HEMA Map reference 76/A2
24° 52' 44" S 113° 39' 42" E
|Climate data for Carnarvon|
|Average Temp high °C||31.2||32.4||31.5||29||26.2||23.3||24.2||22.9||24.3||25.9||27.5||29.3||27.2|
|Average Temp low °C||22.5||23.3||22.1||19.1||14.9||12.3||11||11.5||13.8||16.3||18.6||20.||17.2|
Blowholes , Rocky Pool , Boat Harbour, Miaboolya Beach, One Mile Jetty, Pelican Point, Bush Bay , Bibawarra Bore, the plantations, Chinaman’s Pool, Dwyer’s Leap, Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage Museum, Prawning factory, Tracking Station, HMAS Sydney Memorial.
Buildings of note
Hotels, Churches, Old post office, OTC station, Lighthouse keeper's house 1896, St. George's Church 1907, St. Mary Star of the Sea 1935.
Calendar of events
January: Australia Day breakfast. May: Business expo. (biannual May) Fremantle to Carnarvon Yachting classic. June: Carnafin. August: Skywest Festival, Children's Festival. September: Carnarvon Cup. December: Street party. Weekly: Markets on Saturdays from May to October.
Gascoyne River Bridge
Old Post Office
Gascoyne River Bridge
Old Post Office
The earliest Europeans to glimpse the coastline in this part of the world were almost certainly Dutch. The first confirmed landing was on Dirk Hartog Island (by Dirk Hartog no less!). This was way back in 1616. Hartog named the area Eendrachsland after his ship Eendracht.
The coast in this area was explored by Tasman, de Vlamingh, Dampier, Pelsaert, Phillip Parker King, De Freycinet, Hamelin, Grey and Baudin to name just a few.
Sir George Grey discovered the Gascoyne River in 1839 and the island at the river’s mouth he named Babbage Island. Grey's exploration was met with one disaster after another and after losing all his boats he and his party had to walk all the way back to Perth. The town takes it’s name from Lord Carnarvon (Henry Howard Molyneux), British Secretary of State for the Colonies 1866-7 & 1874-78. The Aboriginal name for the area was kuwinywardu (Kow-win-wordo), meaning neck of water.
By 1876 there were already settlers in the area when Brown, Brockman and Monger drove 4000 sheep from York and established sheep stations in the vicinity. A townsite was gazetted in January 1883 and in 1886 the first land in town was sold.
The need for a jetty was quickly apparent and the first one was constructed in 1889. A better structure followed in 1900 and 9 years later a tramway was added to facilitate movement of goods and passengers the town that was some distance away.
The Gascoyne River (that flows mostly underground) is 865km long. It is the main source of irrigation for the area and during exceptionally heavy rains it can flow over the main road bridge heading north.
The town suffered major floods in 1883, 1897, 1905, 1907 and 1909 and a protective bulwark known as the Fascine was completed in 1913. The fascine (a timber retaining wall) is said to be one of only two of its type in he world. Even after this barrier was constructed floods continued to visit Carnarvon from time to time. In 1961 over 2,000 people were evacuated first to 40 Mile Tank and then to Perth when the river burst its banks. Another smaller flood caused significant damage in 1980.
Not all of the town's history is covered with the glory of triumph over adversity. The treatment of the local Aboriginal people was deplorable in the early years. In the book 'The Passing of the Aborigines' Daisy Bates wrote:
'Dorre and Bernier Islands: there is not, in all my sad sojourn among the last sad people of the primitive Australian race, a memory one-half so tragic or so harrowing, or a name that conjures up such a deplorable picture of misery and horror unalleviated, as these two grim and barren islands of the West Australian coast that for a period, mercifully brief, were the tombs of the living dead...
...When I landed on Bernier Island in November 1910, there were only fifteen men left alive there, but I counted thirty eight graves.
There were seventy-seven women on Dorre Island, many of them bed-ridden. I dared not count the graves there. A frightful sight it was to see grey-headed women, their faces and limbs repulsive in disease, but an even more frightful sight to see the young-and there were children among them.
The first fruit trees brought to the area were orange trees brought in by Mr. Mcleod in 1908. Since then fruit growing has been gradually developed in the area and is now worth more than 18 million dollars a year.
In 1922 an agricultural research station was opened, but it was not until the 1940s when tropical fruit started to be commercially grown, that the area’s fruit industry really started to take off. Today there are around 70 plantations operating near the town. Many sell fruit direct to the public and the prices are low and the quality (usually) high.
Bananas are the most dominant (and visible) fruit in the area and the credit for bringing them in goes to Jack Buzolic who planted the first suckers in 1928 and began commercial harvesting in 1930. Australia produces in the vicinity of 300,000 tonnes of bananas a year (weather permitting) and of this the Carnarvon plantations only produce about 4,000 tonnes. Banana prices fluctuate wildly depending on demand and when cyclones hit Queensland and destroy crops there, Carnarvon growers can see prices increase as much as 1800%.
The next most numerous fruit type found growing near Carnarvon is the Kensington Pride Mango. Mango season starts around Christmas time and many of the growers sell direct to the public. Although Kensington Pride are probably the best known variety, there are several other types being grown that are worth trying.
There is a
local prawn processing factory but we can't see why they bother to sell to
the public because prices at the local Woolworths are usually much cheaper.
In 1964, NASA opened a tracking station near the town. The words 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' were actually broadcast to the world from this tracking station as Neil Armstrong became the first man to place his foot on the moon. The tracking station was later converted into an OTC site for phone communications. Today it just sits rusting up on top of a sand ridge, a monument to man's early exploration of space.
The climate is
probably about the best of any town in W.A. The winter is relatively mild
and the strong south westerly winds that blow most days during the summer
keep the temperature down so that it is usually cooler here than Geraldton
500km to the south and much cooler than Exmouth which is only just over
Tall tales and true: The Mad 8.
In 1903 some research was being done into the types and numbers of fish available for harvest in local waters. The research vessel was working off Dorre Island when on one run it lowered its nets and came to a complete stand still. The captain thought he had run afoul of an uncharted reef so imagine his surprise when the nets came up full of huge prawns. There was nowhere for the catch to be stored so they were taken to Carnarvon and given out free to the lucky residents. Even though it was known that good catches of prawns could be taken it was not until 1961 that the prawning industry got established.
Kingsford Smith goes trucking