Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Mataranka NT


Postcode: 0852

Mataranka is a community of approximately 400, in the Top End region of Australia’s Northern Territory. The town is located approximately 420 km (260 mi.) southeast of the territorial capital, Darwin, and 107 km (66 mi.) south from Katherine. At the 2001 census, Mataranka had a population of 461.

The town is located near Roper River and Mataranka Hot Springs. This area is the setting for Jeannie Gunn’s autobiographical account of the year 1902 “We of the Never-Never”. The homestead, which she shared with her husband, Aeneas Gunn, until his death, has been reconstructed near to the hot springs.

The Mataranka Station is part of the Katherine Rural College of Charles Darwin University.

Natural thermal pools in nearby Elsey National Park have made the town a favoured rest stop. Travellers can enjoy the warm turquoise waters of these natural lagoons, that are said to have therapeutic value. If you have time to only visit one of these, Travelmate recommends Bitter Springs, about 2 km out of town, with its barbecues, tables and eco-friendly amenities.

Bitter Springs is a fantastically crystal clear, warm and natural spring. The river banks are lined with grasses and trees, spider webs and bird-life. You can swim 120 metres up stream past long rushes or float down the current on your back to watch rainbow bee-eaters fly, feed and perch in the tree-tops. There is a pleasant 1.5 km loop walk around the river area with interpretative signs explaining vegetation and the origins of the spring.

The Mataranka Thermal Pools are also part of the Elsey National Park and are wonderfully clear and warm. Signs at the nearby motel suggest that the best way to get to the pools is past their bar and kiosk area, but there is alternate entry through the car park. Sadly, the pools themselves have a rather ‘artificial’ feel and look more like a large designer pond than a natural wonder. The resident Little Red Flying Fox colony are intriguing to watch, particularly at dusk when the group leaves en masse to search for food. But like any wild creature, they do have an unpleasant smell.