Iconic shark at­tracts whale of a party time

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Louise Alling­ham

Rev­ellers turned out in droves to Ex­mouth last weekend for the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the Nin­ga­loo Coast’s most iconic res­i­dent, the whale shark.

Hun­dreds of Ex­mouth lo­cals and vis­i­tors at­tended the 2017 Nin­ga­loo Whale Shark Fes­ti­val last weekend.

The an­nual fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the yearly mi­gra­tion of whale sharks to the Nin­ga­loo Reef with a three-day pro­gram of events.

The fes­tiv­i­ties started in style on Fri­day night at the fes­ti­val gala open­ing night at Mana­trays Nin­ga­loo Beach Re­sort.

Guests put their glad rags on and en­joyed a night of gourmet food, drinks and en­ter­tain­ment from didgeri­doo vir­tu­oso Mark Atkins, Swedish cir­cus per­former Jo­han Well­ton and Afro-Kreol mu­si­cian Grace Barbe.

Some fes­ti­val-go­ers were up bright and early on Satur­day morn­ing for the Fancy Dress Fun Run.

Par­tic­i­pants had a healthy start to the fes­ti­val day with a 4km run or walk around Ex­mouth.

Talan­jee Oval was a hub of ac­tiv­ity through­out Satur­day with an ar­ray of mar­ket stalls, ac­tiv­i­ties, dis­plays, food vans and en­ter­tain­ment.

The Perth Sym­phony Orches­tra string quar­tet per­formed, while the Gas­coyne in May troupe wowed the crowd with an ac­ro­bat­ics dis­play.

There were also per­for­mances from mu­si­cians Ray­mond Ed­ney, Tom Day, Mark Atkins and Blue Child Col­lec­tive.

This was Day’s first time at the Whale Shark Fes­ti­val and he said he was stoked to be a part of it.

“It’s such a good com­mu­nity vibe here,” he said.

“It’s so much fun and ev­ery­one’s just happy — it’s great.”

Lo­cal kids showed their danc­ing and mu­sic skills in the “ExFac­tor” ama­teur tal­ent show.

There were also plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties to keep the whole fam­ily en­ter­tained all day, in­clud­ing a harp-mak­ing work­shop, free face paint­ing, an in­flat­able ninja ob­sta­cle course and rides.

Re­searchers from the Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife, CSIRO and Eco­cean were in at­ten­dance to ed­u­cate and in­form fes­ti­val-go­ers about whale sharks and other Nin­ga­loo ma­rine life.

Eco­cean is a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to whale shark re­search, ed­u­ca­tion and con­ser­va­tion.

Eco­cean ma­rine con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­o­gist Brad Nor­man said Ex­mouth was the best place in the world to swim with and re­search whale sharks.

“Whale sharks are amaz­ing crea­tures — a crea­ture I’ve been work­ing on for 20 years,” he said.

“I keep com­ing back to Ex­mouth and the Nin­ga­loo and it still gives me a buzz ev­ery time I go out and I’ll keep go­ing and keep try­ing to un­der­stand more about this species and re­ally help with long-term con­ser­va­tion.”

On Satur­day night, fes­ti­val­go­ers headed to Cadil­lac’s Bar and Grill for the fes­ti­val con­cert night.

When sup­port band Datura4 hit the stage their rock­ing tunes man­aged to at­tract a large crowd by the end of their set.

De­spite a mid-set tech­ni­cal mishap due to a rowdy au­di­ence mem­ber’s thrown thong, head­lin­ers the Southern River Band lived up to their rep­u­ta­tion as one of Perth’s best live acts.

Datura4 front­man and WA mu­sic vet­eran Dom Mar­i­ani said it was a great night and he was a big fan of the Southern River Band.

“Cal­lum and the boys are just a very unique band — very en­ter­tain­ing,” he said. “He’s got a big fu­ture that kid.” Mar­i­ani said he had a fan­tas­tic time dur­ing his first Ex­mouth visit and that would def­i­nitely be re­turn­ing to ex­plore the reef.

Whale shark tour op­er­a­tors dis­counted swims on Sun­day for the Big Day Out on the Reef.

Fes­ti­val-go­ers headed to the ocean to swim with the real stars of the fes­ti­val — the big­gest fish in the sea.

The fes­ti­val came to a close on Sun­day evening at the Ex­mouth Yacht Club’s fes­ti­val sun­downer.

Pun­ters en­joyed food, drinks, fam­ily fun ac­tiv­i­ties and en­ter­tain­ment from mu­si­cians who had per­formed through­out the fes­ti­val, in­clud­ing Day and Barbe.

Picture: Louise Alling­ham

Pictures: Louise Alling­ham

Southern River Band front­man Cal Kramer.

Gas­coyne in May troupe with the Perth Sym­phony Orches­tra string quar­tet.

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