THE OUTBACK - NORMANTON
Normanton is an unusual, fascinating and delightful town. 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. Today a three-car motor rail links Normanton and Croydon once a week. In the meantime, the Gulflander sits inside Normanton's station.
NOTE: THE MAIN ROADS THROUGH THE OUTBACK ARE SEALED. ONCE YOU LEAVE THIS MAIN ROAD, CONDITIONS DEPRECIATE QUICKLY, AND YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF ON A GRAVEL TRACK. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT OUR SAFE DRIVING SECTION.
Just over a kilometre out of Normanton, on the Normanton-Burketown road, you will see signs marking Camp 119, the northernmost point of the ill fated BURKE AND WILLS EXPEDITION from 1860-61. This was the first expedition to cross Australia from south to north, finding a route across the continent from the settled areas of Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria, a trek of 2,650 kilometres. At that time, most of the inland of Australia had not been explored and was completely unknown to the European settlers.

Normanton is 700 kilometres from Cairns, and less than 100 kilometres from the coastal town of Karumba, on the Gulf of Carpenteria. The town sits atop a high ironstone ridge, overlooking the Savannah grasslands to the west, and the wetlands to the north. Normanton started life as a centre for the Gulf region's cattle industry, but grew rapidly with the discovery of gold at Croydon in 1885. Before long, the small settlement's population had swelled to over 1,200. But the gold rush was short lived, and by 1947, the population had dropped to 234. The subsequent development of prawn fishing in Karumba, and an increase in tourism to the region has resurrected Normanton, and today, with a population of over 1,300, Normanton is the business centre of the gulf region.

Life size replica of Kris, the largest crocodile ever caught. It can be seen in Normanton, in Far North Queensland's outback.If you needed any reminders that this is still very much croc' country... in Henry Park adjacent to the Shire Council Offices, you will see a life size replica of the largest crocodile ever caught. This beast, affectionately nicknamed 'Krys the Savannah King', was shot on the MacArthur Bank of the Norman River in 1957, and measured a staggering 8.63 metres! Although I am usually reluctant to convert for our non-metric friends, this equates to just under 29 feet! If you stand next to the statue, it feels more like you're standing next to some sort of ancient dinosaur, and it's a sharp reminder to be careful on and around the waterways.

But where there's crocodiles, there's Barramundi, and the Norman River is a great spot for fishing. In fact, Normanton is proud to call itself the 'Barramundi Capital of the North', with locals regularly catching fish in excess of five kilos. And if you've taken an interest in Australia's apparent penchant for "BIG THINGS" (the big pineapple, the big prawn, the big cow, the big mango and so on indefinitely) you won't want to miss Normanton's 'Big Barramundi'.

Normanton is also a popular spot for birdwatchers, recognised internationally as the location for an estimated one-third of Australia's migratory wading birds, such as Brolgas and Sarus Cranes. Check out our BIRDWATCHING page for other great birdwatching destinations around Tropical North Queensland, or open our BIRDWATCHING MAP in a separate window.

In the build up to the wet season, the weather can be changeable and unstable. But it's this time of year, around September to November, that visitors may be treated to a very unusual atmospheric phenomenon known as the MORNING GLORY.

ATTRACTIONS AND THINGS TO DO - NORMANTON

The old 'tin hare', as the Gulflander train is also known.Normanton is home to a number of interesting, historic, and just downright peculiar buildings, including the distinctive 'Purple Pub', the 'Albion Hotel', where Captain Percy Tresize drew a series of humorous paintings on the barroom walls, and the unique Bank of New South Wales building, which is now listed by the National Trust.

The Penitentiary was founded in 1888, when Normanton was established as the centre of Police District. Besides, the Supreme Court of Queensland sat in Normanton from time to time. Normanton penitentiary was the site were the last hanging in the Gulf area took place. Tours can be conducted with permission from the council free of charge.

THE GULFLANDER AND THE RAILWAY STATION
The town's greatest tourist attraction is undoubtedly 'The Gulflander'. The railway line was originally planned to service the beef industry by running from Normanton to Cloncurry but the discovery of gold at Croydon redirected it. The rail is a masterpiece of adaptive design, utilizing special steel sleepers which allowed the train to resume travel immediately after wet season flood waters receded. Even the railway station itself is a popular attraction with visitors. Now National Trust listed, it is one of Normanton's most distinctive landmarks, an unusual building with unique decorative patterns on the cross-braces which hold up the corrugated-iron roof.

