Thursday, 17 July 2014

Roper River

The brochures all mention the warm crystal-clear water of the Roper River in the Elsey National Park. We went to have a look.

We stayed in the campground beside the Roper River at 12 Mile Yards within the park, west of Mataranka. Away from the madding crowd. We also visited several other sites along the river as well as the Thermal Pool at Mataranka Homestead. We found a beautiful environment dominated by Livistona mariae Cabbage Palms, and yes, the fast-flowing springs are amazingly clear. We shared our camp with Rainbow Lorikeets, Bee-eaters, Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Rufous Whistlers as well as some horrible cane toads. It would be great to be able to spend more time in this beautiful park. Maybe next time.

Cabbage Palm
Roper River
Important shelter debris for the residents of Roper River.
Roper River
The warm water at Rainbow Spring bubbles to the surface from deep underground and runs through the modified Thermal Spring, just a few metres from the Roper and flowing into it. The Thermal Spring was highly modified by army officers during WW2, lined and widened, but the water is still very fast-flowing and is now a very popular swimming spot. The National Park team manages this area very well, with board walks, signs, well-marked footpaths and other people-controls to protect the environment. I was disappointed to see that the resident Little Red Flying Fox population has been encouraged to move elsewhere.

Thermal Pool, Mataranka
Thermal Pool, Mataranka
From Mataranka to the 12 Mile Camp swimming in the Roper River is encouraged. Pontoons have been provided and it looks very inviting on a 33 degree day, but the signs are slightly discouraging. The signs declare that the swimming zones are safe, but, if you do see a saltwater crocodile you are to report it to the authorities!!!

Swimming pontoon, Roper River, Elsey NP
Canoes at the 12 Mile Camp
Swimming signs beside the roper River
We will be visiting, and probably swimming in, the warm waters of the famous Bitter Spring at Mataranka when we travel back down the Stuart Highway.

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