Lonely Rails in the Gulf Country (Book)
The Normanton to Croydon line was originally to go from Normanton to the Cloncurry copper field, but was diverted east after the Croydon goldfield boomed. During the brief heyday of Croydon, this railway, then with several locomotives and carriages and a fleet of wagons, was its lifeline. None of several schemes to extend it, especially to a better port, came to fruition.
From 1910 to 1980 or so, the story is of less and less, traffic, staff and rolling stock, the least busy railway on earth. It was operated by a rail motor and a few wagons, with almost all duties except maintaining the track combined into one man, the Officer-in-Charge. Connections were once made with shipping into Normanton, and road services into Croydon. That road service brought goods and mail from the nearest railhead at Forsayth.
Overland travel from Cairns to Normanton by rail, road and rail again took four days. After 1961 it was the last isolated section of the Queensland Railways. With road improvements, by 1980 the line was performing no transport task at all.
Since then it has become much busier, with tourists. It has been necessary to provide more rolling stock to carry them, and, to allow track maintenance to be improved, a light diesel locomotive and more rolling stock, all brought to Normanton by road. But it remains very much an outpost and an extreme contrast to the modem heavy duty railway.
In this THIRD EDITION, the history has been brought up to date, some corrections and additions made, and new illustrations added. The corrections cover how the steel sleepers were packed, where steel and timber sleepers were laid originally, the delay in constructing sections 2 and 3, the original location of Haydon, the camping quarters at Blackbull, and the altitudes en route.