Mt Isa to Cooktown and the Gulf of Carpentaria

I want to say a big HELLO to the year 1 Pupils,Teachers and Staff of Skyswood School, St Albans, England.

I heard that you have been following some of my blog…I think that is fantastic. Good to have you all as pillion passengers..It’s getting crowded on Azulo!

I believe you particularly liked the Aboriginal Art photos from Arnhem Land?

The place we visited was called  injalak Arts and Crafts. Look up the following link for more info. Click here

Back to the trip

The parts for Azulo arrived on Monday so I had five days in Mount Isa…more than enough!

I then rode to Normanton near the Gulf and then to Karumba, a small fishing port on the Gulf of Carpentaria. From there I travelled 680 k to Atherton near Cairns via Georgetown, then up to Cooktown on a simply wonderful road……lots of bends and corners……something I haven’t seen much of for thousands of miles!

Mount Isa

Mount Isa is home for Mt Isa Mines, a huge copper, lead, zink and silver complex that has some 900 kilometers of tunnels and at one point supplied 60% of the world’s copper!

It’s also the seat for Queensland’s very unusual Politician Bob Katter!…Actually I saw him whizzing through town with a police escort! (sorry to my overseas readers…totally meaningless to you)

I was fortunate that my friends Kevin and Janice arrived in their caravan. They were great company.

Kevin and Janice Taylor. Kevin was on my motorbike tour of Bhutan, India and Nepal in 2010

We visited the nearby lake and stopped to take a photo. Janice looked up into the tree and saw a big nest…maybe an eagle…She then noticed a large bird hanging out of the nest being suffocated by a snake..ugh! The snake killed the bird and doubtless then made for the chicks in the next. Horrible but nature at work.

I was relieved when I received a call from the bike shop saying Azulo was fixed. They were terrific.

The bike shop and staff deserve a big wrap. The shop is called Ajax and the mechanic was Shane. Terrific service.

Shane (right) and Duane. Great mechanics at Ajax Yamaha

Refreshed and full of energy, Azulo pounded down the 600K to the little town of Normanton, 80k from Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

On the way I stopped off at Cloncurry and visited the John Flynn Museum. John Flynn was founder of the Royal Flyin Doctor Service (and now is featured on our $20.00 note). At Cloncurry there is another Museum where they proudly display the water bottle found at the site where Burke and Wills died. Actually there is a little note by the bottle which says there is a dispute whether or not it’s the actual bottle!

Burke or Wils water bottle at Cloncurry


Normanton is a small, sleepy place but it is full of charm in a strange way. There really isn’t much there but it’s worth the trip…It’s got one wide street with some lovely old buildings and quite a few Pubs! A real outback town..I found a cafe where they serve bacon and eggs to die for…I went there twice!

Very purple

My hotel…surprisingly good


My goal was to see the Gulf of Carpentaria. Karumba is a sleepy but nice little fishing Port on the Gulf. I think it is about the only town with a beach on the Gulf, (I might be wrong about that)

I went on another sunset cruise…I hate to say this but sunsets are becoming a little like visiting churches in Europe…all wonderful but do I really have to see another!!…I’m sounding a bit like the weary traveller aren’t I?

This boat trip was excellent. For $50.00 they filled us with wine, prawns, cheese and salad…we also had the cruise!

I had to go fishing didn’t I?

Unfortunately…this is where my camera finally died, luckily I have the iphone.

We left at 7.00am and this is a SUNRISE!

My fish cooked by the Pub…Chips & Salad added for $7.50!

There is a Barramundi Hatchery here. They are amazing fish. At birth they are all male and somehow when they are old enough, some change to female. They lay their eggs on only one night of the year and then at full moon. The eggs fertilise in 12 hours…Only 1% survive.

Another interesting thing is that Barra from this area will not breed further afield. Similarly Barra from other areras will only breed around their area. It’s something to do with water temperature.

The hatchery was necessary as the Barra is becoming fished out. They restock all the rivers that feed into this part of the Gulf.

I also saw some Jabaru..lovely birds and very graceful with red legs!

After leaving Karumba I headed for Cooktown and eventually reached Atherton, a nice town in the Atherton Table lands. There are some nice towns on the way and I briefly stopped in Croydon and Geogetown. There are some interting places off the main road but I don’t have time to visit such as Cobbold Gorge and Undara Volcanic National Park. There’s so much to see!


Cooktown is the farthest north I’m going on this trip. To visit Cape York you need a 4 wheel drive. Azulo and I have chickened out!

Cooktown is where Captain Cook repaired his ship Endeavour after it hit a reef in 1770.

I love history and stood on the hill above Cooktown where Captain Cook stood 250 years ago. You can let your imagination run wild. He stood there in mortal danger with a little wooden ship with a hole in the hull and was trying to work out how the hell to get over the reef. They were amazing people.

