Whale­shark fes­ti­val

Pilbara News - - Front Page - There were whale sharks ev­ery­where to cel­e­brate the 2018 Nin­ga­loo Whale Shark Fes­ti­val. Shannon Beattie

The 2018 Nin­ga­loo Whale Shark Fes­ti­val has come to a close, with the event last week­end draw­ing a record crowd.

The event has been run­ning for 10 years in its cur­rent for­mat, with about 3500 peo­ple at­tend­ing the var­i­ous events across the week­end this year.

As much as the event offers ev­ery­one a good time, Nin­ga­loo Whale Shark Fes­ti­val com­mit­tee chair­woman Cath God­frey said it was ul­ti­mately about rais­ing aware­ness of the big­gest fish in the sea.

“The fes­ti­val aims to pro­mote the Nin­ga­loo reef and the re­gion in gen­eral,” she said.

“Whale sharks are such an amaz­ing eco­log­i­cal tourism op­por­tu­nity, so we re­ally want to get the word out to peo­ple.”

The fes­ti­val opened on Fri­day night with a gala cock­tail party in­clud­ing a wel­come to coun­try and mu­sic by DJ Swami.

Satur­day was the com­mu­nity event in­volv­ing stalls, food and child-friendly en­ter­tain­ment. Gas­coyne in May per­formed ac­ro­bat­ics, celebrity chef Anna Gare cooked up a storm, stall­hold­ers sold arts, crafts and lots of other good­ies, Ex­mouth dance groups put on a show and Nin­ga­loo Swimwear mod­elled the lat­est in surf fash­ion.

Satur­day and Sun­day night was party time, with mu­si­cians from all over the coun­try en­ter­tain­ing the crowds.

For the first time, a mar­quee was erected on Talan­jee Oval on Satur­day night, with Ben Cat­ley, The Tom­my­h­waks and Blue Shaddy tak­ing to the stage. On Sun­day night, ev­ery­one flocked to the yacht club, where Cat­ley and the Tom­my­hawks en­ter­tained again, and Ash Grund­wald wrapped things up.

Ms God­frey said the fes­ti­val was mas­sive for the town, and some­thing peo­ple looked for­ward to ev­ery year.

“It pro­vides the peo­ple of Ex­mouth with some things that they would not nor­mally get to do and en­ter­tain­ment they would nor­mally not get to see,” she said.

Tourism Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia said swim­ming with whale sharks was a mas­sive draw­card for vis­i­tors from around the coun­try and the world, with more than 29,000 peo­ple vis­it­ing the Nin­ga­loo Reef in 2017.

“The State Gov­ern­ment is pleased to sup­port the fes­ti­val, which not only high­lights this fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence and the re­gion to vis­i­tors, but also helps to raise aware­ness of whale shark con­ser­va­tion,” he said.

The fes­ti­val will be back in 2019, big­ger, bet­ter, and co­in­cid­ing with the In­ter­na­tional Whale Shark Con­fer­ence.

Pic­tures: Shannon Beattie

The Tom­my­hawks take to the stage for the se­cond time.

Fes­ti­val closer Ash Grund­wald.

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