Things to do in Croydon, QLD

🚂 14 Things to do in Croydon + Freedom Camping, Croydon QLD

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If you’re travelling through the Gulf Savannah region of far northwest Queensland, stopping in at Croydon is a must. This humble little town sits about about 524 km west of Cairns and 154 km east of Normanton. 

Explore what a bustling Gold Rush town was like in the 1880s with old mining sites, artefacts and the restored Heritage Precinct with reenactments.

Then settle in at the Croydon Freedom Camping ground or book into the Croydon Caravan Park to relax for the night. Grab a meal at the only remaining pub, the Club Hotel and watch the sun set over the true blue Aussie outback.

Here are 14 things to do in Croydon while you’re making your way across the top of Queensland.

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Things to Do in Croydon

True Blue Visitor Information Centre

Big Gold Nugget, Croydon QLD
Big Gold Nugget, True Blue Information Centre

The first port of call when you pull into Croydon is the True Blue Visitor Information Centre.

From there you will be able to get the map, which includes everything to do in Croydon. You’ll be surprised at how much there is to explore in this small, northwest outback town!

This is also where you register for Free Camping at the Croydon Freedom Camping area (showgrounds) for a small donation.

What’s at the Info Centre:

  • Theatrette showing ‘Gold For Now’ film
  • Antique cars
  • Gold Rush history of Croydon
  • Old mining equipment and artefacts
  • Five Head Stamper Mill
  • 3m Flywheel
  • Original Tabletop School House
Address51 – 59 Samwell Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Gulflander Train

Gulflander Train, Normanton QLD

One of the most iconic things to do in Croydon is to take a historic outback journey from Croydon to Normanton on the Gulflander. The train wanders through the Gulf country using the original train line. Take a step back in time from one restored train station to another.

Gulflander Train Schedule:

  • Departs Normanton – Wednesday 8.30 am
  • Departs Croydon – Thursday 8.30 am

The best way to experience the Gulflander is by parking at Normanton, catching the train to Croydon on Wednesday morning and staying in town for the night. The following morning (Thursday) catch the Gulflander back to Normanton to collect your car and resume your journey.

Normanton was established in 1868 to be a land/ sea port for wealthy Croydon during the Gold Rush. Here are 16 things to do in Normanton, while you’re visiting.

CostOne Way:
• Adult – $69
• Child/ Concession – $34.50

• Adult – $115
• Child/ Concession – $57.50
AddressCroydon Railway Station
Helen Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Heritage Precinct

Croydon Courthouse, QLD
Restored Court House, Croydon QLD

Head to the True Blue Visitor Information Centre and grab the Heritage Precinct map for a self-guided tour. This is one of the things to do in Croydon that both young and old will enjoy.

Heritage Precinct Buildings:

  • Police Sergeant’s Residence (c. 1898)
  • Police Station & Gaol (c. 1986)
  • Court House (c. 1887)
  • Croydon Town Hall (c. 1890)

All of the original and restored heritage buildings are open to the public complete with audio reenactments and historical information throughout.

The Court House is the oldest building in Croydon, which showcases a court case from 1902 (just press the button to listen).

Back during the gold rush days, Croydon was lit with kerosene lamps, with replicas of these still being spotted around the Heritage Precinct streets.

AddressCroydon Railway Station
63 Samwell Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Croydon BIG Things

BIG Gilbert's Dragon, Croydon QLD
Big Gilbert’s Dragon, Croydon entry sign

For those who are collecting the iconic Australian BIG Things while travelling, there are two to find in Croydon.

  1. BIG Gold Nugget – True Blue Information Centre
  2. BIG Gilbert’s Dragon – Entry sign when driving into Croydon from the East

If you haven’t got your checklist yet, you can either download the complete Aussie Big Things Checklist with over 600 items or grab the Queensland one below.

QLD Big Things Checklist

QLD Big Things Checklist

  • 17-page checklist
  • Pre-filled with 150+ items
  • Categorised into 6 regions
  • QLD Regional Map
  • Full street addresses
  • Record finds & dates

A10 Steam Locomotive Collection

A10 Steam Locomotives, Croydon QLD
Source: Australian Steam

The A10 locomotives were first introduced into Normanton because they needed transport available for the Cloncurry copper mine.

However, with the 1885 Croydon gold strike, the Croydon railway line ended up taking centre stage. The train line was necessary for transporting heavy steam machinery, goods, people and gold to and from the Norman River port in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

At its peak, Croydon was the third largest town in northern Queensland with 7,000 people living there during the gold rush.

The Croydon line was known as the railway that runs from ‘nowhere to nowhere’ and still is the last isolated and disconnected line of Queensland Rail.

