Not to be confused with Carnarvon Gorge, over in Queensland, the town of Carnarvon in Western Australia marks – in my mind at least – the end of the Outback and the beginning of a landscape that looks much more like Southern WA.
And you know what, we were really impressed by it!
From the beautiful green colours, which started to replace the red dust, to the lovely regenerated foreshore, Carnarvon felt like a town on the up and we ended up extending our stay there we enjoyed it so much.
So if you’re road-tripping Australia’s Coral Coast and wondering whether to make a stop, then let me help you decide with these 10 best free things to do in Carnarvon.
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#1 Marvel at the Blowholes
The blowholes situated just outside of town are, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best free things to do in Carnarvon.
We planned just to take a quick drive out to see them, but ended up spending hours watching them blow up to 20m in the air!
Created when the ocean is forced through the sea caves here, before exploding out through holes in the rock, the sound of the roaring sea is very impressive.
On your way, make sure you grab a pic of the infamous King Waves Kill sign. It’s kind of morbid, but hard to resist!
#2 Drive the Fruit Loop
The South and North River Road are what is known as Carnarvon’s Fruit Loop, because they really are the epicentre of this town’s agricultural production.
Driving along here and checking out the delicious farm stalls is a great free thing to do in Carnarvon, and if you can afford it – splashing out on some of the local treats (like chocolate-covered frozen mango) is definitely worth it too!
#3 Enjoy the Markets
Otherwise, why not head to the local Weekly Farmer’s Market and grab yourself some great produce there instead.
Open every Saturday from May to October, the Gascoyne Growers Market springs to life directly outside the town’s Visitor Centre.
With everything from homemade ice creams to organic veggies, listen to local buskers here while you support the community and enjoy a real slice of Carnarvon life.
5 ESSENTIAL PACKING ITEMS FOR AUSTRALIA
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national park! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strollling, I love mine
#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together
#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!
#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion, you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.
#4 Camp at Red Bluff
With some great eco-camping, snorkelling and swimming at this beautiful coral lagoon, checking out Red Bluff, and perhaps spending the night here, is definitely one of the best free things to do in Carnarvon.
About 135km north of the town, bookings aren’t required, but the track can be rough, so do make sure you check the conditions before heading out there.
Campers must be self-sufficient, but you’ll be rewarded with a mind-blowing sunset each and every night!
#5 Explore the Fascine
Carnarvon’s brand new central waterway construction – The Fascine – is a really welcome addition to the town, which has been thoughtfully designed and put together.
A truly public space for all to enjoy – whether it’s a picnic on the grass, BBQs, sunset watching or letting the kids run around in the playground, this is a great free place to explore in Carnarvon.
We stayed at the excellent Wintersun Caravan Park in Carnarvon and absolutely loved it!
Highly recommended as the best place to stay in town, you can check out my full review here.
#6 Snap the One Mile Jetty
Built in 1897, Carnarvon’s impressive jetty is actually one of the longest in the Southern hemisphere!
Intended to help export wool and livestock in the region down to the port at Fremantle, it sadly fell into disrepair in 1966.
In 1998 however, the community banded together to save the jetty, and now you can walk the One Mile Jetty if you’re feeling like a bit of exercise.
However I loved photographing it just as much!
This heritage piece has some very beautiful lines and with a dusting of red outback sand, looked delightful when we were there.
#7 Visit the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage Museum
Right near to the One Mile Jetty, in the same Heritage Precinct actually, is the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage Museum.
Showcasing items dating back to the 1900’s, this place is free to enter and a great way to learn a bit more about the town’s history and what life was like in this remote WA outstation at the turn of the last century.
#8 Stroll the Tramway Walk Trail
This 2.5km walking trail connects the centre of Carnarvon with the Heritage Precinct, meaning if you are thinking of checking out the One Mile Jetty or the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage Museum, this is a great way to get there!
Following the line of the old tramway – unsurprisingly! – this delightful stroll gives you a great perspective on the town and is complemented by some excellent signage about the local flora and fauna.
#9 Wander the Cute High Street
With its wide streets, indicative of the times that horses and carriages ruled the cobbles, Carnarvon’s high street is full of character and heritage.
From some cute little cafes, to some interesting little shops, strolling along here, admiring the heritage buildings and the gorgeous shop window displays was definitely one of the best free things to do in Carnarvon we enjoyed most.
#10 Swim at Chinaman’s or Rocky Pool
Just a short distance outside of town, 2 excellent local swimming holes can be found.
Definitely one of the best free things to do in Carnarvon, heading to either of these spots is a great way to cool down on a scorching summer’s day!
Rocky Pool is 55km east of the town and is a permanent deep water pool and a great picnic spot too.
Chinaman’s is closer to town, but still a peaceful spot with some beautiful river gums framing it and attracting some lovely birdlife.
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So there you have it, my list of the top 10 free things to do in Carnarvon, Western Australia.
We really couldn’t believe how much was going on in and around this small town when we were there and we’d love to hear more about things you got up to as well.