IT'S TIME TO DISCOVER CARNARVON & CORAL BAY

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3 Reasons why Carnarvon should top your 2021 bucket list

It’s official: 2021 is the year to explore Carnarvon.

2020 was the year of ‘holidaying here’.

It was the year of embracing the #vanlife, rediscovering the ‘slow holiday’, and jumping head first into ‘wandering out yonder’. The spotlight well and truly turned its focus onto the beauty of our own backyard.

Now, as we kick off the new year, the momentum behind regional travel remains at an all-time high. There’s an endless list of incredible West Australian destinations to get out and explore. At the top of 2021’s bucket list should be the town of Carnarvon. Here’s why:

The top-notch produce

Though sunburnt in appearance, the soil along the mighty Gascoyne River is incredibly fertile. It’s so fertile that the plantations along its banks grow and harvest around 47,000 tons of fruit and vegetables each year. From bananas to broccoli, basil to black sapote, there are few things that these sprawling farms aren’t growing.

While most of Carnarvon’s plantations supply their produce commercially, there are many that sell retail too. Just a few minutes out of town on Robinson Street is Morels Plantation - your one-stop shop for frozen, chocolate-coated treats. Stop in for one of their Insta-famous choc-dipped bananas, or challenge your tastebuds with one of their lesser-known options like soursop or the famous black sapote ice pops.

Along the ‘Fruit Loop Trail’ - the farming area of Carnarvon bounded by both the North and South River roads - you’ll find plenty more stops to pick up top-notch produce. Some of the larger plantations have fully-fledged shopfronts to buy from, the smaller just honour-system roadside stalls bearing their fresh picks of the day. Call into Gascoyne Organic Farm for spray-free fruit and veg and free-laid eggs. Or, pay Bumbaks a visit for the thickest, silkiest mango smoothie and a range of delicious preserves, all made from purchased excess fruit and veg from neighbouring farms.

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The road trip worthy events

It’s hardly surprising that a town that brings so much fresh produce to the state’s tables also plays host to its very own bucket-list-worthy foodie event. While the Gascoyne Food Festival has events pop up in idyllic locations right across the region, it’s tickets to the annual Carnarvon long table lunch (or twilight dinner, as it was in 2020) that are the most hotly contested.

Rivalling the big-name events of the south, the yearly event sees a high-profile line up of chefs converge on Carnarvon to showcase the town’s gastronomic delights and hard-working growers. In the past, the likes of Anna Gare, Nic Wood (Santini Bar and Grill), Melissa Palinkas (Young George and Ethos Deli), and Chase Weber (Fleur at The Royal), have all added their personal touches to the menu.

But, Carnarvon is about more than just the food.

Come September, Carnarvon’s population swells as the most significant event on the horse racing calendar rides into town. Considered an even bigger affair than Melbourne Cup Day, the Carnarvon Cup is the race that stops an entire town.

By early afternoon on cup day, the town shuts down as the locals all make their way down to the race track. Trainers and spectators from the Kimberley, north-west, and mid-west come down for the big day, joining them on and beside the track. Unlike city-based race days, there are no perfectly manicured grass tracks or big, luxury branded VIP tents to be seen. Instead, the horses come barrelling down a dusty red straight, and locals pull up a patch of grass on the hillside for the perfect view, cold beer in hand.

long table

The mind-blowing natural wonders

It’s impossible not to be captivated by Carnarvon and its limitless natural beauty. From the vibrant, sunburnt earth around town to the jagged cliffs of Quobba Station, there’s nowhere else quite like it in the world.

Just outside of town is the iconic Chinaman’s Pool. Located along the Gascoyne River, this tranquil swimming hole is the epitome of Australiana. Surrounded by lush grassy banks and shady eucalypts, it’s the perfect spot to take a cooling dip and escape the heat of the day. Bring a picnic blanket and some fresh local fruit to snack on, and make a day of your visit to the secluded spot.

An hour to the north of Carnarvon, the blowholes at Quobba Station are an unmissable attraction. Caused by surging water being forced upwards through narrow holes in the rock shelf, they’re a spectacular natural phenomenon. Visit as the tide is on it’s way in to high tide to feel (and hear) the raw power of the ocean as the blowholes erupt with a roar, spitting jets of water metres into the air.

Just 1km to the south of the blowholes is the natural aquarium - a calm lagoon filled with colourful fish and corals. Fringed by a white sand beach, the aquarium is a family-friendly spot to snorkel, swim, and while away the day. Thrill-seekers can venture further north up the gravel roads that lead through Quobba and Gnaraloo stations to find some of the state’s best surf. Visit between April and October to see the swell in all its glory. But, beginners beware - these reefy breaks aren’t ones to cut your teeth on.

blowholes2

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