This National Park In Australia Has Clear Watered Springs And The Best Swimming Spots

If you were looking for clear water and gorgeous swimming spots in Australia, you'd probably head for its top-ranked beaches. Lucky Bay, Bondi Beach, and Surfers Paradise all beckon water lovers to their shores. But we recommend swapping your surfboard for a pool noodle, as some of Australia's best swimming spots are oases in the vast Outback terrain. The Northern Territory is famous for its swimming holes, from the refreshing plunge pools of Kakadu National Park to the sandy gorges around Alice Springs.

But there's one national park where visitors can enjoy bathing in crystal-clear hot springs surrounded by lush bush vegetation. Elsey National Park, around 4.5 hours south of Darwin, is a wonder Down Under and has not one, but two hot springs to entice visitors. Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pool are fantastic destinations in their own right. They also make relaxing stops on the long road from Uluru near Alice Springs to Darwin and Kakadu in the north.

Elsey's hot springs

Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pools are just a ten-minute drive apart, so you can visit both on the same day — maybe with a break in the middle so you don't end up looking like a prune. The water remains a delightful 93 degrees Fahrenheit year-round in both hot springs. They are set in tropical woodland areas with short walks around them. The springs are lovely places to relax for a few hours. Be aware that both hot spring areas can close during the wet season (November to May) or when a crocodile tries to join the pool party.

You can access Mataranka Thermal Pool via Mataranka Homestead. The Homestead offers onsite campsites, cabins, motel rooms, and a bar. These hot springs can feel a bit commercialized and crowded at times and are more akin to an open-air swimming pool than a truly natural pool.

On the other hand, Bitter Springs has been left almost entirely to nature. The only additions to help visitors are the stairs to get in and out of the pool. This body of water has a fairly strong current, so most visitors get in at one end and enjoy being floated down to the other before climbing out and walking back to the entry point again. Bring goggles and a pool noodle, and keep your eyes peeled for freshwater turtles paddling along the bottom.

Other things to do in Elsey National Park

Elsey is an outdoor lover's paradise, with walking, camping, and fishing areas. At ten miles, Riverside Walk is the longest hike and goes along the Roper River. Mataraka Falls is a five-mile round trip and one of the main attractions on the walk. The Roper River is also a renowned fishing destination, and those who cast a line will have a chance to catch a coveted barramundi.

If you want to stay overnight, Jalmurark Campground offers luxury camping in the form of barbecues, showers, and toilets. Still, it retains its rustic feel and is an incredible place to sit under the stars and listen to dingoes howling in the night. Book online to secure a little slice of Outback heaven.

While the nearby town of Mataranka is tiny, it punches above its weight in terms of attractions. Mataranka is most famous for being at the heart of the 1908 novel "We of the Never Never." More a memoir than a novel, the book chronicles a woman's life at a local cattle station in the early 1900s. It's a great read for those new to the area. In Mataranka, you can visit the Elsey Homestead Replica, built for a movie version of the book. The remains of the actual homestead and cemetery are 12 miles south of Mataranka. Back in town, the Never Never Museum showcases the area's Aboriginal history, the building of the North Australian Railway, and World War II.