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Visit the small pastoral town of Mataranka, made famous by the novel We of the Never Never and renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool.

The small town of Mataranka, south of Katherine, is renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool, pastoral history and as a welcomed stop with tourers. The area was made famous by the novel We of the Never Never – a book written about nearby Elsey Station by Jeannie Gunn.

Sights and souvenirs

Spend some time looking around the Mataranka township. Browse the Stockyard Gallery’s exhibit of local Aboriginal art from the Mataranka and Roper River areas. Pick up a didgeridoo, postcard, whip or spear and enjoy a homemade iced coffee and a scone in the cafe’s garden.

See the fish being fed, witness the spectacle of enormous barramundi being plucked from a billabong, and learn how the fish live, change sex and breed on the twice-daily tours at Territory Manor.

Local histories

Wander through the Never Never Museum to learn about this country’s traditional Aboriginal custodians, the Mangarayi and Yangman people. There are also displays about the region and the North Australian Railway, the Overland Telegraph Line construction and World War II.

At the Elsey Homestead Replica you will start to understand that life was isolated and hard for early settlers. The building is a reconstruction of the original homestead and was built for the 1980s film adaptation of the novel We of the Never Never. Every detail of the homestead was faithfully replicated, down to the hand-hewn local cypress pine.

Learn about the region’s WWII history at Larrimah, south of Mataranka. The historic outpost was established in 1940 to service the nearby Gorrie Airfield during the war. Look through photographs and interpretive signage at the Military Transport Museum.

Things to see & do at Mataranka

  • Information

    Entry cost

    Free entry


    • Carpark
    • Swimming Pool


    • Birdwatching
    • Swimming
    • Walks


    Disabled access available, contact operator for details.

  • Map


    What's nearby

    What's nearby

    Explore the NT
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  • FAQs

    Can Mataranka be done as a day trip?

    A day trip to Mataranka from Katherine is definitely possible. The crystal clear thermal waters of Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pools are known to soothe the soul, so it's worth setting off early to maximise your time in the region.

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    Do I need any passes or permits to visit Mataranka?

    Mataranka and Bitter Springs are free to enter and do not require any permits.

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    How do I get around Mataranka?

    Mataranka township itself is small, but if you want to see the surrounding attractions, a car will make the trip to the water more comfortable. If you're walking from the township, Bitter Springs is 30 minutes (2.9 kilometres) away and the Mataranka Thermal Pool is around two hours' (9 kilometres) walk.

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    How do I get to Mataranka?

    Mataranka and Bitter Springs in Elsey National Park are just over an hour's drive southeast of Katherine. An easy way to get there is to drive, although there are tours that set off from Darwin. If you're in the adventurous spirit, the Explorers Way self-driving route will take you all the way from Adelaide in South Australia to Darwin, via Mataranka. You can drive the route in a regular car, but give yourself around a fortnight if you truly want to enjoy the experience.

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    How far is Mataranka from Katherine?

    Mataranka is 108km from Katherine, or just over an hour by car.

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    What are the major attractions at Mataranka?

    The major drawcards here are of course the natural springs and baths. Bitter Springs and the Mataranka Thermal Pools are both worth a visit, so make sure you leave time for each of them. The region also boasts plenty of WWII history, and some amazing camping and fishing spots.

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    What should I bring with me to Mataranka?

    Bring swimwear, a towel, underwater camera (if you have one), goggles, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, a water bottle, and you're set.

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    When is the best time to visit Mataranka?

    If you want warm, dry days and cool nights, your best bet is to explore Mataranka from May to October. This is the most popular time to visit, however the pools are open for swimming year round.

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    Where should I go next from Mataranka?

    From Mataranka, the closest must-see location is Nitmiluk National Park and Nitmiluk Gorge. There's plenty to see, so give yourself a couple of days staying in the nearby town of Katherine.

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