(written by Nancy)
Thankfully the crocodiles did not escape from their cages overnight as we were the easiest targets in the caravan park – we survived the night. Actually slept pretty good. Last night we met these two very funny guys (one who’s nickname was Porkie) who were travelling together up to Darwin – they were giving each other a good ribbing, particularly over some corned beef that one Porkie had brought with him all the way from Adelaide that they were eating for dinner. This morning they were back at it in the kitchen before 7, eating their corned beef on toast for brekkie. They offered some to us but we declined and stuck with the oatmeal as I am not sure the corned beef had been refrigerated since Porkie left Adelaide 5 days ago.
We made a quick stop at Fran’s on the way out to pick up some scones for later in the day. She was busy cooking already – she is quite a character. We rode steady until a rest area at about 45k where we ate our sandwiches and talked to several of the caravanners that were parked there. We dragged ourselves back out on the road and passed by Warloch Ponds – quite a pretty wetland area and more what we thought NT might look like. Perhaps we will see more of this type of landscape as we get closer to Darwin.
We are starting to see some big termite mounds now and you can generally see termite mounds of all sizes along the roadway and back into the bush. There seems to be a practice of prescriptive burning along the highway which I am sure helps reduce large bushfires but it makes for a slightly unattractive roadside. I am not sure what happens to the termites when the fires go through – perhaps those massive mounds protect them from the heat.
We think there were V8 supercar races in Darwin over the weekend, as we have seen numerous trucks heading south from Darwin with all the advertising for V8 racecars, plus a few racecars on trucks as well. We finally got a photo today for our buddy Ross.
We made it into Mataranka about 1:30 and stopped at the small grocery store to get something to eat while we figured out where to stay. There are three caravan parks in the area – one is quite a ways from town (~11k or so), which is a bit too far from town if we want to make it a rest day tomorrow. The other two are close to town. We ended up at the Territory Manor, which has a hotel and caravan park with a decent camp kitchen, as well as a restaurant. It seems like a nice place so we will make tomorrow a rest day here. There are brolgas here wandering around, as well as peacocks – seem to be the birds of choice for caravan parks as we head north. There is also a large pond here with lots of waterlillies and apparently some pretty big barramundi – you can watch them feed the fish twice a day. They serve barramundi in the restaurant so perhaps this is their way of controlling the supply chain.
The Mataranka area is the setting for a relatively well-known autobiographical account of a woman’s year on an outback station in 1902 called ‘We of the Never Never’ and there is a museum in town focused on it that I am sure would be interesting to see. There is even a cafe so perhaps we could even be civilised and have lunch out on our day off… his place is about 2k from the thermal springs so the plan is to ride there tomorrow to check them out for a bit as well. We already have a load of laundry done so tomorrow should be an easy day, though we do need to do some planning for the rest of the trip up to Darwin. More on that later…