Broome trip ... Normanton to Kakadu


another couple of weeks of travel

Issue 2

June 2019



15,000 klm

On the road again

Gulfland Caravan Park (unpow

Normanton was our choice as I wanted to ride the Gulflander, probably Qld’s oldest trains.

The caravan park was only $16 for an unpowered site but the amenities were fairly rustic,

with the male showers having as much privacy as a football changing room. The town being

the hub of the gulf region had a fairly large residential and industrial area but just a few

shops to cater to the residents.

After the noises the Suzuki had been making I needed to check the oil levels and if anything was

loose underneath, I approached the local BP mechanical workshop and he agreed to check it

after lunch. When it was on the hoist I checked underneath and he checked the oil levels and we

couldn’t find a problem, I asked how much and he said I only charge when I fix something and I

couldn’t find anything to fix, so no charge......... it probably took about 20 mins and the use of the

hoist and still he wouldn’t accept anything!

A few of the pubs in town

wered section) Normanton

The RM60

The “truck” train known as the Rm60 was built in 1931 based on a french truck,

evidently that type of rail vehicle was fairly common fairly common in outback Qld

pre Ww11, being cheap to build and repair.

After being lovingly restored it is occasionally brought for public trips.We were

lucky to be there at the right time to go on a 40 minute round trip and although it

had nicely upholstered seats it was a pretty bumpy and slow trip, but still very


The Gulflander

The view from the drivers perspective

The Gulflander runs between Normanton and Croydon, it was

established in the late 1800's when Croydon was a major gold

town. After the gold ran out the trains still ran but with reduced

services till finally in the 70's the started running a return trip

once a week.

Tourist demand led to 2 hour excursions from Normanton once

or twice a week and we did one of those. It was enjoyable but

the 2 hours were long enough, I’m my attention span wouldn’t

have lasted the 5 hour full trip

The tried consisted of a pre war rail motor and two passenger

carriages built in the early 1950's.

The Gulf o


Karumba is basically a hotspot fishing destination with people from

down south holidaying here for 3 months at a time to indulge there

passion. Karumba was also a port for the live cattle trade to Indonesia

(not sure if that still happens)

As we have no interest in fishing there wasn’t much else to see so after

enjoying a huge Barramundi fish and chips, taking in the vista of the

Gulf we headed back to Normanton

We might have missed stuff as we have lots of friends who love the

place, but to us it was a typical seaside fishing village that is quite

common on the Australain coast.

f Carpentaria


The Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine

The mine ran for a short time in the 50's and 60's supplying uranium oxide to the UK for

their power stations, once the contract was fulfilled the mine closed till the mid 70's when

it was used to supply Japan among others for their power stations. At the end of those

contracts the mine was decommissioned and virtually everything was sold and removed.

Now the township exists as a ghost town with 43 crumbling streets and over 200

concrete slabs are all that remain of this once thriving mining town. The area is all private

property but the owners allow it to be used as free camping ground.

Although you cant see it in the drone photo, as it was taken in the late morning, there

were probably over 100 vans staying overnight.

The mine is about 6klm from the village and due to the deteriorating roads

you needed a 4wd (or not care about your own vehicle.) to get to it.

The blue water sends gieger counters crazy, but people still swim in it,

there the ones that glow at night.

We arrived in Camooweal after a brief stop in Mt Isa, well they did have a McDonalds.. so

hotcakes for breakfast and on we went.

Camooweal really caters to the travelling public with free water, dump point and a huge area along

the riverbank, although in the dry a series of billabongs, which stretches for kilometres.

Wikicamp, our free camp bible, suggested to avoid the first section of the free camp as it gets too

crowded and move further down river, when we pulled into the first section there was no one there

so we set up camp. I flew the drone over the second section and it chocca’s with vans. There was

over 100 vans squeezed into that area and here we were with no one closer than 100 metres and

that is after a constant stream of vans headed past us heading for the 2nd section ..... no idea how

many ended up there or why they had to all cluster together.

Camooweal Qld

That’s us, in the first section

and no one near us,

but look at the big picture

Bore 41 Barkley Highway NT

Well it happened to us, when we arrived we were the only ones there, then the two motorhomes

and caravan parked barely 10 metres from us, just after the photo was taken another two parked

right next to us on the other side ... look at the photo there is heaps of room, why park next to us?

Now .. whats the problem you say??? ... well Jan’s got an over developed sense of intruding on

others, so we had to have the tv so low I couldn’t hear it and talk in whispers so we didn’t disturb

them!! while they ran their generators, shouted between vans and generally carried on as if no

one else was around.

