The Gascoyne region, with its vast landscapes, rich history and thriving culinary scene, entices travellers on a journey of unparalleled discovery.
With a breathtakingly beautiful coastline, diverse gastronomy experiences, and ancient culture abounding, it is an adventure lover’s paradise.
Opening image: Australia’s Biggest Barbecue at the World’s Biggest Rock, Mount Augustus. Image: supplied.
The food bowl of the West
Spanning an expansive 135,093 square kilometres, the Gascoyne region is larger than England and is known as the place where the desert meets the sea. It encompasses some of Australia’s most iconic destinations and experiences, including the spectacular Shark Bay World Heritage Area, wild dolphin feeding at Monkey Mia, and the famous Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) Reef, where you can swim with whale sharks. It is also a thriving agricultural area, with plenty of foodie trails and experiences to dive into.
At the heart of the region flows the mighty Gascoyne River: an ephemeral river that comes to life during periods of high inland rainfall. This natural wonder plays a crucial role in the region’s fertility by recharging underground water stores. With over 600 kilometres of coastline covering Shark Bay, Carnarvon and Exmouth, along with the fertile soils surrounding the river and a favourable climate, the Gascoyne is an ideal haven for agriculture to thrive.
With diverse industries like fishing and aquaculture, agriculture and pastoralism, the region has rightfully earned its title as ‘The Food Bowl’ of WA. (Collectively, these industries generate an impressive annual gross output of $1.2 billion!)
The Carnarvon area boasts over 1,500 hectares of cultivated land, producing a vibrant array of fruits and vegetables: from bananas and table grapes to tomatoes, capsicums, melons and mangoes. Visitors can embark on the locally dubbed ‘Fruit Loop,’ a scenic 10km drive along North and South River Road in Carnarvon, where you’ll discover fresh seasonal produce, the famous Sweeter Bananas, award-winning Bumbaks Preserves and Icecreams, and other locally made delicacies.
Gascoyne’s pastoral sector covers over 75 per cent of the land, with more than 60 active pastoral stations. Bullara Station, situated in the Exmouth Gulf, stands as a testament to the region’s unique fusion of cattle stations and tourism. Visitors can camp under the stars, savouring dishes featuring the region’s incredible produce, including the station’s very own beef.
Connecting to culture
Beyond these delectable offerings, the Gascoyne region also embraces cultural immersion with Traditional Owners hosting seasonal cultural food tours.
Businesses like Wooramulla Eco Cultural Journeys, led by local Yinggarda woman Renee Turner, invite participants to forage and explore the region’s bush tucker and ancient medicinal practices passed down through generations.
Gwoonwardu Mia is an Aboriginal heritage and multi-purpose cultural centre on Yinggarda Country in Carnarvon which celebrates the five local Aboriginal language groups. The award-winning permanent exhibition ‘Burlganyja Wanggaya – Old People Talking – listen, learn respect ’ shares stories of the land and the ancient continuing culture of the region.
The centre also showcases regional artists in the gallery and shop, and features a training café, ethnobotanical garden, tours, yarning circles and events for schools and groups.
A culinary extravaganza
Partnering with organisations like the Gascoyne Food Council, the Gascoyne Development Commission (GDC) actively promotes the region as a culinary hub. The annual Gascoyne Food Festival which first launched in 2015 is now heralded as ‘Australia’s largest regional gastronomic food experience.’
From July to September, renowned chefs showcase their culinary prowess, using locally sourced ingredients from growers, beef producers and seafood producers. The schedule of events includes everything from fine dining to 4WD experiences on the pristine beaches of Dirk Hartog Island to relaxed social dining experiences where you can sample local seafood, produce and beverages.
The Gascoyne Food Festival focuses not just on showcasing local produce, but also giving visitors the opportunity to visit some of the most spectacular and jaw-dropping scenery in Australia. Events such as the annual Biggest BBQ at Mount Augustus and long table meals at Bullara Station immerse visitors in the region’s iconic landscapes, making every bite a sensorial delight.
In 2023, the Gascoyne Food Festival also unveiled ‘Flavours of Shark Bay,’ where visitors gathered at the RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort to savour the best local produce against the extraordinary backdrop of Shark Bay.
The Food Council also supports the local Growers Market from May to November, held in Carnarvon every Saturday from 8am. Here, visitors and locals can browse a diverse range of arts and crafts, freshly cooked food, smoothies and coffees, and can pick up some of the freshest fruit and vegetables straight from the growers.
For more on this fascinating region, check out whale sharks and wilderness at Ningaloo Reef.
Still hungry? Check out our go-to foodie guide to the best foodie experiences around Australia!
Travel to the Gascoyne
Rex flies to Carnarvon and Monkey Mia from Perth. Book your flights here and check out the route map below.