The “Savannah King” a massive salt water crocodile was shot on the McArthur bank of the Norman River in 1957 by Australia’s legendary crocodile hunter, a petite polish born woman, Krys Pawlowski. Outback folklore remembers her as “One Shot Krys” the north Queensland hunter and taxidermist who shot 5,000 crocodiles and missed only three. Krys later turned to conservation and regretted shooting this ancient dinosaur like salt water crocodile saying she was really sorry she shot him, “poor fellow, he never woke up, he didn’t know we were there and we couldn’t move him, he was so big, he was the most beautiful animal.” A life size replica of Krys now sits in the middle of Normanton, he measures 8.63 meters ( 28 feet 4 inches) a super crocodile in crock country and listed in the world record books.
Normanton is a unique outback town with a rich colonial history that has seen both boom and bust years, beginning as a small port town servicing the Croydon gold fields during the gold rush, this colourful era brought people from all walks of life from gold miners, merchants and farmers of all nationalities.
Normanton it is an important administration center and it is surrounded by the Gulf Savannah, famous for its Barramundi and visited by anglers from all over Australia; a popular local fishing spot on the banks of the Norman River is on the original section of the old port. Early explorers Burke and Wills passed through the region on their expedition to cross inland Australia in 1860-1861 and their most northerly camp ‘Burk and Wills Camp 119’ is a 30k drive to the outskirts of the town.
To the north of Normanton you will find the stunning Mutton Hole Wetlands, in November and December, the monsoons replenish dry waterways and lakes, attracting a variety of bird life including brolgas, pelicans, and jabirus and in the dry season the wetlands return to a beautiful landscape of mangroves and grassland. The famous Gulflander Train Station houses a museum and rolling stock, the Gulflander operates overnight trips to Croydon and additional day trips. Take a ‘Billy Tea & Damper’ or ‘Sunset BBQ trip to Critters Camp’, hop on board and experience a unique outback rail journey, savor real bush tucker and watch the local wildlife along the way.
A must visit is the Burns Philip Building, this huge building was built in 1884 and was a busy thriving business, with its colonial architecture and original façade it serves as a visitor information center and Library and is a very interesting place to spend a little time, wander around in air-conditioning comfort, take in the local history and step back into the pioneer period of the district.
Normanton is the administrative center of the Shire of Carpentaria and today the town is surrounded by cattle stations with beef being the primary industry, zinc export and a prawning industry operate from Normanton, as well as the famous Barramundi, every anglers dream fish. The town has very wide streets and there is a town walk with 10 places of interest, one being the artesian bore which is now located in a caravan park, this bore used to supply up to 300,000 gallons of water a day, The water has a scalding temperature of 66 degrees Celsius and experts believe it takes 100 years for the artesian water to reach the surface. The old Goal was built in the 1890’s, Normanton was the main penal establishment during the Croydon gold rush, there are several cells with walls 18 inches thick, the goal was used as a watch house for a 100 years, later, in the 1990’s the new police station was built.The aboriginal tribes “Kurtijar ’and ‘Kwantha” occupied much of the area along the north east side of the Norman River and in accordance with tradition, several burial sites were established, these sites are not open to the public
Normanton is proud to call itself the Barramundi fishing capitol of the north and popular Barramundi fishing spots include the fishing Warf, the old Norman Bridge, the Corduroy, and for those with their own boat, launch at the Norman River only meters from the town, the Normanton Barramundi Classic is held annually over the Easter holiday period, other species found in abundance in the Norman River are king salmon, bream and the scrumptious mud crab. The inland fresh water lagoons of the Norman are home to redclaw, yabbies’ and barramundi. Be aware of the salt water crocodiles in and around the Norman River when selecting your fishing spot. The Norman River flows to Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The Normanton Country Show, Gymkhana and Rodeo are held annually over 4 days in June, watch these cowboys and horse enthusiasts perform in the outback and enjoy all the novelties and friendly hospitality of an outback country show.
Normanton is located on the Norman River in the south eastern corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland, linked to the Savannah Way, and it is the home of the famous Gulflander Train. Normanton is 13 hours (753k) from the city of Cairns on the east coast and 1 hour 15 minutes from Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
HISTORY In 1644 Abel Janzoo Tasman named the Gulf of Carpentaria and sailed to the mouth of the Norman River, naming it Van Diemen’s River, later in 1867 when Fredrick Walker, one of the many explorers looking for Burk & Wills, named it the Norman River after the Commander of H.M.C.S. Victoria, Captain W.H. Norman, the site for the present day Normanton was chosen when William Landsborough sailed up the Norman River. Normanton was thought to rival Darwin as a port but when the Croydon gold petered out so did the aspirations for the Normanton Port.