Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Carnarvon WA


Postcode: 6701

Carnarvon is a coastal town situated approximately 900 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia. It lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean. The popular Shark Bay world heritage area lies to the south of the town. The town was founded in 1883, initially as a port and supply centre for the surrounding region, and is the administrative centre for the Carnarvon Shire. The population of Carnarvon is 6340 (ABS estimate 2004).

Carnarvon has a warm to hot semi-arid climate. Average yearly rainfall is 226mm with the rainiest months (and the most reliable rainfall) being in May and June. Occassionally Tropical cyclones will influence Carnarvon and bring very heavy rain and strong winds but apart from this erratic source of rainfall summers are otherwise dry. Temperatures range from an average maximum of 33°C in February to 22°C in July. Average minimums are 23°C and 11°C respectively.

Main industries of the area have included wool, agriculture, particularly bananas and tomatoes, more recently, tourism. During the 1960s, NASA set up a tracking station nearby to support the Gemini and Apollo space program. The tracking station was closed in the mid 1970s. Only the foundations of what was an historical site remain. Radio Australia had a shortwave relay station (built during the 1970s) that used to relay programming to Europe, South Asia and South East Asia.

There are 5 schools in the town, 3 Government run and 2 Independent. These Schools are: St Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic School, Carnarvon Senior High School, East Carnarvon Primary School, Carnarvon Primary School, Carnarvon Christian School and Carnarvon School of the Air.

On 20 May 1988 the bulk carrier Korean Star ran aground in bad weather near Cape Cuvier, within the port limits of Carnarvon. Around 600 tonnes of fuel oil were spilled into the ocean. Damage was limited to 10km of remote beaches and coastline. The ship was not salvaged and left grounded, however very little of the wreck remains to be seen.