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Visit Mataranka and the Elsey National Park in Australia's Northern Territory

By Edited Oct 18, 2016 1 2

Travel through the Australian North West

When you travel through Australia's Northern Territory make sure you stop at Mataranka. We missed this town on our first trip around Australia, therefore we made a point of stopping this trip.

Mataranka is a small friendly community. If you travel from Darwin, then it is less than 450 km South East on the Stuart Highway, and 170 km North of Daly Waters. Mataranka is near the Roper River and their beautiful Hot Springs.

During WWll the Australian Army set up a Camp Hospital near the town-ship of Mataranka, which was serviced by the railway. According to history, many army personnel spent time training in this area and around the Northern territory during this war.

Main Tourist Attractions

Many tourists enjoy swimming at the Bitter and Rainbow thermal Springs. The temperature of the water flowing through these is a stable 32 degree C. The town folk using this water, do not have hot water systems as the water temperature never changes.  The disadvantage being that you never have access to cold water in any household taps.

A word of caution: Because the thermal water is always hot, you have to avoid scratching yourself on the rocks in any thermal springs as the wound could become infected. While there, we heard about a man being hospitalized with a very life threatening infection as a result of an infection, therefore use caution when swimming. Apart from that risk, relax and enjoy a swim in this beautiful warm water.

Other attractions

  • Feeding the Barramundi 
  • The Flying Fox habitat
  • Hire canoes and enjoy fishing
  • Replica of the Elsey Homestead
  • Enjoy walking through the bush looking at the wildlife
  • Watch out for crocodiles  


Travel:Main Street of Australias Mataranka

Book: We of the Never Never

There is a park in the main town site which depicts the Jeannie Gunn's story which she wrote called “We of the never never”. Jeannies book is an autobiographical record of a year spent on an isolated station in the Northern Territory, resulting in a century old love story.

Like any romance, this story revolves around a city woman who follows her man to his home in Australia's toughest outback, alien to most settlers in those days. Then she lost him twelve months later. Her words brought to life a country that many had never dreamed existed.

Characters in this Story

Here are photos of the statues of most of the characters in this story

Travel:Jeannie and Aeneas Gunn

Jeannie is the author of this classic Australian novel about life on Elsey Station in the 1890's.

Bette Bette

Travel:Bette Bette and her dog Sue

The heroine a little girl Bette Bette was found by the rope River with her dog Sue and lived on the Elsey Station.

The Stock man on his horse

Travel:Aboriginal Stockman on his horse

The Aboriginal Stock man worked beside the pioneers who opened the never never land for settlement and development in Australia.

The Cook 

Cheon the Chinese cook

Cheon the Chinese Cook on Elsey Station

We of the Never-Never
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(price as of Oct 18, 2016)
This is a wonderful story about a city woman who falls in love and follows her husband to a very lonely country and completely different life.

Australia is a big country which can be cruel with extreme heat in summer and dangerous in the wet season too.

The movie 'We of the Never Never'

This film is about the life of Jeannie, a woman who fell in love and left the big city with Aeneas Gunn who owned the million acre cattle property called Elsey Station.  This film shows the hardship and difficulties this woman who followed her husband back to his station suffered. At first the drovers resented a white woman on their station, although Jeannie persevered and soon proved them wrong.

After the death of her husband Jeannie takes young Bette Bette under her wing. And that is where I will leave the rest of the story for you to either read Jeannie's book or see the wonderful and controversial film to form your own opinion.

Cast of  ‘We of the never never’ film


  • Jeannie Gunn – Angela Punch McGregor
  • Aeneas Gunn – Arthur Dignam
  • Dan – Martin Vaughan
  • Dandy – John Jarratt
  • Mac – Tony Barry
  • Jackaroo – Tommy Lewis
  • Goggle Eye – donald Blitner
  • Rosie – Mawuyul Yanthalawuy
  • Cheon – Cecil Parkee
  • Bette Bette – Sibina Willy
  • Landlord – Tex Morton
  • Sam Lee – Kim Chiu Kok

In my Opinion this movie is well worth a look. Plus a visit to Mataranka for a few days will give you a relaxing and enjoyable time to spend with the family.

We of the Never Never
Amazon Price: $24.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 18, 2016)
This is a must see real life historic movie filmed in a harsh and different land to what Jeannie was used to living in.

Mataranka and Daly Waters



Jun 29, 2014 5:51pm
I would love to visit Australia, someday. I always enjoy reading the articles about it.
Jun 29, 2014 11:46pm
Thanks Deborah, No time like the present. Normally it has the best weather and white sandy beaches. None of those really terrible tornados over here. We do get the occasional one.
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