Mark it in the diaries folks! This year’s Channel Seven Mandurah Crab Fest is on March 18th and 19th. It’s Western Australia’s largest free regional event and around 120,000 people are expected to attend across the weekend. Crab Fest is supported by the State Government through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program, made possible by Royalties for Regions. Along with all the crab inspired fun and games along the Mandurah foreshore, there are some really fantastic satellite events scheduled as part of the festivities.
Details provided by the City of Mandurah:
* On Friday evening, guests can experience the Dinner Under The Stars with Fervor, an event providing a unique Australian pop-up dining experience. Supported by the local Bindjareb Aboriginal elders, diners will be treated to a uniquely Peel Region location steeped in Aboriginal heritage and stories. Patrons will be bussed to the location and upon arrival, local elders will perform a welcoming ceremony and give diners an insight into the special qualities of the site through storytelling and music. Tickets for this unforgettable indigenous food experience are $195 each and feature an intimate, long table, eight course degustation menu.
* Also on Friday evening, a Progressive Dinner Cruise is on offer. Ticket holders can cruise through Mandurah’s stunning waterways and enjoy a mouth-watering progressive dinner from some of the city’s finest restaurants. Tickets for the Progressive Dinner Cruise are available now for $120 each.
* New to this year’s festival, the Crab Boil provides ticket holders the opportunity to get their hands dirty whilst enjoying crabs, prawns, mussels, clams, sweetcorn, potatoes and smoky sausage in an experience that is popular in the deep south of America. The Crab Boil will take place on Saturday at 6.00pm overlooking the tranquil waters of the Mandurah Ocean Marina. Tickets are $80 each and bookings are essential.
* Festival-goers can also experience pure indulgence at the unique High Tea under the Fig Tree. Mandurah’s iconic Moreton Bay Fig Tree will provide an ideal spot for ticket holders to enjoy the high tea whilst taking in the water views and taking a break from the crowds. Building on last year’s sold-out high tea, the popular event is now available on both Saturday and Sunday at 2.00pm within a beautiful marquee setting under the historic tree at Stingray Point, Mandurah. Tickets are $70 each and bookings are essential.
I was recently invited along to Mandurah for a reminder of what a special part of WA it is and whether you go for a day, a weekend or a week there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Like a trip with Mandurah Cruises, who offer a range of different tours along the Mandurah water ways. You can keep things leisurely with their one-hour Dolphin & Scenic Canal Cruise and play spot the dolphin, which seems to be almost a given with the number of friendly creatures that call the area home!
They happily frolic near the boats and I have to say it is always exciting to see a dolphin and when the skies are blue and the sun is shining and the water is crystal clear, it’s just a beautiful way to spend an hour. It honestly looked as though the dolphins were sparkling, which was entirely special.
Or if you want to up the action and get schooled on crabbing, then all aboard a Crabbing & Eco Tour. The knowledgeable crew will give you a lesson on blue manna crabs, how to differentiate between males and females, the importance of ensuring that any crabs you catch are size and that the females are released (so there’ll be more crabs in the future). Of course you also get hands on! On our trip, the helpful staff prepped the pots, then encouraged us to have a go throwing one into the water. After ten minutes or so you get to pull them out and it is fun when you grab the rope and pull, pull, pull as quickly as you can because speed is the key. Our group managed to pull up ten crabs in our pots. Now on our tour it was a Rex Hunt ‘kiss and throw them back’ situation, but ordinarily on these tours they will show you how to cook the crabs and you’ll get to enjoy some freshly cooked! It was informative and entertaining, it was actually lovely to be out on the water for a few hours.
Mandurah has some beautiful beaches and on some of them you are allowed to take your 4 wheel drive and get off-road. Of course, it’s very important you understand what’s needed before you start fanging along the beach! So an easier option is a tour with Adventure Offroad Training, which gave us some education on how to successfully beach drive. Tyre pressure is key, as it helps you stay on top of the sand and not sink right into it. We happily drove along the beach as the sun was setting. It was more than a little bit lovely and despite a few pre-jaunt nerves it was all kinds of fun. We even got to get our car bogged on purpose so they could show us how to get it out. Handy for our future beach driving pursuits.
On this evening we were driven to Tim’s Thicket, a particularly picturesque little cove.
Here we would be enjoying a dinner on the sand, previewing the crab boil, prepared by the talented team from Flics Kitchen.
Flics kitchen and bar is the product of twenty years of hard work, dedication, passion, and countless plane tickets exploring the world’s wines and cuisine. Coming to the Mandurah foreshore, is a business, which is the perfect balance of work hard, play hard, which is the ethos and practice of our dream team.
Will you just look at that menu! It so expertly showcased the region’s special crab, in a range of interesting and exciting ways. I could not wait to get stuck in.
On the drinks side, the wines featured were from Castle Rock Estate (a fabulous Great Southern winery) and beers were provided by a local brewery called Three Rivers Brewing Company. A really interesting range, and some great refreshing brews in the mix. I really enjoyed the Pale Ale and the Kolsch was great too.
Onto the food…we commenced proceedings with some very impressive canapes, that were all serious taste sensations, from pickled octopus to entirely addictive school prawns to pork lolly pops with a punchy chilli caramel sauce to a heavenly creamy crab bruschetta. What a line up it was!
It was hard to pick a favourite in amongst all that deliciousness, but the blue manna crab croquettes with spiced avocado and herb crème fraiche were complete perfection and totally highlighted the delicate flavours of the crab and the pairing was just inspired.
If eating a dozen of these was an option I would have been all over it, but the main event was also a total celebration of Mandurah’s finest. It was time for the crab boil! And will you look at it all plated up! Hammers and tongs to get cracking on the crab legs and then corn cobs and potatoes that were gently infused with a crab flavor. It was hands on, a little messy, entirely tasty and a whole lot of fun. This is my pick of events for the Crab Fest in March, the Crab Boil is sure to be fabulous.
That dinner on the beach, with my toes in the sand and the waves crashing a stone’s throw away while I got to enjoy beautiful West Aussie food, in the company of charming people was an amazing evening and one that will long stay in my memory as one of my favourites.
We were delivered back to our rooms, which were individual bell tents in a magical, fairy lit glamping village that had been created for our group by the talented team from Soul Camping. Each tent adorned with bunting and lovingly prepared with comfortable double bed and a stash of cookies (just in case we were still hungry) by Baked by Erica – delicious! It was a very sound sleep I enjoyed that night after all the fresh air activities.
Waking up beside the Mandurah water ways and seeing a local dolphin splish splashing about was all kinds of special. Plus we were then spoilt for breakfast with freshly baked pastries and seasonal fruits from local café Decadent C’s. One wonders how many pastries in the morning is too many…… I feel I was (happily) testing the boundaries – they were fabulous!
It had been a long time between visits to Mandurah for me, but after this magic staycation I felt really excited about heading back in the future. So peruse the Mandurah Crab Fest line up and start planning your visit with just a short drive south. It will be delicious fun!
Mayor Vergone said the Crab Fest weekend was a celebration of local produce and flavours, in particular the popular Blue Manna crabs. “Over 120,000 local, national and international visitors are expected to head to Mandurah for Crab Fest which shows-off our great city, stunning waterways and local produce,” she said.
For details on Western Australia’s largest free regional event, visit www.crabfest.com.au
My thanks to the City of Mandurah for this invitation and the opportunity to enjoy such a special staycation in your fair city!