Did ya read that title like a right cockney geezer then? Who don mind a bit ‘o spring or autumn. Fing is when yers get ta Mataranka you take the first turn left and what have you ? A free kilometre road whats leads yer to a top little spot called Bitter Springs. (okay you can turn off the accent now) There are only two opportunities to turn left in Mataranka the first one takes you to Bitter Springs and the second takes you to Mataranka Thermal Pools. Both caravan parks are close to the springs but the Mataranka one is bigger, has a bloke called Mr Whippy performing his mastery of the stock whip to 80’s disco hits at a bar and has been completely rendered round the edges with stonework. However we forwent the glitz and crack for the more natural, lower key location of Bitter Springs, where there are a couple of sets of stairs and the waterway has been left to flow in its natural, spectacularly clear state.
The water is a pleasant 33 degrees. The idea is that you get your pool noodle (and goggles if you’re that way inclined [and I definitely lean thus]), and drop in at the upstream point then drift along the pandanus fringed creek to the downstream set of steps. Then you hop out and walk back along a concrete path to where you started and do it again. However this was no paradise lost, it was most definitely found, especially at this high season time of year. There were floating tourists of every domestic and international stripe. But ever’s the case with these amazing NT hotspots.
We had been given the inside info that, if you went early and were very quiet, you could spot turtles swimming. So we had two early mornings there and although we were never the first ones there, we arrived early enough to get a good look at them before the water got too clouded with clumps of algae kicked up by the many feet that passed through in a day.
We went to the Mataranka markets on Sunday and visited the other thermal pools just to compare. I threw a few lures about because there was supposed to be barramundi in the river (Little Roper) there, but I think by this stage in the dry season they had either been caught or died of boredom. The only thing I did catch was a pandanus tree that ate my best ‘anti snag’ lure.