Postcard from Highway One
#22:  Carnarvon

25 April 2003

This, today's second postcard is a retrospective look at my trip to Carnarvon earlier this month. There are still a couple more to come, not necessarily a bad thing since I've no more work related travel planned. With regard to todays deluge, I'm not gonna buck inspiration, so you'll just have to deal with it!

Nine hundred kilometres north of Perth and roughly a hundred shy of the Tropic of Capricorn, Western Australiaís longest River, the Gascoyne, ends its eight hundred kilometre journey to the Indian Ocean at Carnarvon. Its waters are the lifeblood of the town. With an average annual rainfall of just 229 millimetres, Carnarvon's climate is officially classified as "hot desert".

Although the river flows only after cyclonic rains, its underground aquifer supports a wide variety of agricultural produce including tropical fruits such as bananas, paw paws and mangoes, citrus, avocados, grapes and vegetable crops such as tomatoes, beans, capsicum and asparagus.

Take a look at the attached images of the river bed. Itís a dry prospect offering no hint of the rich water source concealed beneath. But in fact, that hidden artery supports an irrigated agricultural region stretching thirty kilometres inland from the coast.

I wouldn't want to leave you with the impression that this intensive irrigation area is all that Carnarvon is. The town also supports a fishing industry, salt mining at nearby Lake Macleod and is a centre for the pastoral industry of the vast surrounding station country, to say nothing of its important position on the WA tourism map.

Carnarvon is a surprisingly beautiful place. On this, my first visit, prejudiced by reputation, I wasnít quite sure what to expect. Certainly not the tropical oasis that greeted me, with palm trees dominating the townscape set amidst the waterways of the Gascoyne estuary. A little further afield, mangroves dominate the coastal landscapes near the town.

Like most coastal urban areas, residential subdivision in Carnarvon has gone upmarket recently with "canal" type lots going on sale offering direct frontage to ĎThe Fascineí, the arm of the Gascoyne which flows through town. The difference here is that these new lots are one to two minutes walk from the centre of town. Not that thatís supremely difficult to achieve in a shire with a population of 6,500! Iím not sure whether in Carnarvonís case, this is a good thing, but perhaps, as an interloper, itís not for me to judge.

Iíll leave you today, in context, with Highway One connecting Carnarvon to the start of my postcard odyssey; And a beautiful sunsetÖ what better final curtain?

Cheers, Rob ;–

The bridge spanning the dry Gascoyne River Bed

View of the Gascoyne across the bridge

The dry river bed

Carnarvon Palms


Highway 1: Minilya 134, Exmouth 359, Nanutarra 362, Karratha 636, Port Hedland 862

Sunset approaching Carnarvon


© Rob Morgan 2003