Croydon to Normanton is about 150km of excellent road. As good as you will get anywhere in Australia. Well Queensland anyway! Talking to other travellers I was told there wasn’t much to see in Normanton and that most went straight through to Karumba. Because I had prebooked a trip on the Gulflnder Train from Normanton to Croydon I booked into the Gulflander Motel & Caravan Park for 3 nights. It was the cheapest proper Caravan Park I have stayed at on this trip. $9 per night unpowered. Amenities while old were clean and the shower, while lacking a bit of privacy had piping hot water.
Normanton itself was reasonably clean and tidy. Its an outback town so no bells and whistles but it has character and I enjoyed my 3 days here. There is an historical walk around town with reading boards telling you about what was on different sites “back in the day”. The Purple Pub is an iconic landmark with good food and cold beer.
I was super excited to be going on The Gulflander. Billed as the train from “nowhere to nowhere” it is a 94 mile track that takes about 5 hours to travel. The train leaves Normanton every Wednesday morning at 8.30am and arrives at Croydon at 1.30pm after a morning tea stop halfway. The train returns to Normanton the following morning. There is an option to bus it back Wednesday afternoon just after 3pm arriving in Normanton at 5pm. I chose this option. All up $121 of excellent value. This includes morning tea and a souvenir tin tea mug. Because of Covid the maximum number of passengers was limited to about 25% capacity so this made the trip very pleasant. The track sits mostly directly on the ground (as opposed to using ballast under the tracks) so this makes for a very bumpy ride. So bumpy in fact that i would not recommend for those with very weak bladders or very bad lower backs. I loved it though. Very yesteryear transport. The track has a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (40kmph). It rarely gets to that speed before the half way mark at Black Bull Siding. It is the only railway line in Queensland that still runs using miles instead of kilometres. You get a running commentary along the way and had enough time to have lunch at the Croydon Hotel before catching the Cairns to Karumba Bus service back to Normanton.
I thoroughly enjoyed this side trip and recommend it to anyone holidaying in the area.