Food doesn’t get any fresher than Carnarvon fresh. Many of the local growers sell seasonal fruit and vegetables direct from their farms (some are only open for the growing season).
The Gascoyne River is 865 kilometres long, making it the longest river in Western Australia. Perth's Swan River, in comparison, is about 72 kilometres long. Water supply comes from aquifers (underground water systems) beneath and next to the river.
Thanks to fertile soils around the Gascoyne River, the area supplies about 47,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables per year, worth about $100 million, including a diverse range of tropical produce such as bananas, pawpaw, mangoes, grapes, tomatoes, avocados and beans.
Gascoyne Food Trail
Head to the Carnarvon Visitor Centre to pick up your Gascoyne Food Trail map.
A trip around the ‘Fruit Loop’ is a foodie adventure - take a drive around the South and North River Road plantations and collect some fresh seasonal produce.
Carnarvon - home of the Big Banana!
The first recorded appearance of bananas in Australia was near Carnarvon, Western Australia in the early to mid-1800s, planted by Chinese migrants. From there the banana industry in Carnarvon really started with a small planting in the 1940s. Since that time it has grown and become the hero of the town’s horticulture industry.
You can also visit some of the banana plantations and select from Western Australia’s best produce at the Carnarvon Growers' Market which is held in front of the Visitors Centre every Saturday from mid-May to October.
Carnarvon's 180 plus plantations produce $46 million worth of produce annually, including more than half of Western Australia's banana crops. Carnarvon’s bananas are smaller but sweeter than most of the big Queensland bananas found in Australian supermarkets.
The region's mild climate, pest-free status and the fertile land near the Gascoyne River combine to result in top quality fruit and vegetable production.
What are the key differences between Carnarvon and Queensland bananas?
- Takes 15 months to grow in Carnarvon, 8 months in Queensland. It takes a lot longer but we get a sweeter and creamier product!
- Queensland bananas are bigger in size, but Carnarvon's small size are perfect for a quick snack and easy for children to consume.
- Skin-marked rejects are sold as banana smoothie ingredients - our region has reduced food waste ratio from 60 % to just 4%! The average international wastage standard is 25-30%.
- Carnarvon is diverse! In addition to bananas, growers produce mangoes, watermelons and pumpkins and so much more.
- We are protected. Other banana growing locations around the world are challenged by TR4 (tropical race 4) disease, which affects Cavendish bananas. Our remote location and strict bio-hazard standards ensure this disease does not our plantations.
Plantation operators are value adding by producing a massive range of quality sauces, jams, pickled fruit, wines, ice creams and dried fruit.
A trip on the Coral Coast isn’t complete without a Chocolate Coated Banana. Don’t forget to get your photo with the 'Big Banana’ at Bumbak's. The major variety of banana grown is the giant Cavendish type, Williams.
Here's a few fun Carnarvon fruit and vegetable facts:
- If you laid out a years supply of BANANAS end to end, they would extend from Perth to Carnarvon and back around 6 times
- The beautiful warm climate of northern Western Australia produces hot CHILLIES – enough to make more than 1 million bottles of sweet chilli sauce
- The region grows PUMPKINS weighing the equivalent of more than 900 male African elephants
- You can fill more than 2 Olympic sized swimming pools with BASIL pesto made from an annual basil harvest from the Gascoyne. That's a lot of pesto!
- You can make 10.5 million fritters with all the ZUCCHINI produced each year
- All CAPSICUMS start off green but depending on variety and length of time on the vine will turn red, yellow or orange
Check the Fruit and Vegetable seasonal calendar to see what's good to buy and when!