After leaving Adelaide River we headed to Edith Falls for a quick look, then into Katherine to stock up on groceries as our next supermarket would be Mount Isa, which we figured would take about five days to get to.
We drove from Katherine to a roadside stop about 20km north of Mataranka. It had been a long day of driving and stops and everyone was tired. We spotted a family camping that we had been near in the caravan park in Darwin so we stopped and set up a quick camp next to them. After a dinner of jatz crackers with cheese and tomato the kids from the camper next to us came over and had a dance party with my three. It was funny to see five little girls and a boy dancing to Taylor Swift songs in the middle of the outback. With no one else near us it was a good opportunity to let the kids be loud, put on music and play.
The next morning we got up early and packed away then drove into Mataranka. We did a quick drive by of the three caravan parks before choosing Bitter Springs. We had heard from fellow travellers that it was the better of the three and after seeing for ourselves we knew it to be true.
The hot springs only 1 km from our caravan park was a natural river that was lined with lilly pads and water fern. Stairs had been erected at two intervals in the river so you could climb in then float with the current and climb out at the other end. Then walk over a bridge back to the start and do it again. The length or river permitted to swim in was 150 metres, which was narrow but very deep and full of crystal clear water that sat at a constant 34 degrees. We hired pool noodles from the caravan park reception for $1 each which was great because the current was suprisingly strong and although I am a fairly good swimmer I would have struggled without a flotation device. The kids had their swimming vests on and Matilda floated with her own noodle. It was relaxing and peaceful and although I kept a close eye on the river bank for crocs (there had been a salty there 15 years ago) we never saw any wildlife apart from a few tiny fish. A couple near us spotted a turtle but it was gone before we saw. We stayed for a few hours, floating in the natural springs and eating oranges. Craig and Matilda returned the next afternoon to have a go but I decided to stay at camp with the younger two. Although it is beautiful to see these places it can also be hard work lugging the kids and towels etc down the path then having to hold onto the kids in the water incase the current takes them away.
The next morning we headed to Homestead pools which is a part of the river that has been made into a swimming pool type area. It was done in the second world war for soldiers to relax their aching bones after training all day. Now it is attached to the homestead caravan park and is used by tourists daily. It was a nice area but the water felt hotter than the river and was rather draining to swim in. We stayed an hour or so, chatting to some backpackers from France, before heading back to the caravan park to catch up on washing and school work.