As a child, I visited my Nanna in Geraldton often, but I never made it any further north… until now! I was SO excited to be invited to this year’s Gascoyne Food Festival and discover a little about North West WA.
I know loads about what’s on offer in the south west, but I’ve always been a little clueless about what’s “up north” beyond beaches, fishing and the vast, arid outback. What could a foodie like me get up to? I’ve since discovered, that there’s lots of tastebud tempting things to see and eat in the Gascoyne!
The annual Gascoyne Food Festival holds events to celebrate the regions amazing produce – like fruit, vegetables, seafood and goats (yes, really!). It’s a remarkable food-bowl on the banks of the Gascoyne River. And after my four day adventure, I can tell you that it is produce well worth celebrating.
I started my trip on a damp, wintery morning at Perth Airport. I hopped on a REX twin prop plane…
and before I knew it, I was in sunny Carnarvon! Here’s my rundown of events:
Long Table Lunch
Many people’s highlight of the festival is the Long Table Lunch, held at the beautiful Bentwaters Plantation was amazing!
This year over 360 guests (locals and visitors) enjoyed the epic meal cooked with Gascoyne produce by Chefs from all around WA. It was a luscious lunch and it’s so difficult to choose a favourite dish… the Carnarvon banana dessert was sensational! More on the Long table lunch to come.
Taste of Gascoyne Sunset BBQ
This casual barbie showcased the best produce the Gascoyne region has to offer. Chef Stuart Laws from Showcase Events WA cooked Mundillya Homestead goat and lamb Asado style – long and slow over hot coals. It tasted absolutely divine!
There was also Gascoyne fish, prawns, fruit and vegetables alongside special dishes created by a local Vietnamese community group. Due to the unusual weather (rain in Carnarvon?!), this was held inside the old wool shed. The weather wasn’t enough to dampen the festive atmosphere and a delicious meal was had by all.
Chefs Paddock Tour
We spend hours traipsing around fields and plantations and I loved every second! From the sweetest strawberries and corn to fresh king prawns and the iconic Carnarvon banana – meeting the producers was so interesting and also really empowered me to make sure what’s in my own shopping trolley is from WA farmers.
The annual Chefs tour is especially for the visiting Chefs and media. You can DIY your own tour of the plantation’s farm stalls and shops by grabbing the “Fruit Loop” map from the tourist information centre in the heart of town. The Fruit Loop is a drive yourself tour you can do at any time of year and brilliant for picking up cheap local produce.
Gascoyne Growers Markets
The weekly Saturday morning markets are a huge deal in Carnarvon’s town centre.
As well as the freshest produce imaginable, you can find some really unique gifts, preserves and accessories. There’s goat handbags!
A popular goat pie, scrumptious mango pancake or very tall “church burger” are the go-to breakfast options at the markets.
Especially for the Gascoyne Food Festival, Chef Stuart Laws (Showcase Events WA) put on a cooking demo, along with Masterchef’s Brendan Pang and Chef Lucas Fernandes (Long Chim).
And it wouldn’t be an outback market without a Bushchook windmill! #Straya
Sue Helmut Art Exhibition
The Artist in Residence for the Gascoyne Food Council is local painter Sue Helmut. Her colourful landscapes in the “From the Source – A Landscape of Food” collection take you from the rains on Mount Augustus, which flow down the Gascoyne River, replenishing the underground aquafers that water the fruit and vegetables and then out to the sea, where the nutrient rich rainwaters trigger spawning of seafood. Who knew art could be so educational?! And well done to Sue on her first solo exhibition.
Dirk Hartog Island hosted a Campfire Seafood Paella Dinner by Chef Russell Blaikie. And Dirk’s Long Table Lunch cooked by Chef George Cooper.
The Carnarvon Races was an event to get your glad rags on for!
Outback Meets Reef at Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort was hosted by WA Food Ambassador Chef Don Hancey. For beer lovers a 6 Course “Beergustation” was held at Froth Craft Brewery, Exmouth.
And the grand finale The World’s Biggest BBQ at The World’s Biggest Rock will be held on September the 8th under the stars at Mount Augustus.
The annual Gascoyne Food Festival is the perfect excuse for checking out Carnarvon and the rest of the Gascoyne region. I’d highly recommend that you take a winter break in 2019 and enjoy next year’s Gascoyne Food Festival, some sunshine and amazing fresh produce!
I attended the festival’s events as a guest of the Gascoyne Food Festival.