Calling all twitchers. Take your binoculars to the 9000-hectare Mutton Hole Wetlands Regional Park located between Karumba and Normanton for the best birdwatching in the Gulf. Spot whistling-ducks, sarus cranes, brolgas, pelicans and jabirus.
This park is part of the largest continuous estuarine wetland aggregation in northern Queensland. The parkland holds international significance as a breeding, feeding, moulting and drought refuge for birds.
From November to April these wetlands come alive as the monsoon rain replenishes dry waterways and lakes, attracting all varieties of birdlife. Oh, and be warned – a few crocs live in this park too.
MORNING GLORY CLOUD PHENOMENON
Karumba is the sunrise specialist, home to what might be the most awe-inspiring sunrises you will ever witness, especially if you time your visit to coincide with the morning glory clouds rolling in over the horizon. The Gulf is the only spot on earth where morning glory clouds can be predicted and observed on a regular basis. The morning glory clouds are a rare meteorological phenomenon and are considered the rarest cloud of the ‘Arcus Cloud’ family. The spectacular effect is formed when two sea breezes collide, causing low-level atmospheric waves that are 1-2km high and span up to 1,000 km long. The onset of this phenomenon is usually marked by cool ocean temperatures with warm land temperatures, sea breeze and high humidity.
Your best chance of catching this event is to visit during September to November but it can occur anytime conditions are favourable. For those that are feeling adventurous you can soar through the sky with Gulf Helicopters during this phenomenon by calling on (07) 4745 1290 to make arrangements.
Pay a visit to a working tribute to the early pioneers, The Gulflander. Affectionately known as the ‘Tin Hare’, this fully operational 1950 railmotor continues to venture through the countryside, on its nostalgic journeying from ‘nowhere to nowhere’ - Croydon to Normanton. Small numbers of passengers are treated to morning tea, trivia, wildlife spotting and story telling.
STARGAZING AND SUNSETS
The best things in life really are free when visiting the Gulf of Carpentaria. Enjoy social media-worthy sunsets or in the evening, take a front row seat to the galaxy and marvel at the amazing stars illuminating he night sky.
You’ll be sure to get your daily step count in with a walk or cycle around the Gulf’s walking trails. Follow the walk between Karumba Point and Karumba for a 3.6km one-way scenic walk, or explore Normanton and Karumba townships on the Location and Heritage Walk (see maps, page 16 for more information).
If you want to get wet in the Gulf, you’re best to visit the local swimming pools and water parks in Normanton and Karumba. Never swim in the rivers and waterholes as there are plenty of saltwater and freshwater crocodiles about. Be croc-safe!