Monday, 6 June 2016

Half-lap Day 32: Mataranka

Originally we had planned a 1 night stay in Mataranka, but with everyone being so hot and tired, and the springs being so beautiful, we decided to stay a 2nd night and have a bit more time to relax. It was lovely to have a slower morning, to eat breakfast at a leisurely pace and be able to play some games and chat while we got a bit organised.

We went to see a Barramundi fish feeding at 9.30. We arrived a bit late, but still in time for each of the kids to grab a salmon to feed to the barra. They were able to stand in ankle deep water and hold the fish out at water level, and the barramundi swim up to grab it. LiAM’s fish was eaten immediately, Caitlin’s took a bit longer, and Millie got Tony to come in with her and help her feed.

From there we went back to Bitter Springs for a proper swim. The water was so clear and a lovely temperature, and we floated down with the current a few times – so great drifting past trees and over all the green plants under the water. The walk back to the starting pool was a bit hard on the feet, quite rocky in places. Some people took their thongs down with them but our shoes aren’t really the best when they are wet so we braved the rocks a couple of times.

We all floated down the first time, then I went with the kids while Tony hung out in the main pool. Millie used her floaty ring to help float, the rest of us paddled and floated without any floatation devices. I tried to use our underwater camera but the battery went flat after 1 photo. After a bit more of a swim I was happy to get out and take some photos, so I took Tony’s shoes down to the exit platform and he floated down one more time with the kids. It was funny, when he went to put his shoes on we all thought I’d picked up the wrong shoes – we thought that they had blue or grey on them but these shoes were all brown. They felt like his shoes when he put them on, and I’d picked them up from our pile of stuff; there were no stray shoes at the springs when we got back there – the red dirt has obviously got into them (like it has with everything else) and changed the colour a bit.

We had a picnic lunch on the tables near the carpark, then went back to Territory Manor for another fish feeding. While we were waiting for it to start we saw a Merten’s Water Monitor and 2 brolgas. LiAM went first and the fish didn’t come up for ages – he ended up letting someone else have a go and then going back to feed his sardine to the barramundi. We met up with Millie’s friend there and the kids played and chatted, before we all headed to Mataranka Homestead for another swim. We detoured via our camp to get the snorkels – they would have been fantastic at Bitter Springs but we had forgotten to bring them, they weren’t as useful at Mataranka but still fun.

We swam for a couple of hours, playing with Millie’s friend and her family, and a couple of other families as well. The kids had races on their noodles and played lots of other games, and the parents chatted and joined in the races and lazed about in the pool .

LiAM and Millie and went for a walk to see the river, downstream from the springs, where the spring flows into the river. I love the colour of the rivers here, an olive green, it looks lush and peaceful and refreshing. We looked for crocodiles but didn’t see any – just a croc trap across from the platform we were standing on. On our way back to the car we all (our family and Millie’s friend’s family) went and looked at Rainbow Spring, which is where the water actually comes up out of the ground, was cool to see it bubbling up and then flowing off towards the river.  At the carpark the 2 families had a wander through the house that was used in the movie of We Of The Never Never, a replica of the house the author lived in. It was small, only 2 rooms, with a massive verandah around the whole thing.

After some extended goodbyes we finally headed back to camp, driving down to the boat ramp at the campground to see the river close to us. Again it was cool and peaceful and free of crocodiles (although swimming was closed because they were in there somewhere). Caitlin and I got out to walk back and spent a bit of time watching the river, then wandered on a few tracks back to our tent. Some of the rocks in the river looked like crocodile heads – I’m always impressed at how the landscape can look like the local wildlife, the Northern Territory is the place where that is most obvious.  Caitlin and Tony went for a bike ride around the area and got a little lost, they found their way back ok though, without having to cross the waterway that they discovered.

We had rissoles for tea, and discovered that the area was home to lots of spiders that camoflauged really well into the ground, even with a light shone straight on them, but they have a reflective part on them somewhere that shines like a diamond in direct light. We could see them from many metres away, little tiny shiny lights in the dark, and when we got up close we would find a spider almost hidden in the leaves.

We packed up as much as we could in preparation for an earlyish start the next morning, then went to bed to read for a while and listen to the donkeys.

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