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Mataranka

Travel NT Information Destination Guide

Northern Territory, Australia Travel

Mataranka
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The township of Mataranka is located on the upper reaches of the Roper River, about 106 km south east of Katherine in the Northern Territory. Mataranka is a popular tourist stop, part of the Explorer’s Way tourist drive, on the main route that connects Adelaide and Darwin.

With a number of attractions, the most popular being the thermal pools, a sandy-bottomed lagoon fringed by palms, Mataranka other claim to fame is as the ‘Capital of the Never Never’.

The area becoming famous when Mrs Aeneas Gunn wrote her book ‘We of the Never Never’ (which was originally published in 1908). The book talks about her time as the wife of the manager of Elsey Station.

Indeed, the history of old Elsey Station can be found in the ‘Never Never’ cemetery, 21 km south of the town, just near the site of the homestead where Mrs Aeneas Gunn (sometimes referred to as Jeannie Gunn, although Jeannie Taylor was the name she was born with) experienced her ‘Never Never’ that led to her writing her book. The cemetery marks the final resting place of many of the characters in the book.

She described this area as

‘A land that bewitches her people with strange spells and mysteries until they call sweet bitter and bitter sweet. We who have lived in it and loved it know that our hearts can never rest away from it’

Check out our range of listed Mataranka accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Katherine Region Tourist Association

Darwin Region Tourism Association

Northern Territory Visitors Centre

Mataranka Attractions

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Mataranka Thermal Pool
A dip in the crystal warm waters is a must at the Thermal Pool at Mataranka Homestead. This sandy bottomed pool is surrounded by palms, and at a constant 34°C, the water comes from Rainbow Springs at an amazing 30.5 million litres a day.

The area around the pool is also a natural breeding ground for the Little Red Flying Fox. The breeding season is during the tropical summer, however the season can extend beyond this. The chattering of the flying fox colonies along the banks of the Roper River all add to the the tropical charm of the location.
Bitter Springs
Located about 2 km from Mataranka, Bitter Springs is part of Elsey National Park. A short walk from the car park weaves it way under fan palms and tropical woodlands that lead to the main swimming area. You can appreciate the whole area with a short walk that takes you around the whole pool, providing signage with information and the vegetation of the local area. There are picnic benches, BBQs and toilet facilities. For more information, download the NT Parks and Wildlife fact sheet.
Elsey Memorial Cemetery
The history of old Elsey Station can be found in the ‘Never Never’ cemetery, 21 km south of the town. Located near the site of the homestead where Mrs Aeneas Gunn experienced her ‘Never Never’ that led to her writing her book, the cemetery contain the graves of a number of outback pioneers, marking the final resting place of many of the characters from her book.
We of The Never Never Museum
• 120 Roper Terrace, MATARANKA NT 0852 • Ph: 08 8975 4576 • Fax: 08 8975 4906 • Email
Explore Mataranka’s pioneering heritage through the outdoor displays that include the railway history, the Overland Telegraph Line, a bush workshop, military history and regional industrial archaeology. There is also a photo gallery chronicling Mataranka’s involvement in World War II, early history and local identities.
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Mataranka Events

Northern Territory Events
Back to the Never Never Festival
• The events are held at various locations in Mataranka.
• Held over three days in May
Annual event with a variety of equestrian events that include a gymkhana, polocrosse matches and a rodeo. The rodeo is held on the Saturday afternoon and night, followed by live entertainment. The famous Bushman's Breakfast is available for all on the Sunday morning.
Mataranka Bushman’s Carnival
• Usually held over the first weekend in August
A not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to promote the sport of rodeo, campdrafting, cutting and gymkhana in the Roper region. Riders all compete for great prizes and the title of ‘Bushman’s Carnival Champion Rider’. This premier event is also a fund raiser to enable the members to carry out the aims of the organisation.
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Mataranka Tours

NT ToursOutbackEcoAdventureNational Tours
Barramundi Feeding Territory Manor
• Stuart Hwy, MATARANKA NT
• Ph: 08 8975 4516 • Fax: 08 8975 4612 • Email
Within the grounds of the Territory Manor there is a barramundi fish feeding tour. See the fish being feed by hand and hear how they live and breed in the Top End rivers and oceans.

Barramundi Fish Feeding Shows: 9:30 am and 1:00 pm.
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Mataranka Distance

Distance to Mataranka
• Following are some approximate distances by road to Mataranka:
  Km
Alice Springs 1,075
Darwin 423
Katherine 106
  Km
Kakadu National Park 444
Tennant Creek 564
Wycliffe Well 694
Distances given are only approximation, they should be verified with the appropriate maps.
The Australian Automotive Motoring Associations also offer select access to travel trip planners.

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Mataranka Other links

Mataranka Community Government Council
• Ph: 08 8975 4576 • Email
Includes some tourism information about Mataranka and region.
Katherine Region Tourist Association
• Ph: 08 8972 3247 • Email
The peak industry association for the Katherine Region.
 
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