A community paddle-out will be held at Bermagui on 14 August as part of a new event to mark the opening of the whale season and to launch this year’s Sapphire Coast Whale Trail.
The Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga festival will connect people to place and celebrate the relationship between whales, Yuin culture and the community.
Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga, which means ‘safe journey whale – many’ in the Dhurga language, will encompass an official opening ceremony including a Welcome to Country, smoking ceremony, dance performance and talks about Yuin cultural connections to whales.
Following the opening ceremony, the paddle-out will welcome the whales as they pass Bermagui on their annual journey south to the Antarctic.
In the lead-up to the event, local school and pre-school children will be involved in creating a community art trail that will bring a splash of colour to the retail precinct of Bermagui.
It is the first of what the tourism industry hopes will be an annual community event.
Anthony Osborne from Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing, said the event was the first initiative of the Sapphire Coast Whale Trail 2021 project with the aim of including Bermagui and other towns in our collective whale story.
“This is a great opportunity to celebrate our rich and enduring history with the whales and the focus on Aboriginal culture will make this a great way to open the season and launch the whale trail project,’’ Mr Osborne said.
Organising committee member and local Yuin man Gordon Campbell is looking forward to sharing local Aboriginal stories with business members and the community at the opening ceremony. ‘
“This is a great way to start the celebration of our whales travelling in Bermagui,” he said.
“I look forward to seeing the community and engaging as we share our local Aboriginal culture, language and watch the whales.’’
As part of the event, Sapphire Coastal Adventures (formerly Merimbula Marina) is offering $25 whale watching tours throughout the day as they settle into their new home in Bermagui for the whale season.
Owner Simon Millar is looking forward to providing regular tours from Bermagui which gives easy access to the sea and close proximity to the stunning surrounds of Montague Island.
‘’With the Merimbula sandbar becoming unreliable we have sought a safe and deep access port from which to operate our tours,” he said.
“Bermagui is a fantastic community and provides great access to Montague Island which draws a diverse range of marine life year round.”
All events will have strictly limited numbers to ensure a COVID-safe environment.