- Mataranka and Daly Waters -
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After a night in Katherine at the Springvale Homestead, set in lovely grounds (left), our journey continues 106 kilometres south along the Stuart Highway to Mataranka. Mataranka is a small cattle and service town with a population of 150.

In World War II a military camp, ammunition dump and workshops were established there.

The nearby Elsey Station was the setting in 1902 for 'We of the Never-Never', a famous Australian outback story by Jeannie Gunn.

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At Mataranka Homestead, 7km east of the highway, a short walk through a pocket of rainforest leads to.....

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.......a crystal-clear thermal pool - a great place for a refreshing swim (above and below).

The waters rise from the nearby Rainbow Spring which produces 5 million gallons of clear water each day. The temperature of the water remains constant at 34C (93F). Around the pool are pandanus and cabbage tree palms, paperbark trees and yellow passionfruit.

Hundreds of black fruit bats hang from the palms and various species of cockatoo and lorikeet, kingfisher and blue-winged kookaburra are in plentiful supply.

The pool and its surrounding area, including the Waterhouse River which runs through the property, was used for 'R and R' by many of the service personnel stationed in the district during WW II. The homestead was purchased after the war by an ex-serviceman, H.V. Smith, who had realised its tourist potential while stationed close by.

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Daly Waters is situated approximately 170 kilometres south of Mataranka and 3 kilometres off the main highway. A repeater station for the overland telegraph from Alice Springs to Darwin was built here in 1872, but until the telegraph line between Daly Waters and Tennant Creek was completed, pony express was used to cover the intervening territory.

Daly Waters was an important staging post for aircraft in the early days of aviation. Quantas, when it started the first international service from Brisbane to Singapore in 1934, used it as a refuelling stop. It became the first inland international airport in Australia.

Amy Johnson, Bert Hinkler and Kingsford Smith used the airstrip on their various epic making flights, and the United States and Australian air forces developed it as a bomber base during WW II. The 2000 metre runway can still be seen at the intersection of the Stuart Highway and the Daly Waters road.


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The Daly Waters Pub was established in 1893 and is the oldest in the Northern Territory. The original building was probably devoured by termites! The present building dates from the late 1920s and is constructed of corrugated iron and termite resistant Maranboy Cypress Pine. The pub is full of assorted memorabilia. A notice over the bar indicates that credit will be available to any woman over eighty years of age who is accompanied by her mother!

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The most remote traffic light in Australia - at Daly Waters (left).

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