Darwin to Adelaide Roadtrip – December 2017

Day 2  Mataranka to Tennant Creek

Checked out at 9.35 am and fuelled up.

Along the way we started seeing what looked like small people by the side of the road. They were in fact dressed termite mounds. Some of them are quite realistic. I believe it’s something started some years ago by backpackers. 

We passed the smouldering remnants of a few bushfires – not what you’d expect with the place looking so green and lush – then the Pink Panther hotel at Larrimah, then through Daly Waters and Dunmarra. 

Had a pitstop at the George Todd Memorial. Hot water came out of the cold tap in the toilet, quite hygienic!

It was 12.30 pm as we got to Newcastle Waters and we were going to stop for lunch but there was no shade so we continued on to Elliott where we found enough shade to cover us and the vehicle. After fuelling up at the supermarket we hit the road again heading for Tennant Creek. We went through Renner Springs at 2.00 pm, then on to the Telegraph Station, stopping briefly at the Three Ways to see the memorial to the Rev John Flynn, Royal Flying Doctor founder.

Telegraph Station

Fighting off flies makes it hard to pose for photos!

The Rev John Flynn Memorial

Dressed termite mounds

The long unwinding road

Lunch at Elliott

  
Our hosts at the Tennant Creek Caravan Park while welcoming, advised us that it was 42 degrees and those cabins were like hot boxes – they hadn’t turned on the airconditioning in advance – and then handed Joshua his bedding, telling him he could make his bed himself. 


They were right, the cabin was like an oven and it took both the old and new aircon units to eventually cool the place down. There was no cold water in the fridge and the glasses were hot. 

Again, there was no microwave-safe bowl and, in terms of crockery and cutlery, there was exactly three of everything.  So miserly! 
All this for just $150 a night.

There was a shaded swimming pool which we all took advantage of while we waited for the hot box to become habitable.

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Darwin to Adelaide Roadtrip – December 2017

Left Darwin around 11.45 am, off on our first roadtrip with our 9-year-old grandson Joshua.

The last time we did this trip was in 1994 with his mother Tara and her sister Aisling, then aged 7 and 10-and-a-half respectively, and my mother Phyllis, who was visiting from Ireland. We were on our way to Tasmania for Christmas.


After fuelling up we stopped at Tara’s workplace to say our goodbyes. It wasn’t long before we were on the open road and passing a herd of Brahman being loaded onto a roadtrain at Coomalie Creek cattleyards.

Our first pitstop was Adelaide River where we ate a hurried lunch of chicken rolls. Besides the heat and the flies, it’s hard to relax when roadtrains you know you’re going to get stuck behind are constantly rolling past.

It was 1.40 pm before the radio reception ran out. Yay! Time for Bob Seger, always the first CD on our roadtrips. Radio reception has improved – we used to be halfway through the CD by Adelaide River.

Not long after passing the Pine Creek turnoff we spotted a goods-train travelling alongside us. This was a first for us. We haven’t even seen the Ghan yet and I think that’s been running north of Alice Springs for over twenty years.

We got to Katherine at 2.55 pm and fuelled up at the first petrol station over the bridge, United. It wasn’t there last time we went through and that really threw us out – it was being rebuilt! 

Then it was on to Mataranka Homestead for our first overnight stop.


We really appreciated the airconditioning having been turned on before our arrival and the jug of cold water and chilled glasses in the fridge, but it didn’t take long before we were soaking in the thermal springs.

Preparing dinner proved to be a bit tricky between having to wash the cutlery and use our own bowl in the microwave, which doesn’t seem like much but when you’ve paid $124.50 you expect a bit better.

Watching TV was another challenge without a remote control. I tried looking for it in one of the drawers:

These cabins have seen better days!

Should have been time to get a good night’s sleep, but the insects that had managed to get inside had other ideas, they even got under the topsheet! But while we tossed and turned and fought off insects, Joshua slept like a log. He said it was because he had to sleep in complete darkness instead of having a night light.