You can see both the A10-202 and A10-204 on display in the Exhibition Shed at the True Blue Visitor Information Centre gardens.

Address51 – 59 Samwell Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Chinese Temple Site

Chinese Temple Site, Croydon QLD
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Croydon has a rich Chinese history from its Gold Rush era with a large portion of the population at the time being Chinese. After researching the gravestone markers from the local cemeteries back in 2007, it’s been found that most of the Chinese people who were working on the goldfields at the time all came from the Guangdong Province of China.

To see a replica of the Chinese Temple, head to the gardens of the True Blue Visitor Information Centre. The original temple can still be found at the Mining Museum, just outside of town (on the road heading towards Normanton).

Things to See at the Chinese Temple Site:

  • Chinese Heritage Trail
  • Remains of the original Chinese Temple
  • Remnants of the second largest Pig Roasting Oven in the Southern Hemisphere

Stroll around the Chinese Heritage Trail to see the remains of the Temple and what’s left of the largest pig roasting oven in the southern hemisphere.

AddressAlldridge Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Mining Museum

Mining Museum, Croydon QLD
Source: Croydon Shire Council, “Miners Hut”

On the outskirts of town, you’ll find the Cryodon Mining Museum, which sits on the original Iguana Mine Site.

What’s at the Mining Museum:

  • Restored 5 head gold mining stamper
  • Original Chinese Miners Hut of the Bing Chew family
  • Various mining equipment from 1900 era
Facilities– Toilets
Address63 Samwell Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Croydon Savannah Golf Course (FREE)

Have a round of golf on the free Croydon Savannah Golf Course, which was endorsed by Greg Norman’s Pro Team 2011.

The 9 hole golf course comes complete with artificial turf on the tees. Meander through Gulf Savannah country as you work your way through. The course is designed with both beginners and professionals in mind.

The golf course is located behind the Rodeo Grounds and is free for anyone to use. Either use your own clubs or use the sets at the Croydon Caravan Park (guests only).

A self-guided map can be collected from the True Blue Visitor Information Centre.

AddressAlldridge Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Lake Belmore

Lake Belmore, Croydon QLD
Source: Explore Oz

Lake Belmore was built in 1995 to supply Croydon with a steady and reliable supply of water.

Just 4km from town, Lake Belmore gives locals and tourists a beautiful oasis to be able to swim, fish, ski, kayak and hang out is worth more than its weight in gold.

Lake Belmore is known as the “aquatic jewel of the Gulf Savannah.”

The lake is filled with Red Claw, Barramundi, Sooty Grunter and Black Bream, ensuring that unrestricted fishing is allowed all year round. Grab your Lake Belmore fishing permit before throwing a line in, which helps to finance the restocking of supplies.

Lake Belmore Facilities:

  • Beach sand area with huge shade shelter
  • Boat Ramp
  • Sealed circular driveway around the day-use area
  • FREE electric BBQs with lights and shelter
  • Playground
  • Showers & toilets
  • Designated areas for swimming, skiing & canoeing
Facilities– Toilets
– Showers
– BBQs
AddressDam Road, Croydon QLD 4871

Federation Park

Federation Park, Croydon QLD
Source: Croydon Shire Council

Federation Park sits in the middle of town and features steel sculptures, which commemorate Croydon’s eclectic heritage. The sculptures pay tribute to the local Aboriginal culture, Chinese settlement and pastoral lands as well as the significance of the railway and gold rush history.

The War Memorial is also featured in the park, sharing names of former soldiers from Croydon who fought in the First World War, Second World War, Korean and Vietnam Wars. Every ANZAC day there are dawn and early morning services.

Visit Federation Park to let the kids stretch their legs at the park while you take a stroll around the shady trees and gardens. Use the free electric BBQs, gazebos, picnic tables and toilets to relax and freshen up.

There’s also an asphalt Pump Track with different challenges, perfect for bikes, skateboards, scooters and rollerblades.

Facilities– Toilets
– BBQs
– Picnic tables (sheltered)
AddressSamwell Street, Croydon QLD 4871

FREE Swimming Pool

One of the great FREE things to do in Croydon is to visit the local swimming pool. The Croydon Swimming Pool is open seasonally each year for people to jump in and cool off, which is provided by the council.

