Long and possibly dull Outback SA and QLD report - Normanton defended.

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Long and possibly dull Outback SA and QLD report - Normanton defended.
From: Angus Innes <>
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 20:35:57 +0000
I agree with others that David Kowalick's report was a great read. Refreshingly 
personalised, it provided listing with immediacy and a dash of local colour. 
Let's have more of that style..

I just want to add a note of historical justice to correct a passing comment he 
makes about yet another important Australian town fallen on hard times.

 David writes "Incidentally Normanton has got to be the worst planned town 
(apart from Canberra of course) in Australia. Random shops and petrol outlets 
kilometres apart with no one shop having everything one might need. Made us 
tour the town and maybe that is the plan."

That drop-in, very brief, morning visit by David and Tait was, we read, a few 
minutes in an enormous day trip that ended up in Atherton, almost a time zone, 
at least two climatic sytems, and goodness-knows how many ecosystems, to the 

If only Normanton could speak for itself! What he saw was not planned.

I first saw Normanton in the early sixties, whilst travelling across Northern 
Australia on the pillion of a Triumph Thunderbird. We camped for a few days a 
little out of town at the Norman River Crossing.  On one day we went into 
Normanton for haircuts and a few supplies. Three things about Normanton were 
indelibly printed on my memory, two of which contravert David's assessment. 
Firstly, after riding round the relatively compact Normanton township, which 
took about five minutes, we had found the pub, the barber's shop and the 
splendid Burns Philp store - and we had noted the open-barn railway terminus 
for that unique railway line on which runs the "Gulf Lander". The second 
bookmark on the memory disc (a digression from the planning point) was the most 
extraordinary haircutting experience I ever had. We found the barber's shop 
empty, the barber propping up the bar in the centrally located pub (it was 
lunchtime) and received his laconic statement "The shops open, there's some 
perfectly good clippers in the shop, you do your mate and by the time you 
finish I will be back from "lunch" to do you - and your mates haircut wont cost 
ya". The third, and major, point concerns the Burns Philp Store. I never 
entered a more fascinating, diverse and well stocked store in my life. 
Absolutely everything from saddlery, to clothing, to foodstuffs, to fencing, to 
guns and ammunition, brands and toiletries was on display and hanging from the 
rafters. Everything needed for cattle station life throughout the year, in an 
area where being marooned for months in the wet season is common, was 
available. Google "Burns Philp Normanton store" and read of its trail blazing 
importance as Burns Philp's first major northern Australian trading operation.

Canberra was designed to be to be the place that it continues to be, and is 
buffered by the continuing industry of government  Burns Phip Store was not 
built to self destruct. Normanton is yet another once bouyant and complete 
township fallen on hard times, with the holes in the urban fabric representing 
failures in the mining industry, changes in the cattle industry, advances in 
transport and communications and white ants.

Oh and Birding! In my sixties trip the strongest bird memory are of Bustards 
everywhere - and so easy to approach with any vehicle, including a motorbike. 
Bustards every few miles.

Angus Innes.

We want to hear all your funny, exciting and crazy Hotmail stories. Tell us 
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Long and possibly dull Outback SA and QLD report - Normanton defended., Angus Innes <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU