Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of CouncilsEconomic profile
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About the area

Name origin

Carpentaria Shire is named after the Gulf of Carpentaria, which is thought to be named after the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Pieter de Carpentier.

Location and boundaries

Carpentaria Shire is located in Far North Queensland, about 2,000 kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD, and 700 kilometres west of the Cairns CBD. Carpentaria Shire is bounded by Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire and Cook Shire in the north, Mareeba Shire, Etheridge Shire and Croydon Shire in the east, McKinlay Shire and Cloncurry Shire in the south, and Burke Shire and the Gulf of Carpentaria in the west.

Included areas

Carpentaria Shire includes the localities of Carpentaria, Fielding, Howitt, Karumba, Maramie, Normanton, Savannah, Stokes and Yagoonya.

Economic region
Carpentaria (S)

Land use

Carpentaria Shire is a largely rural area, with small townships at the administrative centre of Normanton and the fishing port of Karumba. Land is used largely for cattle grazing, with fishing and mining also being important industries. The Shire encompasses a total land area of over 64,000 square kilometres.


Carpentaria Shire is served by Burke Developmental Road and the Gulflander train.

Settlement history

European settlement dates from the 1860s, when the township of Normanton was established, becoming an important port and service centre from the 1870s. A telegraph station was built at Karumba in the 1870s. Normanton boomed during the late 1800s, spurred by nearby gold discoveries at Croydon, the opening of the railway line and cattle grazing. The population declined from the early 1900s, particularly in Normanton, due to the downturn in gold mining. During the 1930s Karumba became a stopover point for flying boats between London and Australia, and was used as a RAAF base during WWII. Population growth resumed during the 1960s and 1970s, as Karumba became the centre for the Gulf fishing industry, and port facilities were developed for live cattle exports. The population was relatively stable from 2001 at about 3,100 people.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of Carpentaria Shire were the Gkuthaarn, Kukatj and Kurtijar Aboriginal people.