3rd August, 2015.
There are a number of interesting buildings in the town of Normanton, not least of which is the well preserved Railway Station, home of the Gulflander train.
The railway line between Croydon and Normanton was started in 1888 and completed in 1891. Croydon was a gold mining town and Normanton was its port on the Norman River, upriver from Karumba, where supplies were shipped for delivery by rail to Croydon.
One of the very interesting facts about this railway line is the railway sleepers used for the entire length. Due to the nature of the flood plain through which the line runs, an engineer designed steel u-shaped sleepers to allow flood waters to flow through and around the line to mitigate flood damage. This design is unique in the world. There is no ballast under the sleepers. To date, 90% of the sleepers originally laid are still in use, with just a small percentage being replaced due to corrosion. Traditional timber sleepers would only last around three years in this environment.
Today the Gulflander is purely a tourist train although it can be pressed into service delivering mail and essential goods during the wet season when the roads are closed and the line is still passable for the train. There are a number of different trips that can be made on the Gulflander. We chose the two hour return trip to Critters Camp for a taste of yesteryear. During the trip, we were treated to a commentary of local history and facts by the driver.
This pole shows the flood heights recorded over the years. The photo was taken from the train, already quite a bit above ground. It is almost beyond belief that flood waters could be so high.
The driver told us that if the train was ever to break down, this bicycle was to be used to cycle to Normanton for help. I think he may have been joking!
At our destination at Critters Camp, it was necessary to turn the train around. No turntable here. It was a matter of reversing and the guard throwing switches to get us back on the right track.
The railway bridge across the Norman River built after one of the more recent floods.
We thoroughly enjoyed our train trip and the 50% discount for Seniors was welcomed.
Normanton has some lovely old buildings.
This building houses the Information Centre – one of the better ones we have seen.
I think it is a while since this old girl has had a wet keel.
And a bit of Trivia.
And here we have the old grey mare…I have finally let my hair go grey on this trip. It was just too difficult to try to keep on top of it!