Mataranka is located 405km southeast of Darwin along the Stuart Highway. This charming Top End town has been labeled “Capital of the Never Never” being the geographical basis of the Australian classic novel “We of the Never Never” written by Jeannie Gunn in the early 1900’s.
Jeannie and Aeneas Gunn worked the pastoral land at Elsey Station in the harsh Australian outback in early times. Aeneas passed away from malarial dysentery only a year after their arrival in the area. After his death Jeannie composed her famous novel based on her experiences at Elsey Station and in the Australian wilderness. Elsey Homestead Replica was constructed in 1981 for the movie “We of the Never Never” based on Gunn’s book. The homestead replica is located south of town near the thermal pool and is of great historical significance and interest.
The soothing thermal pool is undoubtedly the town’s main 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. Camping is available close by at the Homestead with bar, bistro and kiosk facilities. Note the thermal pool is part of Elsey National Park.
Elsey National Park is accessed south of town 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. Fishing is permitted in the park however bag limits apply and spears, nets and traps are prohibited.
The Elsey Cemetery is 21km south of town. In the grounds of this historical graveyard rest many of Jeannie Gunn’s old acquaintances characterized in her book “We of the Never Never.” Jeannie’s husband Aeneas Gunn also rests here and a memorial plaque dedicated to Jeannie sits near his grave.
The Capital of the Never Never
is a beautiful area to visit. Rich in history and scenery, Mataranka is a delightful stopover when exploring the Territory.
Note there is only one camping ground at the Homestead near the Thermal Pool. Alternatively a free 24 hour rest area is located 60km north of town near the King River. The area is quite large with flat ground suitable for caravans, pit toilets are provided and dogs are permitted.
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Destinations in the Northern Territory
Elsey National Park
Return from Mataranka to Northern Territory