Marine Education Society of Australasia
Home | About MESA | Contact MESA | Seaweek | Site Resources | Marine Links | International News | MESA History
  Seaweek 2003    

Exploring Our Oceans

From little things big things grow . . . Barwon Heads, Vic - Festival of the Sea
Mark Rodrigue, Parks Victoria (and our MESA President)

Now in its 3rd year, the Festival of the Sea came about as a result of simple idea and conversation with a friend who is President of the Barwon Heads Traders Association. I had returned from a Seaweek meeting and was pushing the notion of community celebration of relationship with the marine environment. As the location for many of the outdoor scenes for the ABC's "Seachange", Barwon Heads seemed like the perfect place for such a community event. The idea fell on to fertile soil and now the event is a fixture on the local calendar and the Festival of the Sea group an incorporated community association.

The mission for the festival is "Celebrating our links to the sea through the diversity of our environment, history, culture and lifestyle". This year the festival reached out to more people than before and undertook extensive marketing to attract people to the major community aspects of the festival over the weekend of the 15th and 16th March. But what the general public weren't' able to be involved with was the huge education program that accompanied the festival. This article focuses on some elements of this program and the images provide a snapshot of what has made this a hugely successful Seaweek event.


Q: What's big and red and made of rock?
A: Barwon Bluff of course. And in late 2002 Barwon Bluff became a part of the system of Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries in Victoria, providing it with full protection for its animals and plants. Barwon Bluff has also been a focal point for a number of environment action groups that over the years have worked hard to restore the natural values of vegetation on the bluff itself as well as raise community awareness as to its significance. It then seemed quite appropriate that this years Festival of the Sea should focus largely on the environment of the Bluff and provide opportunities for local people to learn about it in different ways.

Wednesday 12th March
Community Coastal Forum: Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary. Sponsored and organised by Dianne Moore from Coast Action / Coastcare, members of the Barwon Heads community and other interested organisations came together for a full day of information and investigation for our new Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary.

Parks Victoria staff provided an overview of the natural values of the Bluff ( This was followed by an introduction to Victoria's Reefwatch program (, presented with the aim of generating interest for a community Reefwatch group for the Marine Sanctuary.

The group then headed out on and under the Bluff for a first hand look at what makes this such an important area and to see some of the issues first hand. Following lunch on the beach the group re-assembled for further presentations by Parks Victoria staff on community involvement in the development of detailed management plans for the Marine Sanctuary and opportunities to be involved in research programs. The day concluded with an overview of Victoria's marine biodiversity and fishing issues by Dr. Tim O'Hara from the Museum of Victoria. Dianne from Coast Action / Coastcare did a magnificent job in supporting and coordinating this forum and for empowering people to get involved in their local environment.

Land Sea and Sky Slide Night: The Barwon Heads coast is home to a vast array of flora, fauna and marine life. Three speakers introduced residents and visitors to the wonders of our coast and included Trevor Pescott speaking on the birds of the Barwon River from Geelong to the Bluff; David King presenting the bugs and insects, the 'creepy crawlies' of Barwon Heads, while Mark Rodrigue took an underwater trip to the wonders of the Barwon Bluff Reef.

Mark in action!

Thursday 13th March
Secondary Schools Day: an event even bigger than last year, Bellarine Secondary College teacher Cheryl Linford and her enthusiastic student Leadership Team put together an exciting and diverse program to engage all of the BSC's Year 8 students, plus representatives from 5 other secondary schools, in coastal issues and Exploring our Oceans. With a cast of many leaders the students visited the coast, undertook fishing clinics, explored the regions geology, went on rockpool rambles, learned about river revegetation issues, photographed the coast, participated in arts activities and much more.

The school students had invited representatives from many organisations to develop and deliver elements of the comprehensive program including the Marine Discovery Centre, Queenscliff; Coast Action; Parks Victoria; Waterwatch; Melbourne Aquarium; Barwon Water; Fishcare; Barwon Coast; and Friends of the Bluff. Further details on the schools day are provided in a separate article from the students in this issue of Undercurrents.

Coastal Managers Forum: As one of leading managers of the Victorian coast, Barwon Coast Committee of Management presented for the second year running a coastal managers forum. This workshop was designed for on-ground managers and workers brings together representatives of the various organisations that are directly involved in the management of our coastal fringe to look at and learn new ideas in integrated coastal zone management.Photo Competition: The annual photo competition had a diverse range of entries in themes raging from Your Local environment to Travel and Pets. The winners were announced at the special evening presentation.

Friday 14th March
Primary Schools Day:
Barwon Heads PS were visited in the morning by local wacky theatre group "Skipjack Theatre" for a performance of their irreverent look at coastal issues " Yuppie Beach". Focussed on an urban family's visit to the beach for a summer camping trip, the play engaged the audience with many of the issues that stem from a lack of awareness of the sensitive nature of our coastal environments.

Following this the whole school went to the beach for a BBQ lunch followed by a chance to explore the rockpools under the guidance of Bellarine SC Leadership Group Year 9 students, that organised the previous day, as well as number of invited staff from Parks Victoria, Coast Action and the Marine Discovery Centre.

Saturday 15th March
Street Festival:
Closing down the main street for a community information and Sustainable Living expo brought together an exciting mixture of environmental messages combined with the commercial realities of community markets. Many of the regions leading environment agencies and businesses were represented. Music and food, always an important part of community festivals kept the punters happy from 10.00am until 4.00pm.

Sunday 14th March
Festival Day:
This is the big day for the Festival of the Sea: From the early morning combined churches service on the beach, to a wide a range of environment activities such as free rockpool rambles, opportunities to visit the newly revamped local interpretive centre, the Lobster Pot, Fishcare's Get Hooked Fishing Clinics, canoe trips to explore the estuary, guided walks across the bluff and an enormous Environmental Expo featuring the many organisations large and small that have an interest in our natural environment and its conservation. There was something for all the family on the main public participation event for the Festival of the Sea key day with over 10,000 people attending throughout the day.

From seagrass to sand, from river to rockpools, from estuaries to entertainment…. the Festival of the Sea had something for all and raised the profile of our community's important links to our ocean environment.

Photos kindly provided by Martin Klabbers ( Find a link to the MESA website for all the photographs. Special Thanks to Festival of the Sea Environment Group, Jon Duthie, Dianne Moore, Cheryl Linford, Parks Victoria, and the Marine Discovery Centre, Queenscliff.

Search site


Moore Educational

Nautilus Educational


   Contact Web Manager © MESA 1999 - 2008
0.00000 secs   
  BriTer Solutions   SpiderByte Web Design Top