Hill above Cooktown. Captain Cook stood here in 1770 and tried to plot his path through the reefs

Captain Cook beached the Endeavour about here in 1770


Tomorrow, I head for Townsville via Cairns. You may wonder why I’m missing the Barrier Reef and the holiday towns such as Port Douglas and also the Daintree….. but I’ve been there with the family and this trip is for me to see places I haven’t visited before.

Bye for now.


29 thoughts on “Mt Isa to Cooktown and the Gulf of Carpentaria

  1. Hi Geoff

    Just a follow up with you about speaking at the Donvale Central Probus Club on Tuesday 19th September as we discussed in May
    Are you still OK for that date ? please let me know ASAP
    I have been following you trip and what an interesting way you depict each area also magic photos ,,,,I look forward to meeting you continued fun on your travels Trevor

  2. Glad Azulo is back on the road again. Alex was impressed by the size of the birds nest and thinks the snake won’t be hungry for a while now. I however am impressed by the size of that baramundi as well as being rather jealous as that’s my favourite fish to eat.
    We did a RFDS museum when in Cairns that was fascinating so I liked seeing your photos here. Enjoy the next bit of your trip

  3. Hi Geoff, Many thanks for the great photos and fascinating travelogue.on your round
    Australia trip! Your photos of Mt Isa were especially nostalgic as this was where I had
    my first job. When you hit Townsville don’t forget to visit Magnetic Island which is a very
    unique place, especially the first settlement there at Picnic bay.

    Cheers Noel

    • Hi Noel…thanks for your comment. I saw Magnetic Island but unfortunately didn’t have time to visit…next time?

  4. Hi Geoff,
    I am finally catching up to you on my temperamental computer ( a hand-me-down from SAM) – pleased to read that you are back on the road and and on the east coast for the downhill ride home.
    safe travels

  5. Glad to see that you’re mobile again, and sending great photos once more.
    Having said that, I must agree with your ugh! comment regarding the snake. But I’ve never seen that before – thanks for the experience!
    Interesting to hear about captain Cook; you and he have the repairing of “means of transport” in common.
    Perhaps you should rename Azulo “Endeavour 2”.
    Fishing expedition looks great fun, and good value.

  6. Hi Geoff, your comments for the children were lovely, and I am sure they will be very excited to read them so I will let you know. Very gruesome seeing a snake attack that poor bird. We were very impressed over the size of your “catch of the day”….bet it tasted good. Fantastic that Azulo is back on the road it even looked as if he had received a polish. Super photos and text. Am now going to look up Burke and Wills, thanks to you we get a travel blog and a history lesson thrown in. Take care and go well.

    • I really like the thouht of the kids looking at the blog!
      No…no polish for Azulo till we get home…don’t want to spoil him!

  7. What a fisherman! Wow! We’ll never go hungry again. And fancy you staying at the Hotel Albion. Safe travels for the rest of the journey. No more breakdowns! Jenny & Bruce.

  8. Thanks Geoff for your latest teavels with many interesting photos and comments
    Love the Baramundi you caught which made dinner much cheaper at only $7.50!
    Safe and intersting travel Geoff
    Cheers Roger

  9. Nice to see the pics of all the places you’ve been describing to me.
    At least you have a few weeks yet to acclimatise slowly to our cold weather down here as you now head south. Safe riding. Xxx. M

  10. Hi Geoff. Glad the bike is OK. Also good that you might get the extra
    guide component. Seeing you handle the fish I thought of Ernest Hemingway and ” the Old Man an The Sea” played by Spencer Tracy.
    Legendary stuff. Have you ever considered buying a trawler for a bit of deep sea fishing.
    Drive carefully as we will need you in good shape at Rye when you’re

  11. Hi Geoff,
    Glad to see you are on the road again. We are now home from our trek across Arnhem Land from Nhullonboy to Darwin – not for a motor bike though – road too corrugated!
    Did you see the large croc in the main street at Normantown – absolutely huge!.
    Look forward to seeing you on your return and having a good chat about NW Aust.

    • Hi Geoff

      Yes, i did see the large Croc in Normanton…took a photo…should have included it in the blog…Hope you enjoyed your trip…look forward to hearing about it

  12. Thanks Geoff…… all new for me, unfortunately haven’t travelled so far north yet.
    Can’t wait to see these places too. You certainly whet the appetite.
    Wonderful photography as usual and commentary.
    Keep enjoying and safe travelling.

  13. Good to see both you and Azulo are back on the road again, Geoff !
    Love the purple colour scheme of the hotel at Normanton, it looks to be a well-kept town.
    Not surprising to learn that your poor camera is worn out, lucky the phone was able to take a shot of your handsome fish…most impressive, and delicious, no doubt.
    Travel safely as you head closer to home….and very cold weather.
    Wendy and Rod.

    • Hi Wenners
      You’ll be plaesed to hear i bought a new camera in Cairns. It is still a Sony but it has a viewfinder…I don’t know how i existed without one!

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