We left Mt Surprise early just after breakfast and made it to Normanton late afternoon. We had planned to stop somewhere along the way in case the trip and road conditions were unfavourable, but the road on the western side of Georgetown got better than the standard single lane (gravel sides) Gulf roads. After a couple of beers at the Purple Pub and photos with the Crocodile, we drove on through the wetlands to Karumba. Our destination was the Gulf Country Caravan Park in the heart of Karumba.
We were greeted by a caravan site overlooking the mine processing plant, old derelict buildings built along the river and the Live Shipping Quarantine area. It seemed that we were also camping in the back paddock of the caravan park, away from the swimming pool in which the kids were hanging to play in.
Michelle and looked at each other in disbelief so I called the other caravan park, unfortunately it was also full of migrating nomads from Victoria.
So reluctantly we set the van up on the dry grass and tried to make the most of our situation. We had also made the mistake of paying for 3 days. A lesson we learnt early on in our travel was to pay for 2 then add another day on if we liked the park and region.
Perhaps we expected too much compared to other places we had visited while we travelled around Australia. It was going to be an interesting 3 days!
History of Karumba
A bit of history about Karumba if anyone’s interested? If not, skip to the following paragraph.
In 1870s, a telegraph line was established between Karumba and Cardwell and used as a base for the flying boats on their trek from Australia to England and during World War II it was a base for the RAAF.
Later, it became the centre of a large prawning fleet and processing factory. Commercial barramundi fishing, crabbing and live cattle exports.
The port is also home to Century Mine’s huge dewatering plant and shipping facilities. Zinc and lead are mined near Lawn Hill and pumped through a 300km pipeline to Karumba where its are processed. The MV Wunma, a self- discharging transfer barge, carries 5000t loads out to the bulk carriers anchored about 20 nautical miles offshore. The lead and zinc are then shipped to Port Pirie and Hobart as well as Asia and America.
The locals informed me that the mine was close to closing down unfortunately. Not good for the local community.
Tourism has played a large part in Karumba since the road into town was sealed. Many caravanners stay for the winter to hopefully catch the elusive and prized barramundi. Large crocs are part of the river system here, and you can almost always spot a few if you travel up the Norman River in a tinnie or on a croc spotting charter.
A drive to Karumba Point Beach to enjoy barra and chips from Ash’s takeaway at sunset is an absolute must. They do a $5 barra and chips. We sat in the Apex park across the road and ate our dinner while watching the famous sunset.
Karumba township consists of a small supermarket, pub, butcher, baker, post office, police station and pharmacy – all within easy walking distance of the caravan park. There is also mechanical and marine workshops, a fuel outlet, a library, and the bowls and golf club is close by.
Stocking up supplies
We were unlucky to try to stock up on our groceries the day before it was supplied by the weekly delivery truck. Sadly to say, we had to eat weeties for a couple of meals after a not so successful shop. Apparently its like a grey haired fight after the truck arrives and the ladies restock the shelves!
Lachy and I had been looking forward to taking a fishing charter however upon half a days investigation, we found that they werent catching anything. One guy had paid for a full day and caught a bream! One fishing charter even asked if I was interested in buying their business! No thankyou.
We should have done a charter while we were in Cape York but thought we would do one at the legendary Karumba. Wrong choice!
We thought about trying our luck from the bank so we sat and watched a few people bringing in 10cm to 15cm fish so we gave that a miss.
After 3 days of staying in the fishing town of Karumba, we were looking forward to getting a move on to Lawn Hill National Park. Apart form the amazing sunset, we didn’t think much of Karumba.