There’s little to the village of MILK RIVER, a couple of kilometres inland from Alligator Hole, other than the spa, the usual crowd of schoolchildren and a smattering of churches, although there are rumoured plans to build a large all-inclusive hotel close to the spa. The river itself is named for its colour in the early morning, when it is shrouded in mist; swimming is not a great idea, given that the river is home to a number of crocodiles. Three kilometres beyond the spa, past rows of giant cacti, is the tiny fishing village of Farquhars which has, at its western end, a passable black-sand beach where you can swim in the ocean. Expect lots of good-natured attention from the locals, as tourists very rarely venture this far.

Milk River Spa

The hot mineral springs at Milk River were first discovered in the early eighteenth century. Mineral spas were subsequently built in the area – first opened to the public in 1794 – and are today housed in the basement of the Milk River Hotel. Renovations on the main baths, including new tiles and mosaic designs, have added to its appeal, as well as the opening of three additional, larger baths at the far end of the hotel – only open on special occasions. Many of the guests at the hotel and spa are return visitors who swear by the curative powers of the water for a range of ailments from rheumatism to gout, nerve diseases and sciatica. Other visitors find their curiosity tinged with concern about the high radioactivity levels of the baths – more than fifty times that of the waters at Vichy in France – although the staff will assure you that this is quite harmless so long as you don’t stay in for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

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