City won’t rule out fes­ti­val spend

Geraldton Guardian - - NEWS - Francesca Mann

City of Greater Ger­ald­ton coun­cil­lors have agreed to con­sider al­lo­cat­ing $50,000 to the Batavia Coast Mar­itime Her­itage As­so­ci­a­tion for a one-off event cel­e­brat­ing the his­tory of the Hout­man Abrol­hos Is­lands.

A fur­ther $100,000 will be con­sid­ered in the 2019-2020 bud­get if the her­itage as­so­ci­a­tion is able to se­cure sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from other sources.

The Balayi — Open Your Eyes fes­ti­val will be held on July 27 and 28, mark­ing the 400th year since the is­lands were dis­cov­ered by Dutch ex­plor­ers Fred­er­ick de Hout­man and Ja­cob d’Edel in 1619.

The dis­cov­ery oc­curred 151 years be­fore Cap­tain James Cook dis­cov­ered the east coast of Aus­tralia in 1770.

Cr Natasha Col­liver said the fes­ti­val would be a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity to show­case the city.

“It will put us on the map for our lo­cal mar­itime his­tory, which is like none other in Aus­tralia,” she said.

“It will host a se­ries of events . . . viewed from the dif­fer­ent cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences from 1619 right through to the cur­rent sto­ries of the Abrol­hos and our rich lo­cal Ya­matji cul­ture. And it’ll pro­mote the unique beauty and re­mote­ness of the Abrol­hos Is­lands, which we all agree has sig­nif­i­cant value to our com­mu­nity.

“The event is much big­ger than just Aus­tralia and us.

“It builds on our strong ties with the Nether­lands.”

Dur­ing the or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing last week, coun­cil­lors voted 11-4 in favour of con­sid­er­ing the fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion in the 2018-19 mid-year bud­get re­view.

Cr Col­liver said the group had al­ready ap­plied for fund­ing from sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions and groups, in­clud­ing Coun­try Arts WA and Lot­tery­west.

But Cr Vic­tor Tanti op­posed the mo­tion, not­ing the need for “real tourism” to be de­vel­oped first on the is­lands.

“We might get 3000-5000 ex­tra vis­i­tors to Ger­ald­ton, but then what?” he said.

“No progress has been made in re­gard to real tourism on the is­lands . . . and we need to con­vince the State Gov­ern­ment to let it hap­pen so peo­ple can stay at the is­lands.

“What an­noys me is there is tourism on the is­lands which is to­tally un­reg­u­lated and un­con­trolled.

“I also have doubts on whether the 400th an­niver­sary will ac­tu­ally be that much of an at­trac­tion for peo­ple.”

Crs Tanti, Tar­leah Thomas, Graeme By­lund and Jen­nifer Critch voted against the mo­tion.

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