It is hard to imagine that Burketown, a tiny town in the Gulf of Carpentaria, was once a thriving centre. But ill fate kept striking the town until it was reduced by nearly 98%. And what once was a lively settlement it is nowadays a quiet town with a population of less than 200. But it has a very interesting history waiting to be discovered...
The spectacular Morning Glory cloud formation rolling in from the Gulf of Carpentaria over the tidal flats of Burketown. Click to read more about this fascinating phenomenon.

The tiny, isolated township of Burketown (population 180) sits at the southernmost point of the Gulf of Carpentaria, 25 kilometres from the coast, about 230 kilometres west of Normanton, and 400km north of Cloncurry. Burketown sits on the Albert River and marks the point where the wetlands to the north fade into the beginning of the savannah grass plains to the south. The town owes its named to the ill-fated explorer ROBERT O'HARA BURKE, who surveyed the region in the 1860's.

By the mid 1860s, several cattle stations had been founded in the area just inland of present-day Burketown. The town itself had developed around a site on the river, and it appeared as though Burketown would soon become one of the major centres in north-western Queensland. Unfortunately, tropical diseases ravaged the population in 1866 and the town was hit by a damaging tropical cyclone in 1887 resulting in the destruction of 98 percent of Burketown.

Today, Burketown is one of Tropical North Queensland's most famed locations for barramundi fishing, and the local population swells every year as keen fishermen from all around the country make their pilgrimage to Burketown.


By 1866, Burketown was considered of sufficient regional significance to warrant the establishment of its own Post Office. Tragically, the population of Burketown was later that year ravaged by an epedemic known as 'Gulf Fever', and survivors were evacuated to Sweers Island. The original Burketown Post Office is now the visitor information centre. The Albert Hotel, built around the 1860s, was originally the Customs House and it is the oldest building in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The Burketown cemetery, is a fascinating testament of Burketown's past. The cemetery also reveals the devastation of 'Gulf Fever' disease, thought to be typhoid or malaria, and it is thought to be the largest mass grave in Australia. There are tombstones dating back to the 1860s.

The Burketown to Normanton telegraph line, which was in competition with the Adelaide to Darwin one to be the terminus for the trans-oceanic cable that connected Australia to Europe and Asia, is another site worth visiting. The line finally lost the competition due to the 'Gulf Fever' as it killed the leader of the suveying crew.

Built around 100 years ago, this artesian bore is located to the south of the town, and it remains as probably the only really interesting bore in Queensland. It still issues boiling water and has created a billabong where birdlife gathers. The minerals in the water, over the years, have built up, and nowadays the bore looks more like a modern sculpture than a tap to a supply of underground hot water. Also the pond around the bore has been coloured by the minerals.

Adels Grove, also known as 'The Frenchman's Garden', is located 10 kilometres from Lawn Hill National Park. The grove covers around 30 ha and it was established by Albert de Lestang, a French botanist, in the 1930s, when the government decided to experiment growing tropical fruits and trees. There are some facilities in the grove, including a kiosk and a caravan and camping site.

Canoeing in Lawn Hill Gorge. Towering sandstone cliffs line the gorge, and its emerald waters and lush vegetation make it not only a visual splendour, but an oasis for the wildlife of the region. The Riversleigh section of the park is one of Australia's most renowned fossil sites.

There are a range of walks in the park, from easy one hour strolls to a 7 kilometre Gorge Walk, graded 'difficult'. It is possible to canoe through Lawn Hill Gorge, a distance of up to 6km return. Private canoes are welcome, but canoes can be hired on an hourly basis from the east end of the campsite. Fishing is not permitted in Lawn Hill Creek. Bag and size limits apply for other rivers and creeks.

A camping area with toilets and showers is provided close to Lawn Hill Gorge. Camping is also available at Miyumba bush camp, adjacent to the Gregory River, approximately 55km south-east of Lawn Hill Gorge campground. For more information about this park, please CLICK HERE.

