"Elsey Thermal Pools and Mataranka Homestead Resort" Top 5 Page for this destination Mataranka by AlbuqRay

Mataranka Travel Guide: 57 reviews and 296 photos

Serendipity in Action

Before my trip to the 2010 VT Meet and Survivor Camp in 2010, I decided to fly into Darwin and use the Greyhound Croc Stopover Package to get from Darwin to Alice Springs. At 269 AUD, it was reasonably priced and included coach travel between Darwin and Alice Springs with 2 stops. One stop was optional and the other was an all inclusive stay at the Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge tent village for one night, including the shuttle to and from Katherine bus station, linen, bedding, pillow, dinner at the poolside kiosk or bistro, and a pancake breakfast. You have up to 14 days to complete the trip but I planned to do it in 4 days. Besides Katherine Gorge, I picked the Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort as my other overnight stop.

Everything would have been fine except that the bus departed Darwin at 13:40 instead of noon on 5 Aug 2010 because it was stuck behind another bus with mechanical problems at the maintenance facility. When I asked Clare, the Greyhound lady in Darwin, she thought that the Nitmiluk shuttle would wait for me. We arrived in Katherine at 17:40 instead of 16:10. The station was closed and no one was there from Nitmiluk Tours to pick me up. When I called them, they refused to pick me up in Katherine since the bus arrived 40 minutes after my scheduled pick up time, which was 17:00. The Nitmiluk Tours lady said that the late bus was a Greyhound problem and would have to be fixed by them. This was even after I had called Nitmiluk Tours from the USA before I left on my trip to confirm my stay with them. When I asked the bus driver, Wayne, what to do, he said to call the Brisbane Greyhound office. That was no help, so I decided to stay on the bus and go to Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort a day early. Fortunately they had plenty of vacancies and I got a room with no problem. All is well that ends well. The Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort turned out to be a really nice place to visit. I was glad to have an extra day there.

Rainbow Spring Thermal Pool

It is only about a 200 meter walk (two minutes) from the Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort to the Rainbow Spring and its adjacent Thermal Pool in Elsey National Park. It is a warm spring (34 C), not a hot spring. The Springs' natural, crystal clear waters are a beautiful place to take a dip. See also a videoclip.

Elsey Cemetery,Bitter Springs & Barramundi Feeding

After the VT meet in Alice Springs, I was lucky to get a ride back to Darwin with Zig (1+1), who is a ranger at Kakadu National Park. He recommended many places to stop as we went north on the Stuart Highway. In the Mataranka area on 25-26 Aug 2010, they included the original Elsey Homestead site, Elsey Cemetery, Bitter Springs and the Barramundi Feeding Show at the Territory Manor Motel and Caravan Park.

The Bitter Springs Thermal Pool on the Little Roper River is also in the Elsey National Park and not that far (~5 km) as the crow flies from the Rainbow Spring Thermal Pool on the Waterhouse River. However, they are ~12 km apart when driving via the Homestead Road, the Stuart Hwy through the town of Mataranka, and Martin Road. The Bitter Springs water is heated the same way as the Rainbow Spring water, i.e., by depth in the ground and not a "hot spot;" however, the sign at Bitter Springs says the water temperature there is 33 C.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful natural thermal pools & convenient resort
  • Cons:Remote locations and one unfriendly cook at resort
  • In a nutshell:Could easily spend 4-5 days in the Mataranka Area
  • Last visit to Mataranka: Aug 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (27)

Comments (1)

  • AngMimi's Profile Photo
    Jul 17, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Hi Ray, Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort a place to get away from the city, its so peaceful and would love to dip in the thermal pool as long no crocodile come to visit. Thanks for sharing :-)))


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