FL35 The Gulf of Carpentaria

Georgetown to Normanton

On June 28th, I took off from Georgetown mid-afternoon and made my way across to Normanton. It was quite a warm day and the thermals were going off, so I climed to 8500 feet where it was lovely and smooth.

I landed at Normanton just before sunset. The airport regional officer, Derek, met us at the gate and allowed us to take the microlight trailer in so I could pack it down again while we stayed in town.

Flying over Norman River
Waiting at Georgetown
Normanton Airport
Packing up the trike at Normanton

We were stuck in Normanton for about 10 days, so lots more birding to be had! Our first visit was to Mutton Hole Wetlands in town. The highlights here were flocks of Pink-eared Ducks as well as Brolgas and Sarus Cranes ✅

Mutton Hole Wetlands
Pink-eared Ducks
Black-fronted Dotterel
Brolga family

We also drove across to Karumba to see the migratory shorebirds at Karumba Point. Karumba Point is internationally significant for Black-tailed Godwit, Far Eastern Curlew, Red Knot, Greater Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Even though it was winter, we still saw large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits and Red-necked Stints that were overwintering. There was even a Terek Sandpiper and a few Marsh Sandpipers too! 🐦🐦🐦

Mudflats at Karumba on the Gulf of Carpentaria
Black-tailed Godwits
Terek Sandpiper
Red-necked Stints and Marsh Sandpiper

I wanted to get some more footage of shorebirds in the Gulf, so did a solo trip across to Burketown for the weekend. My plans were thwarted though by a strong cold front that came through and brought with it steady rains and strong winds.

Instead, I had a quiet time to myself in my cabin! It was delightful. The road to Burketown is the Savannah Way and much of it is dirt. Needless to say that after the rain my car was in desperate need of a good wash! 

I did see some good birds on the way back to Normanton though, so that made it worth it. All the way along the road were huge flocks of Budgerigars and Cockatiels that would fly up as I drove past. I also saw Flock Bronzewing, which was a lifer for me 🥰✅ 

Terek Sandpiper
Black-tailed Godwits
Terek Sandpiper
Red-necked Stints and Marsh Sandpiper

When I got back to Normanton, Grant and I set the trike up ready to fly to Mount Isa except the winds didn’t die down enough for me to take off. The footage from the livestream is pretty much just me deliberating on whether or not I should fly.

I ended up staying on the ground and I’m glad I did! The plan was to take off the next morning, except when I woke up I was exhausted with fatigue and had brain fog. I knew I’d been glutened by the food I ate at the pub a couple of nights before 😓

For the first time on this trip, I made the difficult decision to pack up the trike and drive to Mount Isa so I could get the food I needed to be well. Driving to Mount Isa, I was so disappointed as I could see that the conditions for flying that morning were sublime! 

Packing up the trike at Normanton Airport

If you missed the livestream for Flight Leg 35 from Georgetown to Normanton, you can watch the livestream replay on YouTube by clicking the link below.

Milly Formby
Milly Formby is a zoologist, pilot, and illustrator of the children’s book, A Shorebird Flying Adventure She is currently flying her microlight around Australia in 2022/23 to share,A Shorebird Flying Adventure with primary students.
Image credits:
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

Available Now

Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Available now through CSIRO Publishing.

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