Normanton is the major commercial centre of the Carpentaria Shire situated on the Norman River. The Carpentaria Shire is the size of Tasmania and has just 2 towns, Normanton and Karumba.
It sits high on an ironstone ridge between the edge of the Savannah grasslands to the west and the wetlands to the north.
The area surrounding Normanton comprises coastal saltpans and mangrove fringed river systems. There are numerous waterholes and ephemeral wetlands, which are an internationally recognised location for an estimated one third of Australia’s migratory wading birds, including Brolgas and Sarus Crane.
Established by William Landsborough in 1868 as a port for the Gulf’s cattle industry and later grew in importance with the discovery of gold at Croydon in 1885. Over the next decade, it became an important port. The large Burns Philp building is evidence of this. The Normanton/Croydon railway line was opened in 1891 with the Gulflander railmotor running a weekly service between the towns. By this time though, gold diggings were in decline as was the whole area.