Birdwatchers will find Burketown a delightful place, with a wide variety of bird species to be spotted. This variety includes species such as galahs, cockoos, frogmouths, kookaburras and kingfishers among many others.

The Albert River Bridge - which forms the link between Burketown and Normanton - is one of the most popular, and easily accessible, fishing locations. Some other local favourites include 'China Wall' - a small causeway between the town and the wharf - and junctions where small feeder creeks meet the river.

Every Easter the World Barramundi Fishing Championships are held at Burketown, starting on Good Friday and finishing on Easter Sunday.


Phone (07) 4745 5266 / Fax (07) 4745 5252
For those people who like to do it themselves, you might prefer to fish the Albert River in one of these 4-person hire boats fitted with shade canopy and sounder. The boats are perfect for the couple or group of friends who want to take their time and explore.

Every Easter the World Barramundi Fishing Championships are held at Burketown, starting on Good Friday and finishing on Easter Sunday.

Check our TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND CALENDAR for details of this and other regular events in the region.


Burketown holiday accommodation consists mainly of traditional pub style lodging, budget motel accommodation, and a caravan park. But there is also a comfortable lodge with self contained cabins. Scroll down to choose your style of Burketown accommodation.


BURKETOWN PUB - The Albert Hotel
Corner of Beames and Musgrave Streets, Burketown
Phone (07) 4745 5104 / Fax (07) 4745 5146
With eight hotel rooms (4 airconditioned) and eight airconditioned motel style units, the Burketown pub offers an affordable choice of accommodation for everyone.


Sloman Street, Burketown
Phone (07) 4745 5118 / fax (07) 4745 5126
Relax with owner/operators Pete and Janet under endless skies in our small friendly park and journey through the unique Gulf Savannah Region.

200km southwest of Burketown / 410km northwest of Cloncurry. Phone (07) 4748 5502 / Fax (07) 4748 5600
Situated on Lawn Hill Creek, Adels Grove is adjacent to Lawn Hill National Park and 50 kilometres from the World Heritage listed Riversleigh Fossil deposits. Tent and room accommodation is available all year.


BURKETOWN PUB - The Albert Hotel
Corner of Beames and Musgrave Streets, Burketown
Phone (07) 4745 5104 / Fax (07) 4745 5146
Licenced dining room.


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Cairns Unlimited will find you the best deal on a rental car for your holidays in Tropical North Queensland.Burketown is about a 13 hour drive or 934 kilometres from Cairns. Of course, it would be a shame to do this drive without exploring a little along the way. We especially recommend a stop at the unique UNDARA LAVA TUBES and of course take your time and enjoy the diverse nature and typical North Queensland atmosphere of the ATHERTON TABLELANDS. Not everybody will be up for the challenge - and this part of the country does provide its share of challenges - but we believe that the grandeur and vastness of the Northern Outback can be best experienced form behind the wheel of your own vehicle. For the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace, please visit our CAR HIRE page. Simply fill out our obligation free enquiry form, and we will get back to you - usually the next working day - with the best deal on a rental car, four wheel drive or campervan to suit your needs.

Road trains are a common sight on the outback roads of Tropical North Queensland.Major roads in the region are sealed, but access to Burketown by road is only possible during the dry season months between April and October. The last 140km into Burketown is on unsealed dirt roads. Before travelling, be sure to check CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS. Care should be taken when travelling on roads within this remote region of the Northern Outback, as numerous ROAD TRAINS ply the highways.

Burketown is also serviced by local tour operators, as part of a longer outback experience. To view the range of tours available, please visit our TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND TOURS page.

.Savannah Aviation offers charter flight to many destinations in the Outback and in North Queensland. SAVANNAH AVIATION
Phone (07) 4745 5177 / Fax (07) 4745 5211
Freecall 1800 455 445
website link coming soon

Servicing North QLD and the Northern Territory!

