I’ve lived in Western Australia since arriving from the UK as an 8-year old but somehow I’ve never been north of Perth, which I can only think is to do with my preference for colder climes. This year I was fortunate to be invited to the Gascoyne Food Festival in Carnarvon, managing to finally spend some time up north and escape the dreary Perth weather for a few days.
The adventure began early on a chilly Perth morning, flying to Carnarvon on a 30-seater plane (propellers? really?) with other media, chefs and event organisers. I have to say, the flight was very smooth (and coffee from the van outside the Skippers terminal surprisingly drinkable).
On arrival, we were caffeinated and fed before visiting growers and producers around the region, including:
- Marettaram Seafoods
- Gascoyne Gold Tomato Packing Shed
- Sweeter Banana Co-operative
- Kuzmicich Plantation – eggplant, capsicum and melons
- Parry’s Organic
- Chinnery’s Planatation
- Quoc Su Tran Robinson St – tomatoes
- Brickhouse Station – Minderoo Group – Rangelands Cattle
A recurring theme during the day was the problem of wasted produce caused by supermarket demand for “premium” fruit and vegetables. The justification for this is that consumers are apparently scared of anything not cosmetically perfect or of uniform shape. This topic was discussed extensively at FADS back in May, and it’s something we need to keep talking about.
As consumers, it’s time to start telling the supermarkets what we want. Many of us need to rethink our own attitudes when buying fruit and veg, too.
One of the biggest shocks for me – showing an appalling lack of preparation on my part – was learning that the Gascoyne River is mostly dry, flowing only once or twice a year.
The region looks so arid it’s hard to believe that so much grows there, especially crops such as avocados and grapes that also grow in the colder parts of WA.
Our evening event was the BBQ on the Beach at the Carnarvon Yacht Club, conveniently within staggering distance of our motel.
The food for the evening was cooked by WA’s Food Ambassador Don Hancey and his team, and this event was a fantastic introduction to the relaxed hospitality of the region.The beautiful Carnarvon sunset perfectly framed a long, informative but above all enjoyable day.
Next year marks the tenth year of the Gascoyne Food Festival and it’s going to be a big one, so start planning your trip now.
Stay tuned for my report – and many more photos – from the festival’s main event, the Long Table Lunch.