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Connection to country

Mataranka is the traditional country of the Mangarayi and Yangman Aboriginal people. Some of their artwork can be seen in the Stockyard Gallery in the township. Mataranka is known as the ‘Capital of the Never Never’. This area was home to Aeneas and Jeannie Gunn. Jeannie wrote the famous book about Elsey Station titled ‘We of the Never Never’ which is now part of Australia’s folklore. A visit to the station cemetery and the homestead replica helps capture the sense of isolation and hardship confronting these early settlers. Today, Mataranka is a modern town with all the facilities a visitor expects. A full range of accommodation, facilities, experiences and attractions means a two or three day stay is needed for this stop off along Explorer’s Way. While in town, visit the historic Mataranka Hotel, the Museum and the giant Termite Mound at Stan Martin Park – where many of the characters from the book and film ‘We of the Never Never’ can be seen. The thermal pool in Mataranka has lush palms and crystal clean 34°C waters, offers a beautiful pool that has been an icon for visitors for many years. The environmental walk and swimming at Bitter Springs Thermal Pool is a relaxing experience. Birdwatching is popular with red goshawk, hooded parrott and northern rosellas seen in the area.

History and WWII

Elsey Cemetery
21 kilometres south of Mataranka, gravestones mark the resting place of many of the characters written about in Jeannie Gunn’s book ‘We of the Never Never’. Follow the signs from the Stuart Hwy.

Elsey Homestead Replica
Located at the Mataranka Homestead, this is an authentic copy of the original hand-hewn cypress pine homestead. It was constructed for the film ‘We of the Never Never’ and now displays historic information and artefacts. During the dry season, the film is shown at the homestead for visitors.

The Never Never Museum
Located behind the Shire Delivery Centre of RoperGulf Council Chambers in the centre of town, this museum displays information on Aboriginal history, the North Australian Railway, Overland Telegraph Line construction and WWII. The keys are available from the Rural Transaction Centre.

Adventure the way you want it
Bitter Springs
This tropical spring-fed and mineral-rich thermal pool is only two kilometres from Mataranka. A short walk from the car park amongst palm sand tropical woodlands will lead you to the main
swimming area. A short walk takes you around the whole pool and informative signage explains the formation and vegetation of the local area. Toilet facilities, picnic benches and barbecues are available.

Mataranka Thermal Pool
A short walk brings you to this sandy bottomed pool surrounded by palms. A constant 34° Celsius, it flows from Rainbow Springs at an amazing 30.5 million litres each day. The area around the pool is a natural breeding ground for the Little Red Flying Fox. Usually, breeding season is during the Top End Summer, however, it can extend beyond this. The chattering of these flying fox colonies along the banks of the Roper River adds tropical charm to the palm-fringed crystal-clear pools. The turn off is 1.5 kilometres south of Mataranka.

The Termite Mound
In the centre of town is the world’s largest manmade termite mound, where an audio recording provides some interesting facts on these fascinating natural features.

Roper River
This is one of the world’s truly great rivers. The headwaters at Mataranka have crystal clear springs flowing into it all year and are the starting point for a 250km journey east to the sea. The river travels through the largest stand of Livistonia Rigida palms in the world and its beautiful emerald green waters are home to the famous barramundi. The river flows through Elsey National Park – launch your own boat at the 4 mile or 12 Mile Yards (maximum 15 horse power outboard) and catch barramundi. There are some great bushwalks in the national park. A moderate 8km return walk to Mataranka Falls (Korowan) takes you down the Roper River to the tufa dams that traverse it and form gentle rapids. Alternatively, take a picnic basket and enjoy the solitude of Stevie’s Hole, a short 1.2km walk from Mataranka Homestead.


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