After driving another 240 kilometers south, we arrived at the larger coastal town of Carnarvon. It sits at the mouth of the Gascoyne River and overlooks the Indian Ocean, renowned for its one-mile-long jetty. With a population of 4,500, it’s a popular pit stop for tourists who want to do some last-minute shopping before heading to Exmouth or Karijini National Park.
After doing some shopping in Carnarvon, we drove to the jetty, which was not just any small deck, but a wooden structure built in 1897 that extended 1.3 km into the sea.
We began walking and it seemed like it would never end. The wind was blowing quite hard, making the walk unpleasant, and I was worried that Nell might fall into a hole due to the slightly deplorable condition of the jetty deck.
Maintaining such an old structure is quite a challenge for such a small community. For some time in the 1990s, the Carnarvon jetty was in such bad condition that it was in danger of collapsing. As a result, it was closed to tourists and fishermen, and townlost its main attraction.
Without both groups visiting the jetty every year, the town began to struggle. So, the locals dug into their pockets and collected $70,000 for repairs. It was a drop in the ocean of needs, but the local government noticed that the town people cared and invested another $400,000. It was enough to dismantle part of the jetty and repair it.
It was a good move, as in the following year after the jetty was reopened, the town was visited by 30,000 more tourists than in the previous year!
It is worth walking almost a kilometer deep into the ocean to feel like you are in another era. The wood is old and makes an amazing impression. I could even imagine ships that came here with travelers 150 years ago.
Carnarvon Jetty Fishing
Marius was in his element and by the time Nell and I reached the end, he had already run there and caught the first fish before we showed up. He couldn’t believe it the first time he did a cast he caught the fish. Now I’m waiting for him to come up with the brilliant idea that he must have a boat because more fish swim further from the shore.
Iconic OTC Dish
In the morning, we bought some bait and then drove to see an old satellite dish. This massive 30-meter wide dish is a Carnarvon landmark located on a hill outside the Space and Technology Museum.
When it was built, there were only eight of its kind in the world. It played a significant role in the Apollo Moon Programme and also tracked Halley’s Comet. However, due to its deteriorating condition, the dish may be set for demolition.
Banana and Grape Plantation
Later on, we went to a banana and grape plantation to taste the famous chocolate-coated frozen bananas. The plantation was impressive, the bananas were delicious and the only disappointment was that we were late for the owner guided tour.
That was a pity because we didn’t find out how much the banana tree bends. This was supposed to be revealed by the owner during the trip, and now this knowledge is gone. I’m joking, of course, we are not planning to buy banana plantations in the near future.
Our last afternoon we spent on the jetty fishing. Actually, Marius was fishing and we were admiring the ocean.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
In 2019 the estimated cost to revitalise the jetty was estimated at $42 million. I don’t think presently there is a budget allocated for such a big investment in such a remote place. Thus, there is no due date or hope that the Jetty will re-open soon.
To fill the gap for tourists a new One Mile Jetty Interpretive Centre was opened. There is an Aboriginal art commissioned from a local artist, colonial objects and photographs of Carnarvon Jetty. The jetty can be seen from the air by a helicopter.
There are no national parks around Carnarvon. If you are keen to drive inland there are two options.
Kennedy Range National Park – located 185 km east of Carnarvon offers 5 different gorge walks. Eastern escarpment can be accessed even by 2WD while the western side of the park via Gascoyne River is accessible only by 4WD. Camping is permitted at Temple Gorge Campground.
Mount Augustus National Park – located 465 km from Carnarvon this park offers a summit walk as well as various short walks to different lookouts. Accommodation is available at Mount Augustus Outback Tourist Park.
Quobba Station – located 82 km north of Carnarvon offers fishing, whale watching and shell counting. There are various accommodation options as well as camping sites.
Red Bluff Campsite – located 135 km north of Carnarvon it is a free camping ground where campers have to be fully self-sufficient. The track to get there is only for 4WD.
There are two excellent swimming holes, one in town and another outside of Carnarvon.
Chinaman’s Pool – located 2 km away from the town centre in Chinamans Pool Nature Reserve.
Rocky Pool – located 55 km east of Carnarvon it is a freshwater pool that is perfect for a day trip and picnic stay.
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