Wednesday, 16 April 2014

for N

is for Normanton

I finished University at the end of 2000, a time where jobs were pretty scarce for teachers. I didn't get a job straight away and that was pretty rough. I spent times ringing district offices asking if there were any jobs available, short term contracts...whatever! I was getting pretty desperate and down in the dumps feeling like 4 years of University was a waste of time while I continued to work in a furniture shop.

Finally the many many phone calls paid off when I was offered a 6 month contract in Normanton. I did not really have much of a clue where it was but given that I was ringing Mt Isa, I knew it was 'up there' somewhere! I quickly grabbed a map and accepted the offer. 
There is it way up in the Gulf!!
It wasn't long before the removalists arrived, the plane ticket was booked and I was on my way! Approximately 2050km away from my family and friends. I didn't have much time to think about it and if I did I probably wouldn't have gone. I started at the beginning of Semester 2, I flew from Brisbane to Cairns, and then got in the smallest plane I had ever been in and flew from Cairns to Normanton. I really am not sure what my first impressions were but I do remember being a little nervous, scared and hot! Yep HOT! It was the middle of Winter so leaving Brisbane I was quite rugged up, I was not quite ready for the muggyness that Normanton had on offer when I got off that plane. 

Normanton is an isolated community in the Gulf of Carpentaria (according to Wikipedia it's population is 1100 people, 60% of which are indigenous). I am not going to lie, it was tough. The kids were tough, the teaching was tough, the isolation was tough, the lack of many creature comforts was tough but I wouldn't change it for anything. I gave me such a great insight into what teaching was really like, it taught me how to be a better teacher, taught me more about behaviour management and differentiation better than any other school I have worked at since. 

I was lucky enough that there were some other young single teachers there in the same boat as me and we quickly struck a friendship. It was also typical of any of those types of rural communities in that it wasn't long before all the young ringers from surrounding properties came to town to check out the new teachers! Like any of those places, life is what you make of it and so many a weekend we would drive north to Karumba, the most amazing place to watch the sunset. We would often just go for 2 or 3 hours drives on the weekend just because we could! It was also nothing for us to drive the 5 hours to Mt Isa for a weekend, a bit of retail therapy and arrive back with a car full of shopping and KFC after people had put in their orders.

I left Normanton after a challenging relationship I was in ended, being in such a small community it wasn't appropriate for me to stay. I did a year and a term in Normanton and although it presented me with lots of challenges and I would never go back, I wouldn't change the experience.
This was home during my time in Normanton, my duplex was on the left. There was no street really as our home was tucked in behind the Police Station in what was dubbed 'Teachers Corner'. 
 Normanton's famous Purple Pub... Yes I did spend a bit of time there..
 Sunset on the Norma River during a Croc watching tour. We had the BEST sunset views from the river and also from our front balcony.
 "Krys the Crocodile" - no trip to Normanton is complete until you've had your photo with Krys the Croc. This is a replica of what is believed to be the biggest crocodile shot in QLD. Krystina Pawlowski apparently shot the Croc on the banks of the Norman River in 1957.
Athletics carnival on the school oval! No lush green grass here and most kids run without shoes (some of them didn't even own shoes) as they feel like the shoes slow them down!

So if you are ever planning a fishing adventure in North QLD, definitely put Normanton and Karumba on the list!



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