Alice Springs – Banka Banka Station – Daly Waters – Mataranka
Kilometres 6127 - 7750 km
After our beautiful night under the stars to finish last week, we woke on Monday to our coldest morning for quite some time. The van thermometer said it was a very chilly 0deg, but as with every day so far the day quickly warmed to yet another beautiful day and after a few hours driving we were back in Alice Springs. Setting up camp in the van park our first priority was washing. We had red dust through everything and after our 4 loads I’m sure we’d clogged the pipes with all our dust n dirt.
|Back in Alice Springs|
As we were heading north on Thursday we spent our remaining day in Alice restocking the van. Our cupboards were desperately low, the gas and water needed to be refilled and of course there were happy hour supplies to think of. All this couldn’t happen without the kids visiting their favourite ice cream shop for one last time and me finding the 2 millionth published cache.
|Tropic of Capricorn - north of Alice Springs|
Thursday was moving day and we’d planned to cover a lot of distance so it was a very early start. Leaving Alice for the last time we both agreed that our time there had been most enjoyable. Once on the road we were quickly reminded of the sparse open areas and straight stretches of highway. At one point we stopped as we crossed the “Tropic of Capricorn” to show the kids. Regrettably our visit with an old Wollongong friend in Tennant Creek didn’t eventuate so we pushed onto a place called Banka Banka Station. Here we enjoyed a nights camping on a rural property, the kids quickly met the local farm kids and weren’t seen again till well after dark while Leonie and I both enjoyed sitting round the campfire.
|Dinner at Daly Waters pub|
Friday started a little slow for us, the kids had obviously worn themselves out the previous afternoon and opted for a bit of a sleep-in, but with more places to see we were soon packed up and on the road again. The roads were once again flat and boring but at least this time the vegetation had brightened a little. By early afternoon we’d reached Daly Waters and our stopover for the night. The local pub which is decorated all forms of paraphernalia rocks each night with live entertainment and a fantastic meal of “Beef n Barramundi” which we thoroughly enjoyed. To ensure the kids aren’t left out, the pub provides them with activity books where they have to find answers relating to various things around the beer garden. Once they get it all right they get free paddle pops.
|Entertainment at Daly Waters|
Saturday and Sunday would have to be the highlight of our long week of driving. We arrived at Mataranka just before lunchtime Saturday and quickly established camp. With the temperature nearing 30deg we headed straight for the natural spring. This oasis of warm crystal clear water shrouded by palm trees and tropical vegetation seems to appear from nowhere and looks like a scene from a jungle. With our pool noodles under our arm we were soon bathing in this tropical oasis. The Bitter Spring is a 200m section of thermal water that boils from underground at an average 34deg and with the current assisting you it makes a great way to relax and spend the afternoon.
|Bitter Springs - a great way to relax|
We thoroughly deserved our lazy Sunday morning around the van. With many others having checked out we seemed to have the place to ourselves. By late morning we headed across town to the Mataranka Spring where we once again bathed in the thermal waters which Mataranka is known for. Over the remaindered of the day we shared ourselves across the 2 thermal pools. It truly has been a relaxing way to finish the week.
As for the weather, we once again have been blessed with no rain. The cool nights of Alice Springs where we had the heater on some nights have given way to balmy days in Mataranka where yesterday we had the fan on to cool the van down.