Elsey National Park
Elsey National Park is located just south of Mataranka off the Stuart Highway. This small park flanks part of the Roper River and features crystal clear thermal pools, woodland walks and palm fringed river banks.
Bitter Springs is accessed separately to the rest of the park via Martin Road in the town centre. A short walk through woodlands finds these clear 33 degree springs suitable for swimming and snorkelling in. The current flows through the main pool and downstream to a viewing bridge (also accessed by walkway) over the springs and confident swimmers can float their way around and exit via a vertical ladder. These inviting springs are very enjoyable and one of the highlights of the park. Toilets, gas barbeques and picnic facilities are located here.
The rest of Elsey National Park is accessed 1.5km south of town. Mataranka Thermal Pool is undoubtedly the park’s most popular attraction. The crystal clear water remains at a constant 34 degrees celsius and is absolutely beautiful. Set amongst palms and pandanus trees, this picturesque pool is a fabulous swimming area and very popular. The pool is accessed by a 200 metre boardwalk through tropical woodland which continues on a loop walk to Rainbow Springs, the source of the thermal pool. Camping is available close by at Mataranka Homestead with bar, bistro and kiosk facilities.
The aforementioned thermal pools are one of the national park’s main features. The other is the Roper River which meanders through Elsey where the Little Roper and Waterhouse rivers meet the Roper. A 16km walking track begins at Mataranka Thermal Pool and follows the river to Korowan (Mataranka Falls). The Riverside Walk is broken into several sections and can be accessed at various points of interest along John Hauser Drive.
The 4 Mile on the Roper River is accessible to boating enthusiasts with a launching ramp, but note outboard motors are restricted to 15 horsepower only on the river. Barramundi fishing is a popular activity on the Roper and size, bag and possession limits apply (ie. Barramundi minimum length is 55cm and 5 Barramundi caught per day or in possession at any time). Canoeing and swimming are also permitted at the 4 Mile as crocodile traps are set after the wet season to capture any Saltwater Crocodiles which may have entered the area. Swimming is entirely at your own risk and before doing so make sure the river has been declared open for swimming. Toilets are located here.
Wabalarr is a picturesque part of the Roper River with many palms and pandanus trees lining the banks. This section of the river is good for land based Barramundi fishing and canoeing and swimming are permitted during the dry season after crocodile surveys have been conducted.
Mulurark is where the river forms a series of cascades over flat rock in the river bed. Again swimming is permitted after crocodile surveys have been performed and the safest spot is below the rapids in the calmest water. A sandy area borders part of the river’s edge for easy access and relaxing on. Toilet located here.
Jalmurark Camping Area is the only place camping is permitted in Elsey National Park. The camping area is spacious with designated areas and toilet and showers are provided. Camping fees apply. Note a pontoon is permanently on the river here for swimmers to use when the river is declared open. Jalmurark is also the only access point to Korowan (Mataranka Falls) which is a small set of cascades on the Roper River and is accessed by a 4.1km walk following the course of the river.
The 12 Mile
sports the best boat ramp in the park which is readily accessible for small boats and canoes. This section of the Roper River is good for Barramundi fishing however note that fishing tackle is restricted to rods and hand lines only.
Elsey’s freshwater pools and winding river bed make a fabulous place for water activities, whether it be soaking in the warm springs, flicking a line from a boat or the bank, cooling off in the cascading waterholes or canoeing down the river amongst the dense palm trees.
It can’t be stressed enough that freshwater rivers are susceptible to Saltwater Crocodiles moving into the area undetected and swimmers need to adhere to warning signs and do not enter the waterways if unsure of the current situation. Note Freshwater Crocodiles do inhabit this area and are harmless to humans unless provoked. Entry is always at own risk!
Note dogs are prohibited in the national park as are fishing nets, spears and traps.
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Destinations in the Northern Territory
Elsey National Park
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