13th June 2017–Normanton to Georgetown

Distance: 307 km
Fuel: 36 L

The caravan park office doesn’t open until 9am so walked down to the local ‘Supermarket’. It is one of these country stores that sells fuel, burgers, milk, bait, tools and just about anything including ice which was what I wanted.

Headed south toward Cloncurry to get to the turn off toward Cairns on the Gulf Developmental Road. These developmental highways are usually part of the price mining companies pay to develop their mine. (BTW the road from Cloncurry to Normanton is the Burke Developmental Road.)

At one point was held up for 20 minutes where they were resurfacing the road by covering it with tar then pouring small stones on top and following this up with modern equivalent of a team of steam rollers.

170613 001 Normanton to Croyden

Stopped for a while at Croydon basically because it is the only town between Normanton and Georgetown where I will stop tonight. It was the third largest town in Queensland during its gold rush but it’s glory days are behind it and now it is just another pleasant, small, outback town.

170613 005 Croyden170613 003 Croyden170613 006 Croyden170613 008 Croyden170613 010 Croyden170613 011 Croyden170613 013 Croyden170613 014 Croyden170613 015 Croyden170613 018 Croyden

From Croydon the road was a mix of single and two lanes of varying quality but nothing to slow down for (except the occasional single lane bridge). Georgetown is not a big place, you can stroll from one end of town to the other in a few minutes.

170613 022 Georgetown Peace Garden170613 021 Georgetown Peace Garden170613 024 Georgetown170613 028 Georgetown170613 030 Georgetown170613 034 Georgetown170613 040 Georgetown170613 038 Georgetown

As I neared Georgetown I saw one of those big solar battery powered signs which said something about the Etheridge River Bridge being closed on the 13th and 14th June however it was not clear. I enquired at the caravan park to be told it was possibly being closed between 9am and 5pm each day so at the worst I have to be out of here before 9am. However when I went for a walk the traffic controllers unloading their gear at the bridge told me it was not being totally closed. It is the only route east.

170613 036 Georgetown Etheridge River Bridge

Am not particularly worried because it is a rare occasion that I am not on the move before 9am. Notice why this is called the ‘dry’ season?

By about 5pm I was starving so I had the $10 special of Chicken Burger and Chips – not bad once I removed the beetroot.

170613 044 Georgetown Dinner

12th June 2017–Normanton and Karumba

Distance: 159 km
Fuel: 49 L

Up early as usual for a shower at 6.30am then washed the clothes I wore yesterday; followed that up with a breakfast of cereal and coffee (ie the same as every day) before an early morning drive to the railway station (‘historic’ it said).

170612 014 Normanton Railway Station170612 012 Normanton Railway Station170612 007 Normanton Railway Station170612 009 Normanton Railway Station170612 011 Normanton Railway Station170612 017 Normanton Railway Station

Decided to drive to Karumba (it’s only 70km on a sealed road) to see the Gulf of Carpentaria. The tourist brochure seems to imply (reading between the lines) that the only reason to go there is for fishing, boating and crabbing.

This turned out to be not far wrong; there is little there to entertain anybody not interested in those three things. There was a promising  fish and chip shop but it was a bit early to eat so I wandered about the estuary of the Norman  River and the Karumba Esplanade facing the Gulf. There were the usual warnings about not walking near the waters edge because of crocs (though a pelican floating past seemed unperturbed). The mangroves were very dense along the river banks and the estuary.

170612 018 Karumba Norman River170612 021 Karumba Norman River170612 023 Karumba Gulf of Carpentaria170612 026 Karumba Gulf of Carpentaria

Back in Normanton I called in at the Post Office for a book of concession stamps but they don’t stock them – had to pay full price ($1) to send a postcard!! Also filled up with fuel for tomorrow and packed up my, now dry, washing. (gripping stuff eh?)

Having exhausted the tourist delights of Normanton decided to have a one man pub crawl…

It started well at the Albion Hotel with a schooner of XXXX Gold but went downhill from there.

170612 031  Normanton Albion Hotel170612 032  Normanton Albion Hotel170612 035  Normanton Albion Hotel

The Central Hotel didn’t open until 4pm(??) and at the Purple Hotel I was served a midi of beer in a plastic glass with the excuse, “The rodeo was in town”. Huuumph!

170612 036  Normanton Purple Hotel

Feeling a bit peeved I walked back to the Albion Hotel for a couple more schooners and lunch but they were not serving lunch because the “Cooko was on Strike” so after a few refreshing ales went back to the caravan park for a homemade lunch – cheese sandwich, banana and tea  – not quite what I had in mind but OK. I did try the local café on the way back from the pub but they were a “Chico Roll and Chips” type of place so that was no good.

At 6pm hunger set in so I returned to the Albion Hotel for dinner and ordered rump steak, pepper sauce, wedges (chips were off) and a beer. When it arrived the steak was just about perfect so I followed it up with another beer to celebrate before returning to the caravan park.

11th June 2017–Cloncurry to Normanton

Distance: 394 km

Did all the usual things before setting off at about 8.30am under a partly overcast sky – in fact at some point along the journey about a dozen spots of rain appeared on the windscreen! I suppose that is a downpour at this time of year.

The road between Cloncurry and Normanton was a mixture of single and two lane roads – met a few caravans and 4x4s coming south so it was one set of wheels in the dirt as we passed but saw no road trains.

Stopped briefly at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse but didn’t get fuel and made a couple of stops in parking areas on the way just to stretch my legs.

170611 002 Cloncurry to Normanton170611 004 Cloncurry to Normanton170611 006 Cloncurry to Normanton Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Arrived at the caravan park at 1pm – made a dog’s breakfast of reversing into the site but eventually got there.

First job was getting the laundry done because I was down to my last two sets of shirts and undies. Once this was sorted went for a drive to look at Normanton (pop 1500), first stop the Norman River, its boat ramp and wharf. Stuck to the high wharf and raised landing stage next to the boat ramp. I don’t know if there are crocs there but I wasn’t taking the chance; as everybody tells me, “You don’t see them, they see you.”

170611 013 Normanton Norman River170611 015 Normanton Norman River170611 016 Normanton Norman River170611 018 Normanton Norman River

The town is pretty small stretching along the highway but it has all the essentials like fuel, pubs, Post Office and stores. Not a lot of activity today because it is Sunday. Am staying here a couple of nights.

170611 021 Normanton170611 026 Normanton170611 029 Normanton170611 037 Normanton170611 039 Normanton

Krys the Crocodile is supposed to be an accurate representation of the largest saltwater croc caught in these parts – 8.6 metres long.

170611 042 Normanton170611 041 Normanton170611 044 Normanton170611 047 Normanton

You don’t see too many servos like this these days.

170611 045 Normanton

Finally the town is proud of its cast gutter covers and the guttering of locally quarried stone. The gutter covers were cast at nearby Croyden.

170611 048 Normanton