It’s a long way to the top, Day 56 – Karumba!

Day 56 Thursday July 31st 2014 Normanton Karumba Normanton

In this park we are very tight. Last night our TV addict neighbours on the left had their TV blaring. The folk on the right had their TV outside, obviously as a courtesy to us because as we prepared dinner we were able to watch Home and Away through our kitchen window. It was a perfect night to eat outdoors but with a different channel in each ear it became impossible. We resorted to the Dolby method and turned ours on as well.

This morning we wake at 6:00am to the sound of laughter, our neighbours watching TV again! We give up and go for a walk. The sunrise is beautiful.

Sunrise in Normanton, Qld- better than watching tele.

We have a tiny stone chip at the bottom of our windscreen and it has caused a hairline crack. There’s not much that we can do but cross our fingers until Mt Isa.


We drive out to Karumba the remotest point of our trip. It is a 70km drive north through more savannah and then the flattest flood plain of grassland and salt pans. In the savannah there are more contented cattle and there are spider webs as big as flags that take ownership of their host shrubs. In the grassland we spot a flock of Brolgas in a small swamp. Of course, I’m breathless with excitement and I say to Woody that all we need now is to see a Jabiru and I’ll be happy. All of sudden a Jabiru appears, I’m speechless.

Stop! Stop! They’re brolgas…
Oh no! A jabiru!

At Karumba Point we gaze at the Gulf of Carpentaria. The water is shallow and a pale blue green colour. Whistling kites hang on the breeze. There is a lot of very white sand and shell grit about the streets so it is dazzling on the eye. The Sunset Hotel on the point has had a busy weekend and run out of beer yep, it’s the pub with no beer, we settle for a couple of gin & tonics. For heaven’s sake, we’ve driven all the way to The Gulf for a gin & tonic! The main town has a wharf for the live export of cattle (poor buggers) and minerals. It is also the hub for commercial Gulf fishing. Every house has at least one boat. This really is a fishing town. We pop into the fishmonger and select a nice piece of Spanish Mackerel and ask if it will be big enough for two “Shit yeah” says the lady who owns the shop, followed by “Get outta there Susie!” to the little dog who has wandered in.

Sunset Hotel, the pub with no beer for us
Along the wharf at Karumba, Qld

 “Please bring your own carry bags as we are running out – no stock for a fortnight” says a Karumba shop sign. Like the pub with no beer, if you don’t get your ordering right up here your business suffers.

There’s not much to do for a couple of non-fishing folk like us so we give up on our idea of having fish & chips on the beach (what beach) at sunset. We return to Normanton to listen to The Price is Right on our neighbours TV.   

From our kitchen sink we can watch TV with the neighbours!

Towing Kms: 0

2020 Note: We later learn that live export of cattle from northern Australian has been a busy industry since the 19th century. It pays to read up on your history before hitting the road.

The caravan parks looked much more spacious in Karumba, I reckon we should have based ourselves there.

Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Source: Google Maps

10 thoughts on “It’s a long way to the top, Day 56 – Karumba!

  1. We saw our first Brolgas near Kurumba. I quite liked Kurumba, but didn’t like Normanton at all. Was interesting though to know that the town of Normanton was the inspiration for the book, A Town Like Alice.


    1. I found Karumba to be the nicer spot although Normanton was an experience. Especially the fact that the few shops didn’t look like shops. I recall our neighbour shouting with excitement that she’d found vegetables! Friends of ours stayed out at Leichhardt Lagoons a few years ago and loved it.


  2. I remember two parks in Karumba, the one we stayed in had plenty of space and many southerners had been there for 3 months. We enjoyed a meal of Mud Crab in a small cafe/restaurant there.


  3. I reckon Karumba would have been the better place to stay. Out at the Point was very pleasant; park sites were not huge, but not as bad as you describe in Normanton. We really are not fishing people, but enjoyed just doing not much there. I reckon we saw the same mob of brolgas!

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  4. This brings back so many memories of my trip up here in October 2015 with my parents. I followed along in my 2006 RAV4 with my 2 little kids (back then) as a single mum, my parents in their 90 series Prado. I had never been that far west or north on the other side of Qld. It was the first place I’d seen Brolgas or a croc in the wild when we headed towards Karumba from Normanton. I was so excited! Can’t wait to take the kids back up there again but they are old enough to actually remember the trip now. That trip was a turning point for me, when the road travel bug really hit me and I’d wished I’d got out to see more of the country before I had kids. Now I just take them everywhere with me and I’m glad they’re by my side to experience it all with me, except for the fighting in the car lol. I remember Normanton being extremely hot and a little boring (except for the big croc statue, that was there right ? The kids remember the big croc statue and the big Kronosaurus at Richmond?). We camped at Karumba and even though I didn’t really have much to do I loved it and I witnessed the most amazing sunsets ever! Also the jellyfish in the water at the little floating jetty we walked on at Karumba was crazy, there was sooo many of them. Great memories! I should do a blog post about my trip there but sadly I’ve misplaced my external hard drive that had all my photos on it.

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