Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

18-May-2005
   

We dodged all the road trains and arrived safely at Normanton. The weather here is a lot drier than it was back in the east. In fact they are not expecting any rain until December! We were planning on staying at a campsite on the coast at a place called Karumba but it was full up (with fishermen from Victoria I understand!) so we just did a daytrip out there. Karumba is on the Gulf of Carpentaria where the Norman River enters the sea. It's got an active pawning fleet based there but is famous for its fishing. There were 4x4's and boat trailers everywhere. One of the popular fish they catch here is barramundi and we sat in a pub overlooking the mouth of the river and had barra and chips under the shade of some trees - very nice! Here I am testing my new hat by the edge of the river to see if its croc proof. Oh yes, the sea is out of bounds because of the usual crocs and stingers and other things.

Testing my new hat

Norman River
A Family of Brolgas

On the way to Karumba we passed a swamp and saw some Brolgas, which are very large crane like birds. These beautiful creatures stand about 1.5mtrs tall. In the mating season the males dance to attract the females.

Brolgas family This is mum, dad and two youngsters.

Normanton is "famous" for it's railway, the Gulflander, which rattles its way the 150kms between Normanton and Croydon - but only on Wednesdays, it doesn't come back until Friday! It seems quite popular though.

The Gulflander train

'Gulflander' train
Burke and Wills Camp 119

We have switched to a new explorer, we have been following Captain Cook while travelling up the east coast but we left him behind at Cooktown and are now on the track of Burke and Wills. On their ill-fated expedition they travelled north from Melbourne to try and establish a route for the telegraph to the north coast. There is a big political story behind all this as well but you can read the book to find out all about it. Anyway, in 1861 against all odds they made it to the coast (well within 30kms of it) and their last camp was about 30kms from Normanton so we drove out to look at the memorial stone. All but one of them died on the way back!

Burke and Wills Camp 119

Bye the way, the hitchhikers are still with us in case you were wondering.

The Hitchhikers

The Hitch Hikers
The Burketown Track

It was a dusty red track out to the memorial; perhaps I could use one of them to clean the dust off! Now which one would be best?

The dusty Normanton to Burketown track