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Normanton - Billy Tea and Damper Excursion on the Gulflander

Day 36 - Saturday 15 June 2013

Another fine sunny day in Normanton with hardly a cloud in the sky - forecast 15 to 32 degrees. For Frosty's benefit we are on Site 77 with a nice shady tree just past the amenities block.

Site 77 with a shady tree

Site 77 with a shady tree

We started the day with an early breakfast and were on our way just before 8:30 am for the Normanton Railway Station for our Gulflander Excursion to Critters Camp with morning tea at the 11 mile waterhole on the way back. The train comprises three old rail-motors all about 60 years old, with two converted to carriages. The first motorised unit is powered by a Gardiner 102 HP diesel, with an unusual drive arrangement through a tail-shaft and differential to a single axle at the rear of the unit.

Gulflander drive unit

Gulflander drive unit

Standard front bogie unit

Standard front bogie unit

Rear axle drive through a tail-shaft and differential

Rear axle drive through a tail-shaft and differential

Normanton is the administrative centre for the Carpentaria Shire which covers an area the size of Tasmania but only 2,500 people.
The railway line from Normanton had originally been planned to go to Cloncurry to bring ore from the copper mines to the Port at Normanton. However gold was discovered at Croydon before the line was completed and the line was changed to service Croydon instead. The line was constructed across the flood plains and the track is laid straight on the ground without ballast, because that would be washed away in the floods. Over 90% of the original U-shaped sleepers are still in service 120 years later, proving the effectiveness of the original design.

Unique U-shaped steel sleepers laid without ballast

Unique U-shaped steel sleepers laid without ballast

Flood markers

Flood markers

The Excursion took us to Critters Camp, so named by a fettler who sat on a scorpion and was bitten on the back-side. At Critters Camp a Y track is used to turn the train around, before stopping at 11 Mile Waterhole for morning tea on the way back to Normanton. Morning tea comprised tea or coffee, served with a choice of croissants, scones, and damper served with jam and cream. There was more than enough for the 80-90 passengers who had made the trip. While we were having morning tea we were entertained by folk singer with a guitar raising money for the Flying Doctor Service.

Cattle grazing near the railway line

Cattle grazing near the railway line

Crossing the Norman River

Crossing the Norman River

Critters Camp

Critters Camp

Di with the Gulflander

Di with the Gulflander

Victorian drinking team from Cloncurry

Victorian drinking team from Cloncurry

David and Di in front of the Gulflander

David and Di in front of the Gulflander

Morning tea laid out

Morning tea laid out

Tawny frogmouth hiding in a tree

Tawny frogmouth hiding in a tree

Morning tea entertainment

Morning tea entertainment

Last steam locomotive taken out of service in 1929

Last steam locomotive taken out of service in 1929

Back at camp in the afternoon David decided to take up Frosty's challenge to visit all three pubs in Normanton to find which one of them served the coldest beer. He started with the Albion where five locals and two visitors from the caravan park were enjoying a chilled refresher or two. Next stop was the Central Hotel which was deserted, apart from a regular stream of locals making purchases at the bottle shop. Finally he went to the Purple Pub where 4 locals and 3 visitors from the caravan park were watching the AFL football on TV. Given the it was late in the last quarter David had a second beer and watched Richmond give the Crows a lesson. Go Tigers!!

The Albion Hotel

The Albion Hotel

The Central Hotel

The Central Hotel

The Purple Pub

The Purple Pub

As to which pub has the coldest beer the result was inconclusive and a second visit may be called for tomorrow.

Posted by TwoAces 23:51

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Comments

David,

An excellent result, I couldn't agree more that a second visit is needed. :)

Frosty.

by snowman3195

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