Nowadays the Gulflander runs a once weekly service leaving Normanton at 8:30am on Wednesday and returning from Croydon at 8:30 the next morning.

TOURS

NORMAN RIVER FISHING & CRUISES
Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1347 / Fax (07) 4745 1525
Norman River Fishing & Cruising conduct daily sunset cruises, half day fishing trips and other charters of your choice, a six metre custom built punt, surveyed to carry 12 passengers.


EVENTS
NORMANTON ANNUAL BARRA CLASSIC
The Annual Normanton Barra Classic is hosted by the Albion Hotel, in Normanton, over the Easter long weekend every year. The Competition is held on the Norman River, just outside of Normanton, and the competition is stiff and popular, so be sure to book your accomodation early!!

NORMANTON ANNUAL SHOW / RODEO
The Normanton Annual Show / Rodeo is held over the Queens Birthday long weekend in June. The weekend events start with a Street Parade on Thursday, which all the residents of Croydon are very proud to be involved in. Then it's an early wake up on Friday morning for the start of the Campdrafting Events, and Friday night the bullock rides and anybody can enjoy live entertainment at the bar. Saturday morning is when the exciting Campdrafting finals are held and the live entertainment is back on Saturday night to help everyone dance there way into Sunday morning. On Sunday, it's time for the Rodeo events, so make sure you are out at the grounds early to see all the thrills and spills!!

For more details of these and other regular events in the region, please visit our TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND EVENTS CALENDAR

ACCOMMODATION - NORMANTON

Normaton holiday accommodation centres around the few traditional Australian pubs, a motel and a few caravan parks and campgrounds. Scroll down or use the buttons in the right hand column to choose your style of Normanton accommodation.


HOTELS

ALBION HOTEL/MOTEL
Haig Street, Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1218

CENTRAL HOTEL/MOTEL
Landsborough Street, Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1215

PURPLE PUB & BROLGA PALMS MOTEL
Landsborough Street, Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1324


CARAVAN PARKS AND CAMPGROUNDS

GULFLAND MOTEL AND CARAVAN PARK
Landsborough Sreet, Normanton
(07) 4745 1290 / Fax (07) 4745 1138
Gulfland Motel and Caravan Park offers cabins and powered sites with a licensed restaurant and a cool swimming pool. Double and single beds, ensuite rooms

LEICHHARDT LAGOON CAMPING GROUND
Croydon Road, Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1330

NORMANTON TOURIST PARK
Brown Street, Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1121
Normanton Tourist Park is located in the centre of town and is walking distance to all conveniences.The park has a variety of accommodation; ensuited cabins, self contained budget rooms all of which are airconditioned

DINING - NORMANTON

GULFLAND MOTEL AND CARAVAN PARK
Landsborough Sreet, Normanton
(07) 4745 1290

PURPLE PUB & BROLGA PALMS MOTEL
Landsborough Street, Normanton
Phone (07) 4745 1324

GETTING TO NORMANTON

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Cairns Unlimited will find you the best price on a rental car so you can discover the magnificence of the Northern Outback at your own pace.Normanton is eight or nine hours driving time along Highway 1 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 Far 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, even if you are on vacation. 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 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 there are a number of unsealed 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.

Normanton is also serviced by local tour operators, as part of a longer outback experience. To view the range of tours available, please visit our OUTBACK 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

www.savannah-aviation.com

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. 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.

The Gulflander, also known as the 'tin hare'.Normanton is not linked by rail, except to nearby Croydon, on the historic 'Gulflander'. The Gulflander, or 'tin hare' as it is known, rattles its way between the two towns once a week, leaving Normanton on Wednesdays at 8.30am and departing Croydon at 8.30 Thursday morning. The ride takes four and a half hours.

The closest center with rail connections to the east coast would be Forsayth, almost 350 kilometres to the south east.

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. Sunset over an old fashioned windmill in Queensland's northern outback.
Gold panning by an outback stream, in Far North Queensland.


EMERGENCY SERVICES

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

Ambulance (07) 4745 1299 or 131233
Hospital (07) 4745 1144
Police (07) 4745 1133