Thursday, August 4, 2011

mataranka then & now.

The last time we were here at Mataranka was 13 years ago. We had no kids, we drove a combi, I wore toe rings, Indian dresses and child sized t'shirts and he had long dread locks right down his back.

I remember the look of the car park, I remember the smell of the forest and I remember walking straight past all the tourists bobbing around in the main thermal springs pool and hiking until we ended up all alone in a quiet swimming hole further up river.

I remember stripping our clothes off and spending hours alternating between swimming in the spring water and laying on the banks watching the turtles and the little fishies swimming below.

It was calm, we were at peace.

I remember being completely mesmerised by the turtles. They would swim around in the water and then paddle up for gulps of air.

It was like our own private oasis.

On Tuesday we returned to Mataranka. This time with three children, grown up sized bathers and high hopes for wondrous experiences swimming in the springs and admiring the wild life.

Friends had told us that our entire trip would make sense when we got to Mataranka. After a few weeks in the red, dusty desert we could hardly wait.

This time we saw the tourists in the first hole and made a quick decision to hike to the second. One and a half hot kilometers later we arrived at the second.

This time the pool was full and the current moving in and out of it was fast. This time we were terrified of crocs and the sludginess of the bank made peering into the water almost impossible. This time there was a couple fishing off the bank despite the fact that the sign said not to. This time we dipped our feet in, splashed water on our faces and headed back to the first.

This time, all grown up with a family of our own, the first touristy pool was/is perfect. Warm and safe and fun. This time we've spent hours in there swimming and chatting and bobbing around with the other couples and families and kids.

This time the family of seven in matching speedos, the couple who have been here 13 times in the last 23 years, the woman with the pearl encrusted head band, the teachers from Ballarat, the couple with the birthday three year old, the girls with M names and all the other people we've met have all added to our experience. We've shared memories, travel stories and tips, birthday celebrations and a good laugh.

And the turtles.

Last night, a bit after bed time, Indi and Jazzy and I turned on our torches and went into the bush to find the river. We were absolutely terrified and squeezed each other tightly, threatening to go turn back right until the end. But then we shone our torches on the water just below us and had the best show we've ever seen. Families of turtles of all shapes and sizes swimming around, paddling up for air and performing.

It was incredible. And we were all alone.

We all agreed, turtles are our favourite animal.

We are loving it here. It is hot, there are kangaroos and peacocks roaming around and there is a heated spring fed pool at the edge of the park. Every time we tell a story about last time the girls laugh and ask if we were naked. We've just booked for another two nights.

Mataranka is different this time, but then so are we.


  1. What an amazing post Kate, how great to have old memories and make new ones with your kids! Looks very inviting! Loving reading your travel stories...thanks x

  2. Kate - these posts of yours just keep getting better and better.

    What a journey you are on.


  3. Lol! Well were you naked?? Sounds to me like you were! :) And I reckon you still wear toe rings. Or did they come off sometime around when your feet swelled up in your first pregnancy and just never made it back on? Maybe it's time to buy a new toe ring!

  4. You are a sweetie :-)
    So glad its just as magical this time, with your clothes on ;-)

  5. Lovely Story, I have never been there, but, I definately want to go. What a great experience with the turtles - they probably liked the company :)

  6. A beautiful post Kate. Life then and now. Though sometime you must post a pic of Farmer Bren's dreadlocks.

    I need to go and look at a map and find out where you are. I got lost after that big rock in the middle of nowhere ;)


  7. This is just the most beautiful story... not just of where you went but memories and growing up and change. Just gorgeous, Kate :) Glad you're having a great time. Kx

  8. Gosh I love the sound of that turtle experience! Bill would so love that too. Loved reading about then & now, so beautifully written. Rosie asked me today if you were still 'adventuring', I'll tell her a big YES! xo

  9. Oh that all looks & sounds amazing, what a fantastic experience...

  10. What a beautiful place :D And aren't turtles just the most incredible creatures! Have you read Russell Hoban's The Turtle Diaries? It's about people on a different kind of journey, and turtles too of course ... highly recommended.(There's a good review here:

  11. I loved reading this post near had a tear in my eye from the
    last sentence xxx

  12. How nice is it to wash off that red dirt. Heavenly!
    Have a soak for me.
    Ab x

  13. Oh, this is my favourite travel post of yours yet Kate! So glad you're enjoying yourselves!


  14. Wow didn't even know this place existed. Wonderful!

  15. i remember swimming at mataranka when i was a kid with my mum and my brother, on the way to darwin. it was magical to me then. i haven't been back in about twenty years, but i still remember the pools, and the path and the park. and how we meet one of our next door neighbours from alice there on our last day. and how amazed i was that they were there TOO. glad to hear there is a new generation of kids enjoying it :) have fun in the nt! it is a special place

  16. What a beautiful and moving post Kate.
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  17. I know I have said it before ... I am so envious!!

