The small town of Mataranka, south of Katherine, is renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool, pastoral history and as a welcomed stop with tourers. The area was made famous by the novel We of the Never Never – a book written about nearby Elsey Station by Jeannie Gunn.
Sights and souvenirs
Spend some time looking around the Mataranka township. Browse the Stockyard Gallery’s exhibit of local Aboriginal art from the Mataranka and Roper River areas. Pick up a didgeridoo, postcard, whip or spear and enjoy a homemade iced coffee and a scone in the cafe’s garden.
See the fish being fed, witness the spectacle of enormous barramundi being plucked from a billabong, and learn how the fish live, change sex and breed on the twice-daily tours at Territory Manor.
Wander through the Never Never Museum to learn about this country’s traditional Aboriginal custodians, the Mangarayi and Yangman people. There are also displays about the region and the North Australian Railway, the Overland Telegraph Line construction and World War II.
At the Elsey Homestead Replica you will start to understand that life was isolated and hard for early settlers. The building is a reconstruction of the original homestead and was built for the 1980s film adaptation of the novel We of the Never Never. Every detail of the homestead was faithfully replicated, down to the hand-hewn local cypress pine.
Learn about the region’s WWII history at Larrimah, south of Mataranka. The historic outpost was established in 1940 to service the nearby Gorrie Airfield during the war. Look through photographs and interpretive signage at the Military Transport Museum.