Sometimes it’s nice to holiday in your own country. I have always been a big believer in exploring one’s own country before yearning to see the rest of the world. I have been somewhat lucky in life as I grew up in a family that worked in rotating roles so travel was not uncommon as a kid. Subsequently, I found myself in my own transitional role as a writer in outback Australia. Being opportunistic, this was my chance to see some of the beautiful places and experience some of the amazing things this sunburnt country, Australia, had to offer, right from my backdoor.
First, in my lineage of four hour drives to meet random destinations, was Carnarvon. This is where I had my home and was my centre of operations for a number of years. From there I could make a trip to some of Australia’s and the world’s most idyllic destinations such as Coral Bay, Exmouth with the Whale Sharks, Karijini National Park and the coastline along the Ningaloo Reef. All of which were within a five hour drive.
To start, Carnarvon, as a home, is only a small town reliant on the fishing and tourism industries. Most of the towns along this western strip of Australia are built around those two industries. However, Carnarvon is rapidly becoming a fruitbowl industry with its massive banana plantations and great crop-wielding soil. Carnarvon markets itself on this aspect by hosting premier black tie country events such as the Taste of the Gascoyne and other such food-inspired celebrations which generally fall around harvest season.
The town has a perfect layout of one main street with the age-old hotels and pubs lined along the wide streets, and has a number of cafes and restaurants. At the end of the main street is an amazing view of the marina, which backs on to the main part of town and is lined with palm trees. The best place for a ‘surf and turf’ (fresh prawns on steak) is the Gascoyne Hotel which a lot of the notable locals drink and eat at most nights. However there is also the Crab Shack for fresh seafood and the Harbour Side Cafe to drink at. For a place to stay, the Wintersun Caravan Park is one of the largest and nicest in the area and caters for people needing on site accommodation, or just power.
Another great place to visit is the Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre, located at the entrance to the main part of town. It gives visitors an insight into the indigenous cultures of the area and gives you an idea as to the history of the area and its origins. The Heritage and Cultural Centre always plays host to various artwork provided by indigenous elders, all of which have a story of the area.
The Gascoyne is also popular because of the Gascoyne Dash, a premier desert racing event. My personal favourite event is the Carnarvon Cup, a horse racing event which has the prestige of world class racehorses from Victoria, Dubai and the UK flocking to this little country town to compete for the Cup. It is an amazing event with fashions on the field and a great social atmosphere.