11 May—12 May 2002
As we left Tenant Creek we re-fuelled, bought some more ice, and headed north on the Stuart Highway, stopping at the Old Telegraph Station north of town.
We were hoping to reach Mataranka by nightfall, but this proved to be too ambitious so we pulled in for the night at Daly Waters. The pub was very colourful and charged only $10 per night for a campsite. We had a few beers to celebrate Susie’s birthday, and ate barbequed barramundi and salad for dinner.
The next morning the kids went for a swim in the pool by the pub while Susie and I packed up. Then we resumed our northward journey to Mataranka.
At Mataranka we chose a campsite in Elsey National Park. Camper trailers were not permitted there so we pitched the tent, had lunch, and then drove down the road to the famous thermal springs. This was a bit like taking a warm bath with a bunch of other tourists but our swimming goggles made the outing a special one. The water was crystal clear and we were able to catch small freshwater turtles in our bare hands. The kids really enjoyed this. Ruby spotted a large turtle that quickly made itself scarce.
We returned to camp just on dusk after narrowly missing a few kangaroos on the road back to the national park. This is a very inexpensive campsite, and possibly the quietest place we have camped. Susie and I stayed up a while and I tinkled on the guitar. During the night you could hear the wild donkeys braying down the river. I can hear them now as I write.