by Amanda Kahn
One of the two driving routes to get to Bamfield takes Trans-Canada Hightway 1 north from Victoria up to Nanaimo, then BC-19 to Parksville, then takes Highway BC-4 W toward Port Alberni. From there, it’s a route along the logging roads. However, a slight detour, taking Highway BC-4a instead of BC-4, adds only a few minutes and takes you through a wonderful town called Coombs.
To be honest, I’ve only really explored one little part of Coombs, and that is the Old Country Market…better known as “Goats on the Roof” market.
Inside the market, there are delicious gourmet breads, cheeses, cuts of meat, a fantastic little deli and cafe, and lots of international decorations–really, there’s a bit of everything in there. Farther down the road from the market is also an ice cream shop (hey, yet another way to get ice cream while working in Bamfield! Cash only.), and a very affordable produce stand with local BC produce. Also, the roof is an environmentally friendly sod roof, and to
keep the grass cut / economize on space / entertain people / be really awesome, there are goats that live on that roof. My favorite quotation from the reviews on Yelp.ca about the market: “Goats on the roof = automatic awesomeness.”
Coombs is a great place to stop at on the way into Bamfield, to pick up specialty gourmet foods before needing to order things in or depend on what you find in the stores there. Apparently, there are also a few other destinations in the tiny town, although I’ve never been to these:
Butterfly World and Gardens – Butterflies, reptiles, and an orchid garden populate the Butterfly World and Gardens in Coombs. If you miscalculate the time it takes to get to the ferry in Nanaimo and have to wait for the next one, you may want to check this place out.
World Parrot Refuge – The refuge provides a place for previously-owned pet parrots to live out their lives. They also invite visitors in to learn about parrots and have a huge volunteer base. Seriously, if I lived near a parrot refuge, I’d be a volunteer! How cool is that?
Also, a rodeo and a bluegrass festival bring visitors to the tiny town each summer. Wow. I’m going to bet every tiny town has as much going on in it as tiny Coombs–I’m just familiar with the happenings of this little place. Definitely take the detour–it will only be a few minutes extra driving and will let you stock up on hot sauces and specialty Italian cookies before heading out to Bamfield, plus you’ll see goats! On a roof!