Araluen Fremantle Chilli Festival

rlnchllOne of the most beautiful public gardens in Perth, Western Australia is Araluen Botanic Park which is sequestered away in the hills near the suburb of Roleystone.

Several years ago, they began to host the annual Araluen Chilli Festival, but as parking at the gardens was very limited the sheer popularity of the event forced them to move the festival to a much larger venue, so they chose the Esplanade Park in the port city of Fremantle in which to host the event.

Given that Fremantle has much more parking than Araluen, and public transport is good, plus the fact that the park is really quite large; the Araluen Fremantle Chilli Festival has become one of Perth’s most popular and widely attended food festivals.

Just about everything to do with chillies is celebrated at the festival, from chilli beer and ice cream to explosively hot sauces, and foods from every continent which feature the humble chilli.

With over 80 stalls selling chilli-laced foods, drinks and products, and lots of chilli plants on sale, the annual festival attracts tens of thousands of people, who go with the object of gorging themselves with chillies.

Australia is a cosmopolitan country which boasts a population of people who have their origins in about 170 countries, and the diversity of cuisines that are available is simply astounding. With so much food on offer, one of the best ways to gauge the best foods is to look at the queues in front of each stall. If a stand has a queue which extends for many metres, then you know that the food is good.

As well as paying for your chosen meals, there are also plenty of stalls which offer free tasting in a bid to encourage patrons to purchase. Many of these products are divine, and it is common to see visitors leaving the festival with armloads of chilli products which, presumably, will keep them going until the next festival.

The Chilli Festival is about more than food, as bands and entertainers are out in full force, and there are cooking and other displays which entice people to keep cooking with chillies.

It has taken Australians about 40 years to really embrace the chilli, as I recall visiting one of Australia’s first Mexican restaurants just after it opened in the 1970s and eating my first chilli. It was a love affair with that hot little vegetable that has continued until this day, and to attend the annual Araluen Fremantle Chilli Festival to celebrate such a tasty morsel is something I really look forward to doing.

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