Rent a car with Gecko Car Hire Darwin and travel 120km south of Katherine along the Stuart Highway and you’ll soon come across Elsey National Park. This national park is on the smaller side when compared with the other parks across the Northern Territory but it sure won’t disappoint the traveller looking for somewhere to stop and explore.
If you’ve ever wanted to test the benefits of swimming in thermal springs, Elsey National Park is the place to do it. The Mataranka Thermal Pool is well known for its healing benefits where you can lay back under the shade of the pandanus, paperbark and palm forest. The pool is spring fed and sits at 34 degrees year-round.
The nearby Bitter Springs is surrounded by palms and tropical woodlands. Laze back in the 33-degree temperature of this thermal pool while you keep an eye out for the native wild and birdlife that are attracted to the area.
Need to cool off? Stevie’s Hole, found a little further along the Waterhouse River, isn’t warmed by the springs and is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day.
We of the Never Never
There is a little bit of fame in the history of the Elsey National Park. The park was named after the cattle station that was prominent in Jeannie Gunn’s “We of the Never Never”. The film adaptation of the book was shot nearby, and you can wander around the Old Elsey Cemetery where graves date back to 1926. A replica homestead is also located nearby, where you can find out more about the novel, the film and the original homestead itself.
Fishing & Boating
If you’ve been bringing your boat and fishing gear along on your Northern Territory adventure, the Roper River is popular with those looking to explore the area and find the perfect fishing hole. You’ll find boat ramps at 4 Mile and 12 Mile where you can launch your boat or canoe for the day.
Like many places in the Top End there are historical sites everywhere, both Indigenous and European. Around Elsey National Park, you’ll find historical sites including the Old Sheep Dip, 12 Mile Yards and the World War II Aboriginal Army Camp walk.
There are a few great walking trails around Elsey National Park catering to almost everyone. The Mataranka Thermal Pool is a short walk for those who’ve just stopped in for a break, while a little further down the track is the Botanic Walk. This walk will take you along the Roper River up to 12 Mile Yards, and link in with several smaller loop walks for you to discover. The full walk to 12 Mile Yards is approximately 8km.
The Mataranka Falls walk follows the Roper River and is a pleasant 4km walk through the bush. You’ll certainly hear the falls before you see them.
If you are travelling through the Northern Territory, make time to stop a while at Elsey National Park. Discover the history and relax in the thermal pools before you go on your way.