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Normanby catchment story

The catchment stories present a story using real maps that can be interrogated, zoomed in and moved to explore the area in more detail. They are used to take users through multiple maps, images and videos to provide engaging, in-depth information.

Quick facts

This map journal
is part of a series of catchment stories prepared for Queensland.

Download catchment boundary KML

Normanby catchment story – Catchment Overview

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The Normanby Catchment is located in Far North Queensland, to the west of Cooktown (click to play animation).

The Normanby-Hann Basin is the fourth largest basin that drains into the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon, and managing the catchment to minimise sediment and nutrient run-off will contribute to improving water quality in freshwater and estuarine ecosystems of the catchment and on the GBR.

The Normanby Catchment covers approximately 14,837 square kilometres, and the Normanby-Hann Basin covers approximately 24,395 square kilometres.

Major waterways

The major waterways in the catchment are the Normanby, Kennedy, Mosman, Laura, Deighton, Jack and Marrett rivers, along with many smaller waterways.

All these waterways meet on a broad floodplain, where there can be exchange with the adjacent Hann Catchment, and flow to the World Heritage-listed GBR, via Princess Charlotte Bay (click to play animation).

The Normanby Catchment is bound by the Jeannie, Endeavour and Daintree catchments to the east, the Palmer Catchment to the south, and the Hann Catchment to the west.

The catchment is within the Cook Shire Council area.

Main image. Princess Charlotte Bay - provided by Andrew Brooks.

Values of the catchment

The Normanby Catchment contains a wealth of natural, cultural and economic values.

Much of the catchment is protected by national parks: Rinyirru (Lakefield) and Muundhi (Jack River) are the largest and both are Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL), which is jointly managed by Traditional Owners and the Queensland Government. The catchment also includes Princess Charlotte Bay Fish Habitat Area (FHA), nature refuges and DIWA-listed wetlands (Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia).

Magnetic termite mounds of Lakefield National Park - provided by Matt Wallace ©Queensland Government.

The Traditional Owners of this region have an important connection to country within the Normanby Catchment and beyond. Physical evidence of Traditional Owner occupation can be seen right throughout the catchment including rock art sites such as the Quinkan rock art which is nominated for Australian heritage listing.*

The catchment includes large areas of important land uses** such as grazing and cropping, which effectively support Lakeland and increasingly Laura, and the continuing development of live export of cattle and farming in this region.

Only around 500 people live in this catchment***, which includes the small townships of Lakeland, Laura and Lakefield, several homesteads and remote communities.

Linked video. Cattle - provided by Tim Hughes.

*Australian Heritage Database - Quinkan Country, Peninsula developmental Rd, Laura, QLD, Australia (Department of Environment and Energy 2017) - see links at the of this map journal for further information.

**Land use is provided by the Queensland Land Use Mapping Program (QLUMP), which maps and assesses land use patterns and changes across the state, according to the Australian Land Use and Management Classification. QLUMP is part of the Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program (ACLUMP), coordinated by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. ACLUMP promotes nationally consistent land use information. Government, the private sector, research agencies and community groups use the QLUMP datasets for natural resource assessment, monitoring and planning (see links at the end of this map journal for further information regarding Australian Land Use and Management Classification).

***Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006) in Normanby Catchment Water Quality Management Plan (Howley et al 2013) - see links at the end of map journal for further information.

Values of the catchment - economic

Land use is mostly grazing on native pastures*, together with much smaller areas of other farming, residential, services, airstrips, electricity supply and mining (both operational and abandoned). Roads, tracks and other linear infrastructure such as fence lines are also an important component of the economy.

Teak plantations in the foreground and new banana field in the background, Lakeland - provided by Jeff Shellberg.

The estuarine areas support commercial and recreational fisheries (fish, and crustaceans like prawns and crabs). Fishing is also an important activity for Traditional Owners.

Tourism is becoming increasingly important to the economy of the area, as well as increasing the threats and challenges for protecting the environment.

Main image. Cattle grazing native pastures - provided by Robbie Burns ©Queensland Government.

Please note there is a drop down legend for most maps and it can be accessed by clicking on 'LEGEND' at the top right of the map. On this map you can use the drop down legend for the protected areas.

*Grazing is mapped as ‘grazing on native pastures’ when there is a substantial native species component, despite extensive active modification or replacement of native vegetation. If there is greater than 50 per cent native pastures then the area is classified as ‘grazing on native pastures’. If there are no native species, the area is classified as ‘grazing on modified pastures (see links at the end of this map journal for further information regarding land use management classification).

Last updated: 13 October 2017

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2017) Normanby catchment story – Catchment Overview, WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation