A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013 - Alice Springs to Mataranka

Well, been a while since the last post, so better fill you in on where weve been.
Bit of confusion with the last email as I edited the post a few times and this thing must send an email each time it is changed.

I think the end of the last episode we were heading into Alice Springs. Did we mention it was cold.
After 2 months or so in Western Qld and the Gulf where overnight temperatures rarely got below 20, within a few days we were getting single figures (like 5) and only mid teens during the day. So we had to work out how to put jeans and jumpers on again.

After a day or so poking around the big smoke of Alice Springs, we headed aout to the West Macdonnel Ranges and camped in a few different places.
Kids made some damper to fulfill some practical schoolwork:

First two nights we spent at Ellery Big Hole:
Then moved on to Orminston Gorge. The campground here didn't allow fires so we backtracked a bit to Sperpentine Creek which is a bit more "bush camping" rather than the standard NP camps.

Found a few caves in the hills:

Evan in the Civil Construction game

One of the reasons we were in Alice at the coldest time of year was the Finke Desert race:

Sat around in the cold and watched a few fast cars and bikes and lots of slow ones. The event gets about 50 cars and 400 odd bikes.

Race Day 1 on the race track which is the service road beside the old Ghan Railway line:

Eventual buggy winner:

Sponsorship money must be impressive for this class of racing. The pro buggies chassis alone cost around $250,000 then you have to put an engine and suspension on it.

Bike winner Todd Smith:

The following week we went and saw the big Rock:

Bit of a hike to the top and pretty steep on all sides:

Also had a look at the Olgas next door:

Other attractions at Yulara was Scruffy the baby camel:

Back to Alice and in and out of Repco a few more times to chase car parts that I'd ordered a month prior, then we returned North.
Tennant Creek Overland Telegraph Station. Most of the OTL stations appear to be restored and open, so if you miss one you can always stop at the next town.

Stuart Highway has a selection of unremarkable attractions, mainly monuments to early explorers and pioneers who passed through. They are conveniently spread out to relieve the monotony in between the monotonous bits.

Near Elliot is Longreach Waterhole. Very pleasant camping area so we stayed there for a few nights. Bit windy during the day at times.


Just North of Elliot is Newcastle Waters. This was the crossroads of the stock routes and a busy Drovers camp. In its heyday it was a small town with a pub, school, store etc. The School still runs and a few of the houses are occupied.
Pub closed in 1975:

Next stop was Mataranka which is famous for its "Thermal Pool". A spring fed creek that isn't thermal, just nice a warm because of where it is. Kids swam here most days:

Ella and Evan turned 7, so we had a night in Katherine, which was only 100km away.

July the first in NT is Territory Day. The one day of the year you can buy and use fireworks. The local sports oval put on a very impressive show after the locals tried to blow each other up around the perimeter of the oval. The main fireworks were set off from the cricket pitch so we were pretty close to it and could feel the ash falling on our faces.
Kids dressed up for a night out:

We stayed on Cave Creek station near Mataranka for 3 weeks and did a bit of helping out around the place.
The kids caught up on some school work and finished off the term while I welded stock yards. Thankfully the workmanship improved over time and we were allowed to stay.
The station has another spring fed river running through it which had a good swimming hole. No Salties up this far (apparently), although they are only about 20km down the Roper River:

Cave Creek regatta:

Gernooing up the Waterhouse River

Near Larrimah is Birdum Creek Station (another 100,000 odd acres) leased by our hosts. This time of year is mustering so we went down for a day and learnt lots about moving cows around in small areas they aren't very happy in. This lot are about to get branded:


Beth on the slide gate.

Before we left the station we were taken on a tour out East to a place called Goose Lagoon.
Negotiating the locals on the way:

Kids attempting to fish with a stick, line, hook and leftover pasta.

Then Evan cought a fish:

And luckily not a croc or Bull Shark which allegedly inhabit the waterhole.

More locals on the way back, although these ones are vermin along with the Water Buffalo that regularly get around the area.

So a very enjoyable 3 weeks was had. We've moved on now and are at Katherine Gorge before the Katherine Show next weekend.

Haven't ventured too far off the main road in this state. NT has very good sealed roads, due mainly to only having one.

Next place is Kakadu followed by Darwin and into WA.

Posted by enookway 03:56

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Hi Ian, Simone and family,
Nice family photo at the rock.
Heading for warmer weather I see.
Enjoy Kakadu and the Kimberly!

by Scott Brindley

Really enjoy all your photographs and reading your blogg of what you have been up to. Keep them coming, I enjoy putting the kettle on, making a cuppa and then sitting and have a good read!!! Take care of each other! Love Sue xx xx p.s. David is touring through Europe at the moment with Ellie, they have been sending some brilliant photographs through, their weather is very warm at the moment. They have been to Rome, Tuscany, Milan, Basel in Switzerland, various parts of Germany. They will be heading to Madrid, Barcelona., Amsterdam, Paris and Provence before returning home at the end of August. David finished his second degree the week before he left so it will be all systems go in the job hunting department upon his return. Love to you all xx

by Sue Mooney

Hi Guys,
We are loving the photos and we miss u all sooooo much, hugs and kisses.
Got your postcard THANK YOU muah!!!!!!
Keep on having a great adventure and keep taking great pics and videos
Love you all
Hope to catch up with you all sometime this year :-)

by Kelly Marcus & Milana

Unrea!!!!l ....great pics! Enjoy guys :)

by Strawbs

Hi Ian & family. Nice to see all having the best time and still traveling. I'm currently in Lietchfield kicking back before heading down the west coast. When do you head west?

by Greg McBain

Happy and safe travelling guys. Nice picture at the rock. You can tell Bella loves animals from the look on her face while she pats scruffy the little camel. Ella and Evan happy to look on.

by prakashiyer

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