Wikicamps and Facebook provide some epic information when it comes to finding fantastic camp sites, and Little Roper Stock Camp just out of Mataranka was one of those golden nuggets that we stumbled across, that family after family raves about. This was one of our favourite places on our 3 month trip north, and definitely one of the better Camp Sites in the NT.
We’d just spent a week at Lorella Springs Station (which is unbelievable) and drove the Savannah way to get into Mataranka. We love station stays, national parks, bush camps and hobby farms.
We will stay at one of those any day of the week over a Caravan Park, and with the reviews we’d read of Little Roper, it made sense to book a few nights in. Mataranka was a bucket list item for us, after seeing photos of the hot springs and wondering if they could actually be as good as the photos made out.
Where is Little Roper Stock Camp?
You’ll find Little Roper Stock Camp on the same road taken to get to Mataranka Thermal Pools. It’s just over the little river on your left, and camping starts about 30 metres from the road (which doesn’t get much traffic at night).
To get there, head up Homestead Road, cross the little bridge over Roper creek, and its immediately on the left, with two white 44 gallon drums hanging up. You won’t miss it.
What’s nearby that’s worth looking at?
The hot springs at Mataranka are next level incredible. I mean seriously, unbelievably awesome. Mataranka Thermal Pool is only about a kilometre down the road, and Bitter Springs is probably 10km away off the Stuart Highway. We preferred Bitter Springs, as its far more natural and the scenery is nothing short of spectacular.
The museum is supposed to be good, and there are a few novelty stores in town, along with a whip show that is apparently worth a look. With a young toddler we gave it a miss, as evenings out just didn’t end well!
Beyond that, you have Elsey National Park, which is a beautiful place but well known for salt water crocodiles, so be wary and careful as you explore it!
What’s great about Little Roper Stock Camp?
In a word, the atmosphere is fantastic at Little Roper Stock Camp; like what you very rarely find at a formal place to stay. Des will tell you himself – if you are chasing flat, green grass with perfect amenities, find yourself a caravan park nearby as this isn’t it. It is however, so much better. There are some epic other things about Little Roper Stock camp though:
Morning tea with Johnny cakes and amazing baking
I can already hear you saying ‘what’s a Johnny Cake?’. Every morning the owners put on billy tea for the guests (bring your mugs down) which is free, and they make Johnny Cakes, which are sold at $1 each. There are two varieties, but are almost like a cross between a small damper and donut. I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, but these totally blew my mind; absolutely delicious with butter and what ever spread you’d like.
To top it off, Des makes some of the best looking and tasting loaves of bread that you can buy each morning (if there’s any left) or pre order the day before.
Every morning, a number of snakes are brought out for the kids to handle and enjoy. They are small pythons that are totally harmless, yet a huge amount of fun for the children (and the big kids at heart!).
A communal fire each night
As the sun starts to dip, Des gets the fire going, and people make their way down to have a chat to each other. Drinks in hand, lots of laughs are shared and some people bring their hot plates/camp ovens down to cook a meal on. It really is an incredible atmosphere with everyone coming down for a good time.
Dinner and a show
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can book a camp oven dinner, cooked by Des himself, which is 3 courses and includes a bit of a show . We didn’t get around to doing this, but heard great things about it, and if its anything like his baking, would be amazing food.
Lots of friendly animals
Little Roper Stockyard has a number of chickens, peacocks and other birds. They’ve also got a couple of dogs, a massive old bull, cow and calf and a couple of water buffalo. All of them are extremely tame, and the big cattle can be hand fed lots of straw. They aren’t to be completely trusted, but are the tamest that I’ve come across, and love a good scratch and feed. The kids absolutely adore these animals.
A laid back, non caravan park feel
I mentioned the atmosphere above, and I’ll say it again. There are no designated camp sites, no rules about this and that and despite there being a lot of caravans, it doesn’t feel like a normal caravan park.
Rustic amenities full of character
The toilet and shower block was built over a year, and was done using recycled material. It has a lot of character, and is quite entertaining and interesting to have a good look around. There’s only one shower in each block, and two toilets, but it seems to work just fine.
Fantastic, family run place with great hosts
There’s nothing that compares to the love that a family can give to a particular place. This is run by a family who are more than happy to help you out, have a yarn or point you in the right direction.
There are toilets and showers, running hot and cold water (this is bore water and its advised not to run through your caravan due to high lime levels) and washing machines for $3 a load.
All in all, this is a magic spot, and if you have kids its by far and away the place to stay when you visit Mataranka.