Photos of the Gulf Region of Far North Queensland, Australia

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The Gulf Region of Far North Queensland

This is the real remote Outback, skirting the Gulf of Carpentaria from the border with the Northern Territory to Cape York. Coming from the east along the Gulf Developmental Road the landscape changes from the lush country east of the Great Dividing range to the dry outback, from Mount Surprise to Georgetown. Continuing west for almost 150 kilometres, the town of Croydon is reached. In its heyday in 1890 as a gold town it had a population of 35,000, but by 1906 the gold had all but run out. Its claim to fame is now that from here there is still a weekly train to Normanton, another 150 kilometres further west. The Gulflander railway line was built in 1907. About 70 kilometres further on is Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria. It used to be a telegraph station and a base for the Empire Mail Service, when flying boats stopped here on their way to and from Europe. Nowadays it is a port for a commercial fishing fleet.

Doomadgee
 
Welcome to Burketown
 
Leichhardt River
 
Crossing the Leichhardt
 
 
Karumba harbour
 
Normanton
 
Croydon hotel
 
Mount Surprise Hotel
 
Nicholson River
 
Burketown Post Office
 
Elizabeth Creek
 
 
From Duwadarri Lookout
 
Lawn Hill Creek
 
Lawn Hill Creek
 
Lawn Hill Gorge view
 
Indarri Falls
 
Lawn Hill Creek
 
Adel's Grove
 
Normanton's
 
Club Hotel, Croydon
 
Einasleigh River
 
Accommodation in Undara
 
Firth Bluff view
 
View to Commissioners' Cap
 
100 Mile Swamp
 
Sunset Hill view
 
Barker's Cave
 
McClothier Tube
 
Wind Tunnel
 
Heritage Hut
 
Road Cave
 
Commissioners' Cap view
 
Kalkani Volcano
 
Road sign
 

Normanton started as a port on the river leading to the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1867 and it became prosperous when gold was discovered in Croydon. Today it is still a service and administration centre and the "Purple Pub" is a well known landmark. Almost 230 kilometres further west along a dirt road is Burketown, settled in 1865 as a real wild west town. The town is nowadays the centre of the cattle industry but still has a frontier feel about it. It is considered the Gateway to the Gulf, as from here fishing expeditions can be organised. About 90 kilometres further on, halfway to the Northern Territory border and on the Nicholson River is Doomadgee, an Aboriginal community, started as a mission station of the Christian Brothers but now self-governing.

South of there, along a bumpy road about 100 west of Gregory Downs, on the border with the Northern Territory, is beautiful Boodjamulla or Lawn Hill National Park with its wonderful gorges, waterfalls and cool swimming holes, a veritable oasis in this otherwise arid landscape. The Waanyi Aboriginal people have strong cultural ties with the park. At the eastern end of the Gulf Development Road is Undara Volcanic Park, one of Australia's greatest geological wonders. It is 275 kilometres south west of Cairns on the Gulf Development Road and has the best preserved and largest lava tube system on Earth. "Undara" is an Aboriginal word meaning "a long way". Its story began some 190,000 years ago, when it erupted and the molten lava flowed into a nearby dry riverbed. The external lava quickly cooled and crusted, but underneath, a fiery flow snaked it's way through, leaving a drained, hardened exterior to create long, dark, hollow tubes.