they called it but it was $5 to go in, so we declined the offer.  Just as well, my friend back home has since told me that they were going to report them as when they were there, a poor croc was kept in a plastic box so small that it could not move...
The undercover pool.... quite a weird shape and size...
Critter Wildlife Park

  In Larrimah only a few hundred metres down the highway is Fran's Devonshire Teas. It has a multitude of handwritten signs proclaiming her tea and scones and pies to be the BEST around. Great rivalry there! John and Barb had sampled her wares last time they came to Darwin and they were GHASTLY! The pie was covered in a cheesy cauliflower sauce which made it almost inedible. She also didn't post prices and charged whatever she felt like on the day, making it a very expensive outing.This is why they convinced us that it would be better to visit the Larrimah pub for morning tea... However, it was still worth a stop to check it out even if it was only from the street.  She obviously has a reputation because we noticed several caravans stopped on the side of the road and were in there sampling her morning teas.  Whether they will be repeat customers when passing through remains to be seen....  She is eccentric.....

Eccentric Fran's homemade fares...
This sign amused us no end...
 The pub wasn't missing out, with this sign directly across the road from Fran's and very clearly stating the price of their meat pies, and by all accounts from everything we had heard and read, clearly did serve the better pie...
Pub sign advertising their awesome home made meat pies
  Our next stop was Mataranka.  We stopped briefly in the main part of town so that John and Barb could fuel up and also visit the park across the road which has statues of the "We of the Never Never" characters from a book of the same name. It's a very well-known book, being on most high school English Curriculum reading lists when I was a kid. It's about the family who lived at Elsey Station at Mataranka in the early 1900s.
Jeannie and Aeneas Gunn
Bett Bett - the Little Black Princess

Cheon - the Chinese Cook

 We checked in to the Bitter Springs camp grounds. They are located right beside Bitter Springs, which are natural thermal pools near the Roper River. These pools are beautifully warm (around 32 degrees) and are fed at 300 L/second so there is a natural swift current that carries you downstream.
There is an entry point with stairs and a ladder into the pool which is lined with palms, water lilies and bull rushes giving it a resort-like appearance. It takes about 15 minutes to drift downstream with the aid of pool noodles to the exit point just before the bridge. Here you get out via another set of rungs and stairs and run back around the path (takes about two minutes) and jump in at the start again for another go. We all did this at least six times and very much enjoyed the experience.

Barb and I at Bitter Springs
enjoying our time in the water... It was 35 degrees in Mataranka today.
Barb, Kathy & I
You need to take your thongs with you to walk back along the stony path to the start of the swim again

 John wasn't that keen to go swimming, so he offered to stay back at camp and cook dinner for us all.  He is a sensational cook, and we shared a curry feast that night.  A lamb and a vegetable curry, with Turmeric rice, and poppadoms.  He has truly been blessing us with his culinary skills, and he will be sorely missed when they head west for a few weeks whilst we head north....

Kathy enjoying her meal
 John and Barb only had one night here, choosing to head to Katherine early so John could fix a few things on the car and van. The rest of us stayed so that we could  try out the Matranka pools the next day. A still pool but warm and not as much fun. Steve and Ian also wanted to  try their hand at fishing, but unfortunately much to their disappointment they didn't catch anything, so the only fish we could have for dinner that night was the fish Steve had caught in Corio Bay  and we had bought from back home.

Kathy and I had a pretty leisurely morning whilst the guys were out fishing.  Kathy caught up on washing, and I caught up on some blog posts and tidying up around the van...

In the afternoon we decided to go from a drive out to Mataranka Homestead, so that we could check out the replica homestead from "We of the Never Never" and also go for a swim at the Mataranka Thermal Pool.
Steve outside the "We of the Never Never" homestead
very large verandah's
Lots of corrugated iron used
Outside the front door
Tree stumps used for the exterior walls

 The walls did not go right up to the ceiling,  I take it this was to create a breezeway in these old homes to help keen them cool, as the summers out here would get stinking hot...

 From here we had quite a walk down through the Mataranka Homestead Resort before you can to the bush walk which took you down to Mataranka Thermal Pool.  This pool is fed by the water from Rainbow Springs, just a little way upstream.  The flow of the water from Rainbow Springs isn't as much as it was at Bitter Springs.  Rainbow Springs flows out at 120L per second, so therefore there was not quite the same current as their was at Bitter Springs, so you definitely didn't drift like you did at the springs we were at yesterday.  Also Mataranka is not as natural as Bitter Springs, with a lot more infastructure put in place, it feels more like a swimming pool than an actual natural spring.   Maybe the water was not quite as clear as it was at Bitter Springs either...
Much more built up and commercialized
Ian, Kathy and Steve in enjoying the warm water on a pretty hot day...
Ian, Kathy and I

 We did have a great swim, there, but all decided that we liked Bitter Springs better,  it was just something a little more relaxing by just drifting down stream, getting out and repeating the process all over again.  Mataranka Thermal Pool seems a little crowded for our liking also.  The same amount of people in Bitter Springs didn't seem to make it busy, because everyone was at different stages of their drifting down stream...

We decided to head back to Bitter Springs before heading home.  On our way back to the car though we did take a small detour and walked into Rainbow Springs to see the actual spring bubbling out from underground.  it was quite impressive.

 Back to Bitter Springs we headed to enjoy another couple of hours, of just drifting down steam and then the quick walk back and then the repeat to do it all again. enjoying the last of our time in Mataranka.  We have really enjoyed our time here, and often wish we could stay put for a little longer that just hitching up and taking off again. 

 Tomorrow we move all again,  this time heading to Katherine.....


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