|18th August, 2013
We are now in Mt. Isa so as you can see there is a rather big gap in the itinerary so I will endeavour to bring you up to date.
I wasn’t far wrong in my last paragraph last time wherein I said that the week will be Rob fishing and me trying to stay cool. That is exactly what happened the only difference is that the sand-flies finally found me.
Thankfully they weren’t as bad as the ones I got in Darwin but still insanely itchy, especially if I became over heated, which in this climate seems to be all the time.
Rob caught a few fish each day but the illusive Barramundi was just that. He did a Rex Hunt with any of the other species he caught and they all are still swimming along nicely in the Gulf of Carpentaria till the next tasty morsel attached to a hook becomes too much of a temptation.
Our last night in Karumba we went to the sunset tavern for dinner and the sunset didn’t disappoint.
The meals didn’t disappoint either and we all left for the walk back to the vans quite satisfied.
We left Karumba on the 15th and headed for Normanton. On the way up we didn’t stop in Normanton as we had planned to stay overnight here on the way back.
Normanton is on the Norman River, who would have thought. LOL
William Landsborough established the town and it became the port for the Croydon Gold Rush.
In 1879 Burns Philp established its second Queensland branch in Normanton and proceeded to become a monopoly in the gulf trade.
The original Burns Philp building now houses the tourist information centre.
Crocodiles are very prevalent in this area and in the middle of town a replica of the largest crocodile ever shot and recorded is on display. It was shot in 1957 and was named Krys after Krystina Pawlowski, the famous female crocodile hunter who shot him. He measures 8.63m with a girth of 4m and weighed approximately 2 tonnes.
There are numerous old buildings around the town which date back to the early settlement and it is worth the time to do the town walk and have a look at how people lived and conducted their lives in such a remote part of Australia.
The Gulflander train is also based at Normanton and we were fortunate to be here on the day it was doing its run back from Croydon.
Back at the van park we had a lovely hot artesian spa followed by a “bracing” dip in the 25m pool, great for what ails you and gave some relief to the sandfly itches as well.
We had dinner that night in The Purple Pub and enjoyed watching some of the locals having a game of pool. All in all we found Normanton to be a friendly town and have no hesitation to recommend a stopover on your way further north.
The next day, 16th we are heading for Cloncurry.
We stopped at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse for a break and some fuel. They had run out of auto gas and also unleaded but thankfully they still had some diesel but it was a case of lining up and waiting your turn.
This was one of the campsites of the expedition undertaken by Robert O’Hara Bourke and William John Wills which left Melbourne in 1860 with the aim of being the first to cross Australia from south to north.
This is also a break point for many of the road trains that ply this route.
We arrived in Cloncurry along with the weather heating up so instead of walking around the town we had a drive.
Cloncurry is the birthplace of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and also the destination of the first Qantas flight from Longreach.
Copper was first discovered in 1867, just six years after The Burke and Wills ill-fated expedition.
We left Cloncurry today and headed for Mt. Isa with a stop at Mary Kathleen along the way.
Mary Kathleen was once a hive of activity but is now just a ghost town. The town was constructed in 1954 to facilitate the Mary Kathleen Mine and its workers. There are still concrete slabs where the houses and shops once were.
In 1984 the town and mine were dismantled and sold by auction, which is said to be the largest auction to have ever taken place in Australia.
We arrived in Mt. Isa mid-morning and are now camped at Moondarra Accommodation Village which is primarily a workers camp with many “cabins” for those working in the mines and associated industries in the town.
They also offer accommodation for travellers with powered and unpowered sites along with two laundries, so there’s no excuse for dirty clothes….lol, a couple of camp kitchens and also an international buffet restaurant where you can have breakfast or dinner for a fixed price. Workers and visitors alike can avail themselves of this facility.
Tomorrow we will venture into town and have a look around.