Sunset, Bore 41

Day break, Bore 41

Banka Banka


Banka Banka was our first stop on the Sturt Hwy, heading towards Darwin,

we had shopped earlier at Tennant Creek, it having the only supermarket

within 300 ks, as Banka Banka carried no supplies.

The photo was taken around 11am, by late afternoon there was barely a

clear patch of dirt and they were still coming in ... so many people


That night they had a country and western singer and a campfire was

27 degrees!!, neither was to our taste so it was an early night and an early

departure. Well we thought we were early, but by 7am the campsite had

cleared...everyone racing for the next spot.

Daly Waters Pub is one of the icons of the Northern Territory, every traveller has to call there ... there is only

a pub!! in fact in the last census Daly Waters permanent residents totalled 9. Most days in the season there

would be hundreds of people there.

Remember I said people left sites early to get a spot at the next one, well we arrived there at about 10.30

and it was almost full, we would have been earlier but we stopped at Dunmarra to try their iconic vanilla

slices .. they were huge and great.

I use the word iconic a lot but all the little pubs and servo’s delevop something special to bring the

customers .. some of them do it reall well.

The star meal “barra and steak” is so popular that you have to book and they have several sitting times,

although it came highly recommended by our travellings friends I was to much of a cheapskate to pay $70

for two serves of fish and chips.

I think the pub owns every business in town ...they probably own the town.

There is some form of entertainment every night, we were fortunate enough to have

both the Pitt Family Circus and a country and western duo. We had seen the Pitt

Family preforming in Lismore a few years ago, since then they had added another

member (2 years old) and the show was a bit more risque .obviously to suit the older

..much ..audience.

After the circus show we, not being ones to hang around pubs, went back to the

motorhome to cook tea with the country music wafting in the background.

Bitter Sp


Mataranka, like a lot of this area, has hot springs bubbling to the

surface and with enough quantity to form creeks of hot water, 32

degrees, that flow into the normal rivers.

Bitter Springs is one of them, the NT Parks have built paths and

access points to the creek and thus it is very popular to jump in and

be carried about 300 metres down stream in the hot /warm water

and hop out and the steps and do it all again.

There is a slight chance of crocodiles, mainly “freshies” but this

quite low.... they put foam balls in various places and check for

teeth marks as the crocs are quite curious, I found some with teeth

marks but they were probably old ones.



About 1200 metres

from early photos

North Bank


Katherine is the highway compass hub of the NT. north to Darwin, south to

Adelaide, east to Townsville and west to Broome.

We didn’t do a lot here as we will be staying here again after Darwin, we

stayed in the cheapest unpowered park, at $20 a night it wasn’t all that bad.

The motorhome needed it’s tyres rotated, we found a McDonalds and

bought some beer.

Buying the beer was an experience, there were two NT police officers

checking id before you were allowed into the bottle shop and then you had

to have your id scanned prior to paying for anything..must be an alcohol in

this town.

Caravan Park


Knotts C




Knotts Crossing


Cahills Crossing

Cahills Crossing was going to be the highlight of Kakadu,

evidently at high tide the Barramundi fish swim across the

crossing much to the delight of the waiting crocodiles. We

arrived on the rising tide and there was one big croc about

50 metres upstream, sunning itself on the bank. As we

waited for high tide a lot of people started fishing with a few

fishes caught, but no more crocodiles.

Our attention span ran out about 30 mins before hightide

so we took this photo and drove up to Ubirr and spent

about an hour looking at the scenery.

This was the sight that greeted us when we returned an hour later. I

felt quite disappointed that I had missed the crocs but after asking

a few bystaneeders they said none had appeared.

It seems they must not eat everyday as we did speak people in the

caravan park who said they had seen them feeding.

Speaking of the caravan park, we thought it and Kakadu were

extremely over priced. A Magnum ice cream around $3.50 most

places was $6.00 and this is only 200k from Darwin on a major

road ...just a rip off!

Walking down towards the Ubirr location, for us

have been the most impressive site ion the Kak

Ubirr would

du Park

The first rock art we came across, we were following a

guided party and they were told this was over 2000

years old and the guide told a story that it was to stop

people stealing ..all about a rock being rolled in front of

a cave and trapping the thieves ..I must have missed

something in the spiel cause I couldn’t get that out of

those drawings!

She also pointed out the white figure saying he was a

white man with shoes they called boss.

I think there was some confusion as my knowledge of

history doesn’t have white man in this area till around

the 1860's.

We climbed to the top of rock

and this was the view ... well

you will have to turn the page!


view from

e wetlands

the escarpment

Some of our other blogs

On the road again

On the road again