14 May—16 May 2002
We packed up at Elsey National Park this morning. This was hard work in the intense heat. We drove into Mataranka for ice, and then to Bitter Springs. This was a real treat. This spring is a small stream winding through the bush, fed by hot springs, just like the hot spring at the resort. Again, the water was crystal clear, but the underwater environment was an other-worldly landscape of dead trees draped with outlandish mosses of iridescent greens and blues. It’s the loveliest thing I’ve seen since the jungles of Guatemala. I spent ages diving beneath the logs and into the little caves formed by the overhanging bank. Huge Orb Weavers wove intricate webs above the water’s surface, and lay in wait for insects. You had to be a bit careful where you came up for air!
We drove back into the township of Mataranka and ate some huge and somewhat indigestible meat pies in the shade of a large wattle tree in the town park. After a toilet stop, we drove an easy 105 km to Katherine, where we refuelled and set up camp in a manicured but well-serviced caravan park where I am writing now. The kids went for a swim in the ample pool whilst Susie cooked sausages and I did two loads of washing. Since we can get mobile phone coverage here, we rang Annabelle Lukin and Maureen and Dick Cornish, and also my parents. Mum gave us the name of a nine-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker in Curtin Detention Centre near Derby. Maybe we will have the opportunity to visit her on our way through Western Australia.
We posted the Aboriginal painting home today. I hope it arrives safely. Tomorrow we visit Katherine gorge.