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 “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 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.
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.
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 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 ...it 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
We climbed to the top of rock
and this was the view ... well
you will have to turn the page!
Some of our other blogs
On the road again
On the road again