12 miles down the Roper River from Mataranka is the Elsey National Park campground (called 12 mile yards) It’s much cleaner and quieter than the Mataranka Homestead campground. There are some excellent walks and interesting tracks to cycle along.
We discovered an old National Parks service road and decided to see where it led. Two hours and 4 creek crossings later, we emerged at Mataranka Falls.
Beautiful clear water, huge stands of Livingstonia Palms and a couple of freshwater crocodiles. The kind of place you don’t want to leave, especially when we had two hours of peddling to get home.
Livistonia and Pandanas palms turn the Roper River and surrounding wetlands into a magnificent oasis. Most of the surrounding area is a dry savannah landscape.
Once away from the river the country becomes hot and dry. Open eucalypt country with dry grass and lots of anthills – completely different to the area fringing the river.
How did they do that? Poke a fence right through an anthill.
The creeks feeding into Roper River are spring fed and have a high calcium content. This makes the water incredibly clear. It also causes calcium deposits to build up in certain areas.
We came across this little creek that had built up a hard limestone gutter over the years, making it look almost man-made.
Before we left Mataranka we decided to stay a night at the Homestead and have dinner in their restaurant. We found a reasonably isolated spot and set up camp. I went for a walk up along the river. When I came back a guy with four weird tiny little horses had camped nearby. I went and said g’day to him and he told me he was with the Moscow Circus and 40 trucks and trailers were following him! Within an hour the place was overun.
I expected lions, tigers and elephants, but all the Moscow Circus has are four freaky little horses – I think they are to frighten children.
The Circus was incredibly well organised They had all moved off in small groups by 9:00 next morning – bound for Alice Springs.