What’s at the Croydon Swimming Pool:

  • Outdoor Pool (6 lanes, 25 metres) – with shade cover and wheelchair access ramp
  • Toddler Pool – fully fenced with shade cover and seating
  • Shaded spectators area
  • Green grass for picnics
  • Car park
  • Amenities (wheelchair accessible)
Opening HoursMonday to Friday
• 9.30 am – 11.00 am
• 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm

(Closed Saturday & Sunday)
Facilities– Toilets & showers
– Shaded seating
– Lifeguard on duty
AddressBrown Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Club Hotel

Club Hotel, Croydon QLD
Source: Club Hotel Croydon

Back in the gold rush days, there were 36 pubs in Croydon to service all of the locals, including many men who worked on the goldfields. These days, there is just one left – the Club Hotel.

The Club Hotel, which still stands today, was one of those 36 pubs from 1887 and still holds its original charm.

Pop in for a look and grab a meal and drink while you’re there.

CostFREE Entry
AddressesCnr Brown Street & Sircom Street, Croydon QLD 4871

Bird Watching

Croydon has an abundance of native birdlife, with a local bird list being available from the True Blue Visitor Information Centre.

Bird watching spots:

  • Lake Belmore
  • Cemetery Swamp Birdwatching Hide
AddressesLake Belmore – Dam Road, Croydon
Cemetery Swamp – Claraville Road, Croydon

Sunset Viewing

Sunset Barcaldine QLD

Some of the most spectacular sunsets occur in Outback Australia, with Croydon being no exception!

Croydon sunset viewing locations:

  • Old Croydon Water Tank
  • Diehm’s Lookout
  • Mining Museum
  • Lake Belmore
AddressesOld Water Tank – Normanton Croydon Road
Diehm’s Lookout – McArthur Street
Mining Museum – Sircom Street
Lake Belmore – Dam Road
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Camping in Croydon

Croydon Freedom Camping

To make use of the Croydon Freedom Camping Ground, head to the Visitor Information Centre. Make a donation and register for a permit. The suggested donations are $5, $10 or $15.

If you arrive outside business hours, there is a drop box with forms on the Information Centre deck.

Croydon Freedom Camping FEATURES:

💲 Donation
⏰ 48-hours limit
⛺️ Tents, Camper Trailers, Caravans, RVs, Big Rigs
🐶 Dogs allowed
🚻 Flushing Toilets
🚿 Showers
⚡️ Generators allowed
📶 Telstra Reception

Address2 Alldridge Street, Croydon QLD 4871
Croydon Free Camp QLD
Croydon Freedom Camping, Croydon QLD

Croydon Caravan Park

Croydon Caravan Park FEATURES:

💲 $23/ night (unpowered) | $33/ night (powered)
⛺️ Tents, Camper Trailers, Caravans, RVs, Big Rigs
🏡 Cabins available
→ Pull-through Sites
🐶 Dogs allowed
🚻 Toilets
🚿 Showers
♿️ Wheelchair accessible
💧 Drinking Water
⚡️ Power
🗑 Bins
🥪 Picnic tables
⬇️ Dump point
♨️ BBQ
🔥 Fire Pits
🍽 Camp Kitchen
👕 Laundry ($3 per load – washing machines & dryers)
🏊 Swimming Pool
📚 Book Swap
📶 FREE Wi-fi

Address52 Brown Street, Croydon QLD 4871
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Croydon General Store

Croydon General Store, Croydon QLD

History of the Croydon General Store

The Croydon General Store had been trading since 1894, back when the town was a booming gold rush hub. It’s hard to believe that Croydon used to have no less than 36 pubs! Now they’ve got just one.

Up until December 2018, you could still walk in and buy general groceries, stationary, souvenirs and other bits and bobs from the Croydon General Store. Customers were welcome to take a stroll through ye olde store, filled with displays of relics from days gone by. If you looked up, you would have even sees the original piping and carbide lights.

Christmas Eve Fire

On 24 December 2018, the Croydon General Store was taken by fire. Queensland Fire and Rescue crews were called to the scene at 6.30 am and devastatingly, by 8 am it had been completely destroyed.

Tributes flowed in across social media. The Australian people were saddened by the news and shared reminiscent memories of years gone by at the self-proclaimed oldest store in Australia.

Photos of Croydon General Store (before it burned down)

We were so lucky to have been able to visit the Croydon General Store before it burned down. It was a fantastic experience with a rare and genuine antique feel.

Here are some of the many photos I took that day…

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Croydon Location

Croydon is located 524 km west of Cairns and 154 km east of Normanton in Far Northwest Queensland.

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1 thought on “🚂 14 Things to do in Croydon + Freedom Camping, Croydon QLD”

  1. Jim and Dawn Howesmith

    we are planning a trip from WA starting mid may , plan to be heading to Croydon 29th June. Looks a very interesting spot, so will stay over at least one day, and maybe more.

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