Plan to boost Carnarvon

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
File shot of a windsurfer.
Camera IconFile shot of a windsurfer. Credit: The West Australian

A community effort is under way to address empty shopfronts and economic decline in Carnarvon by transforming the town into a global wind and kitesurfing destination.

The idea was cooked up by Carnarvon Windfest president Danny Lobwein, who said he wanted an economic injection for the Gascoyne town to tackle about five months of stagnation every year.

“There’s just no events bringing people to town between November (and) April, as everything happens when it’s cooler,” Lobwein said.

“Some shops even close then because it’s just too expensive to be open.”

Lobwein said he planned to stimulate Carnarvon’s economy in the off-season by tapping into wind tourism and capturing the interest of kite and windsurfers. He said the long-term plan was to make Carnarvon appeal to Europeans and bring them to a globally recognised windsurfing circuit in WA.

Meanwhile, he said the short-term plan was preparing for a two-day Carnarvon Windfest event, backed by Windsurfing WA.

“We already have $50,000 of in-kind support from the business community,” Lobwein said.

The event has been planned with the summer holidays in mind and will include children’s activities and a concert in a bid to attract families.

Lobwein said the event would hopefully reinvent Carnarvon’s windsurfing history, which Lobwein said used to be significant. “It used to be big at least 20 years ago ... and I can only speculate the town shrinking has a lot to do with its decline,” he said. “We export bananas up here and we probably export just as many kids.

“It’s a transient town.

“The police, teachers, doctors and nurses all come and go.

“We’re fifth in the world when it comes to wind and kitesurfing, so hopefully this will generate some economic activity.”

The Carnarvon Windfest will be held on January 18 and 19.

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