  18. what an extradinary post Kate, and what thing to experience this same place twice but in two different life times in a way.
    The turtle sound just beyond special, im planning my trip now.
    great choice of favourite animal too, I'm a big fan of turtles ( and turtle cats)
    big love xoxo

  19. Sounds perfect Kate - loving your aventures - I've swum in those pools too - brings back lovely memories.

  20. Sounds wonderful, then and now! One day your girls might be sharing all of these memories as they do the journey again with their own children. Imagine!

  21. Kate, I am loving your posts from this trip. They make me laugh and smile and sometimes cry. Keep on having all of these experiences.

  22. Yea! So exciting to see how change can be so fabulously wonderful!

  23. Remembering and creating new ones. LOL at the girls:) enjoy the next two days there.

  24. Kate your holiday is sounding fantastic!! I think we should see some photos from the old days when you get back ;-)

  25. fantastic post kate. i'm not sure but i think a little tear might have popped out onto my cheek. your posts are going to be my very own personal tour guide. thanks. Read my email and DO IT Now (pretty please with a cherry on top)

  26. Oh...what I wouldn't give to be in that water!! matching spedo's in your house eh?


  27. I think Pepper needs a crocehted bikini!
    beautifully written - the water looks divine. x

  28. Wow what wonderful experiences you have all had, including the ones before your family. The turtles sound wonderful to watch. Hope your enjoying the warm weather as it is absolutely icy in Melbourne today.

  29. What a great experience! A lot of things seems different after a few years but sometimes just as good. Just different.
    Great post, I love to read them.

  30. Hi Kate, this post is PERFECT! I love it! What a gorgeous spot to be, enjoy your travels...

  31. Hi again...I have just read through your posts from the start of your trip and I have been in lah lah have inspired me to stop thinking about our dream 'ending up wherever' trip and just start planning! I did Australia in my early 20's and would love to share some of my favourite spots (most of those were north) with my kids. If you go past Pardoo station in N.T do stop is great! Also Coral Bay in W.A if you are over that way too...and Monkey Mia...amazing place!!!! I'm glad you are blogging on the road...thanks for sharing!

  32. Gadzooks so much beauty in this wide brown land. Incredible and magical posts and memories for your little Darlings! Thank YOU so much Kate for the beautiful posts ... you're a sweetheart. ♥♥♥♥♥

  33. Love how you are appreciating things change, as do you!! I think i told you about my trip to Mataranka where i was pregnant & about to dip in the water when a Contiki tour bus rocked up, it put me right off & i don't think that feeling will ever change. Enjoy Katherine, i got stung by a wasp in a public toilet there, i came out screaming (i'm allergic) dancing around in a sarong while my husband tried to unravel me, happy memories!! Love Posie

  34. What an amazing place and I had never heard about it before so thankyou for sharing. So lovely to hear you making history their with your girls too. melx

  35. Imagine what Kate and Bren Before would say if they could see you now. 'We did it!!" I bet that's what they'd say. And they did. So so beautifully. xx

  36. Oh how I love Mataranka! I spent the most beautiful week there with my grandparents when I was about fifteen. I have been dreaming of going back ever since. Have you taken your girls out the the old Elsie homestead site, where We of the Never, Never is set? A must see and a must read! xx

  37. Such a touching post ...what special memories being created- going back to places we remember fondly as the younger us.

  38. Beautifully written post... and I so get what you mean as I am someone who was a traveller and who is now a family holidayer with 3 kids. Keep up the great posts... just as long as they don't keep you away from your family for too long.

  39. Oh Kate, I love reading these posts. They are so hopeful, and light, and I'm living vicariously through your trip. It sounds amazing, and I love that your blogging it. I'm so glad I can come along for the ride. I love the details, the washing, the elephant pyjamas. The everything. Brilliant. x

  40. Turtles are one of my favourite animals too. So very special.

    Different is good isn't it? Sometimes I long for how it was... but then I realise that I wouldn't have how it is now any other way. I can enjoy the past even more when I love the moment I am in.

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