Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Karumba QLD


Postcode: 4891

Karumba is a town in north-western Queensland, Australia, 71 km by road from Normanton and 2159 km from the state capital, Brisbane. Karumba forms part of Carpentaria Shire Council, the administrative headquarters of which is in Normanton. The town is sited at the mouth of the Norman River, and enjoys the distinction of being the only town along the southern Gulf of Carpentaria that is within sight of the Gulf itself. As such, the town’s economy revolves largely around fishing. The Karumba port services the Century Zinc mine as well as fishing.

In the 1870s a telegraph station was built on the site of the present town. It was known simply as Norman Mouth. It served a purpose but was hardly reason for a settlement to develop. Karumba first came to importance in the 1930s when it became a stopover point for flying boats on the run from London to Australia. By the 1950s it had become a popular spot for people eager to go fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Karumba’s existence is connected to the simple fact that it is on the banks of the river and it is set on sand ridges which allow direct access to the river and the sea. As Burke and Wills found out in 1861 large areas of the Gulf’s coastline are inpenetrable because of the dense mangrove swamps. In fact the bank of the river opposite the town is still inpenetrable mangroves.