Savannah Aviation offers charter flights to many destinations in the Outback and around North Queensland.

* Alice Springs * Tenant Creek * Burketown * Mornington Island * Doomadgee * Lawn Hill * Century Zinc Mine * Mt Isa * Camooweal * Normanton * Karumba * Katherine * Townsville * Cairns * Borroloola * Robinson River * Merlin Mine * Argyle Mine * Katherine * Darwin *

Savannah Aviation are also available for scenic flights over many of the magnificent sights of our Northern Outback and Gulf region.

Trans North Bus and Coach offers a route from Cairns to Karumba, stopping in many of the outback towns along the way but does not extend as far as Burketown. These towns include Undara, Mount Surprise, Georgetown, Croydon and Normanton. The route leaves Cairns every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.30am and gets to Karumba at 6.00pm. The eastbound route then leaves Karumba on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 6.30am and arrives in Cairns at 6.15pm.

One of most popular attractions in Cairns is the Great Barrier Reef.

Burketown is a tiny gulf outback town that proudly proclaims itself to be 'Australia's Barramundi Capital'. The town is very laid back with a very diverse cultural mix. You're sure to meet some real characters... Click to visit our Burketown page. Karumba is quite literally the end of the road; a small town of about 700 people, where the wide Normanton River meets the Gulf of Carpenteria. It's a friendly place, relaxed but still a little bit wild. Click to visit our Karumba page. Located close to the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Normanton is the major commercial centre of Carpentaria Shire, and is the northern terminal for Australia's most remote railway, the Gulflander. Click to visit our Normanton page. When gold was discovered in Croydon in 1885, the town went through an overnight boom and became one of the biggest towns in Queensland. What once was a bustling centre is today a quiet town with a very interesting past worth exploring. Click to visit our Croydon page. Nowadays, Georgetown is a sleepy little town but still is well serviced and a major point for visitors taking in the spectacular scenery and history of Australia's northern outback. Click to visit our Georgetown page. Undara Volcanic National parks is one of the highlights of Tropical North Queensland, and is less than 100 kilometres from Mount Garnet. Click to visit our Undara page. Described as the Oasis of the Outback - a luminous vision on the horizon for travellers coming from all directions - Mount Isa lies among the ochre-red Selwyn Ranges, on the borders of the Leichhardt River. Click to visit our Mount Isa page. Cloncurry is known as the friendly heart of the great north west because it is a welcome crossroads with a sparkling community spirit. Click to visit our Cloncurry page. Home to the Julia Creek dunnart, Julia Creek is packed with social and sporting events all year round, including the Dirt and Dust Festival or the Dunnart Bush Festival, both a major feature of the town's lifestyle. Click to visit our Julia Creek page. The town of Richmond has been recognised as one of the most attractive outback towns in Queensland, awarded with the title of Australia's Tidiest Town 2001 in the 'Keep Australia Beautiful' awards. Click to visit our Richmond page. There are many attractions around Hughenden, with gemfields, mountainous volcanic basalt country, sweeping black soil plains rich in fossils. Oh, the town is surrounded by four National Parks. Click to visit our Hughenden page. Charters Towers is a scenic gold mining city with proud heritage and history, a perfect example of the real Australia, surorunded by sprawling cattle stations and intensely coloured sunsets. Click to visit our Charters Towers page. Cairns is a tourist Mecca, and one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia. Click to visit our Cairns page. Townsville is the largest city in Tropical North Queensland, a bustling cosmopolitan city, and the stepping off point to popular Magnetic Island. Click to visit our Townsville page. Map of the Northern Outback region of Tropical North Queensland. Click on a destination to visit that particular page. Gold panning by an outback stream.
Sunset over an old fashioned windmill in Queensland's northern outback.


In case of emergency only, dial 000. In all other cases, phone the local service :

Ambulance (07) 4745 5133
Hospital (07) 4745 5133
Police (07) 4745 5120