Across the Top. Part 3. Savannah Way - King Ash Bay to Mataranka

Monday, May 04, 2015 at 11:38

Member - Chucklingwater

Section 3. King Ash Bay , Borroloola, Limmen National Park, Southern Lost City, Elsey National Park, Mataranka
We treated ourselves to Pizza night at Gropers Grill and very nice it was too. We saved ½ for next day.
Despite our fears, a new tyre was no problem at the “sell anything” mechanical shop, so I replenished my supply of duct tape too. I’d needed it to hold up the leg of the table.
Going West the Savannah Way deteriorated into the Limmen National Park. Looked for a place to camp in the back of the Troopy near a creek. What’s that funny smell? Oh, a wild pig cooked on an open fire and eaten some time ago. We moved away. Signs near all waterways re crocs. Flies are thick again around this area so back on with the nets! I had no idea my ExplorOz hat was to become my best friend on the trip, forget hubby!
Breakfast and pack up before the sun’s up if you can, to beat the flies. If there had been a “Wet” this year, and they haven’t had a good Wet for 3 years, this would be a really pretty drive. Beautiful red flowering gums, grasslands low ranges of pale dusky pink, duck egg blue grey, ochre yellow, charcoal, red, and creeks. The changing light brings changing colours. And we mustn’t forget the termite mounds up to 2+m high everywhere, red, charcoal, dun, brown, sometimes growing on the road. During the “Dry” low intensity fires are a regular part of savannah life and we passed through several of them. Wherever we are, Brolgas can be heard morning and evening even if not seen, their distinctive melodic haunting cries are music to the ears.
When the road last saw a grader is anyone’s guess. Grass and trees growing on it, serious wash outs, let alone all the minor ones, stones/rocks, corrugations, sand patches, bulldust. Some stretches of it aren’t too bad at all but others are bad news, very slow, so many dips and creeks that are gouged dips requiring 2nd or 3rd gear. We met a caravanner who bewailed it took him 6 hours to go 90 km in an off road van, oh dear.
Not to be missed is the Southern Lost City. Reportedly the Western Lost city is better but a key is needed from the ranger to access the gate. Reports also say first find ranger, I know we didn’t. Southern Lost City is spectacular, well worth the short side trip in to see it. Formed of sandstone cemented with silica then eroded.
Gradually the grass grew longer, the water crossings began to have trickles of water in them up to 35 cm deep. Silica glitters in the ground. Finally we made Roper but only the sign to the store not the Bar and assumed the bar was on the way out to Mataranka. Nup! Missed it. We didn’t realise it was on the road to Ngukurr, no sign saying Roper Bar that we could see. From here the road was excellent and even finally gave way to black top, wasn’t hubby pleased!
Elsey National Park Mataranka, “We of the Never Never” land. No flies! I’d never imagined it so lush, like an oasis. On the Roper River, Mataranka homestead (not town) is a replica built in 1981 for the film. A resort, and Mataranka Springs are at the same place. Springs a lovely, about 33c. Years ago Rainbow Spring stream was widened, ladders and seats put in so it’s quite nice. Water is so clear as it is in Bitter Springs. We watched the film over fish and chips at lunch, luxuriated in the spring, and went for a long walk. We stayed at Bitter Springs Caravan Park, nice and shady, next to those wonderful Bitter Springs. Pure magic to float downstream in the crystal clear warm water under fan and cabbage tree palms, paperbarks, gliding past waterlilies, watching tree reflections in the water, insects skimming above, waterlily growth below, birds singing. Wonderful!
One of the wallabies here is a bit too cheeky, coming right up to you and checking out your person for food, while some of the birds come to within a metre, food hunting. We’re having a few lays days here to catch up and get rid of some of that red dirt in our clothes, red dust covering our camper, car, everything we touch. Washing the first priority, even my ExplorOz hat was chucked into the washing machine and came out unscathed. Telstra mobile cover is touchy Internet cover even more so. Optus- forget it.
Mataranka itself is a whistle stop of necessities with large parkland for the large aboriginal population who like to sit on the grass under the trees. Sculptures of We of the Never Never and Mataranka has the Big Termite Mound.
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