Visit Carnarvon and cruise
If you love combing beach sand for unique shells and exploring subtropical pretty-as-a-picture pastel landscapes, then Carnarvon on Australia’s Coral Coast is one place you should add to your great Western exploration.
Carnarvon sits on the edge of an enormous slice of paradise: around 604,500 hectares of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Site. On the harbourfront, palm trees line the esplanade where crystalline waters brush the shore. Carnarvon is home to only 4,500 people, meaning a day at the beach can be an isolated excursion in paradise.
Ancient history runs deep in Carnarvon – the surrounding region is home to five Aboriginal language groups: Yinggarda, Bayungu, Malgana, Thadgari and Thalanyji.
A permanent exhibition at the Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre is an award-winning interactive display and Sky Dome, which has a time-lapse video of a starry night sky and commentary about the art of stargazing and what it means for the Aboriginal community. The centre is also home to an impressive 33,000-year-old shell necklace.
New, old and bold
Between the months of December and March, Quobba’s Shell Beach – which is only a 20km drive north of Carnarvon – becomes a sanctuary for turtle hatching. Adult green, loggerhead, hawksbill and flatback turtles frequent the waters off the coast of Carnarvon all year round, and you can also tick off that bucket list experience of swimming with whale sharks here.
With new life, there is old life too, and Quobba is also known as an underwater museum of coral formations that are around 7,000 to 8,000 years old – although, to be fair, in terms of reef systems this is actually quite young.
There are also traces of former human activity just along the shore where you can see the remains of the Korean Star shipwreck. On May 20, 1988, the bulk carrier vessel ran aground during cyclonic weather conditions, which caused it to drag its anchor. Unfortunately, around 600 tonnes of fuel and oil were lost in the precious waters.
The powerful blowholes and surging swells of The Bluff make this region a drawcard for visitors from Australia and across the globe, and a huge left-handed reef break is frequented by adventurous surfing aficionados, usually through the months of May to August.
Fun fact: Carnarvon was the first place in Australia where an Overseas Telecommunication Commission dish was built for space missions.
For the history buffs
While on the Coral Coast, make sure you check out the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, which are approximately 3.5 billion years old – making them the oldest in the world. They are a layered rock-type reef formation created by cyanobacteria, some of the earliest life on the planet. This display by Mother Nature is also the largest living stromatolite colony in existence today. The area is overlooked by a raised walkway so visitors can admire the natural wonder without disturbing it. It’s located 100km south-east of Denham or 35km from the Overlander Roadhouse.
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Want to visit Carnarvon?
Rex airlines operate flights to Carnarvon from Perth. See the map below and click here to book your flights;