Posted on 09/03/2015 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Community Converges on Nature Parks Open Day
Over 1500 members of the Bass Coast Shire community enjoyed all the action of Phillip Island Nature Parks’ fifth annual Community Open Day held on Sunday 1 March.
The annual day featured free entry to all Nature Parks attractions as well as special and exciting activities with rangers and volunteers.
The day’s events started with a gathering of residents and their dogs for a ‘Dogs’ Breakfast’. The group walked with Nature Parks rangers and Hooded Plover Watch community volunteers to view the resident Hooded Plovers. Rangers explained how responsible dog owners and wildlife can live together successfully and also invited residents to become involved in the ‘Hooded Plover Watch’ volunteer program.
The Koala Conservation Centre was a hub of activity throughout the day with the Koala Experience walk and talk including bird watching with BirdLife Bass Coast volunteers. The guided tour of the Barbara Martin Bushbank community plant nursery was also popular.
Visitors also enjoyed an ‘expo’ of community groups including the CFA, Landcare and Westernport Water who delighted the community with demonstrations and giveaways.
A very special part of the day was the ‘Spirit of the Land’ activity where Boonwurrung elder Caroline Briggs welcomed the community with a moving speech and smoking ceremony. Participants were then treated to a performance by the ‘Tjidy Tjidy’ dance group which takes its name from the language word for the Willy Wagtail bird.
In the afternoon, the focus moved to Churchill Island where staff and volunteers gave special demonstrations including working sheep dogs, cow milking and old time skills such as crafting wooden wheel spokes. Churchill Island curator, Christine Grayden also showcased a very special exhibition on the fascinating and adventurous life of one of Churchill Island’s past owners, Dr Harry Jenkins.
The Wildlife Extravaganza at the Penguin Parade attracted crowds of locals who enjoyed watching the fox detection dogs, Jazz and Sam, demonstrating their skills. Children also loved painting their own possum or bird box home and completing the special passport activity throughout the day.
Locals were also fascinated by the ‘Wildlife Rescue’ activity where they learned about how the Nature Parks cares for sick and injured wildlife, gained tips for living with wildlife and learnt what to do if they find injured wildlife on Phillip Island.
In the early evening little penguin expert, Dr Andre Chiaradia, led a tour titled ‘The Private Lives of Penguins’ to an enthralled group. Andre told stories of the lives of little penguins and the important world-leading research programs run by the Nature Parks which are supported by the work of the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation. On the day, Westernport Water donated the funds they raised at their stall to the work of this important charity.
As the sun began to fade in the sky, locals settled in to enjoy the Penguin Parade and marvel at the sight of our famous little penguins coming ashore after a day’s fishing.
“We are very proud of the work of the Nature Parks to protect and enhance Phillip Island’s environment. We are equally proud to showcase our team and the dedicated volunteers that support them to our community each year,” said Matthew Jackson, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Chief Executive Officer.
“We would like to thank everyone involved in the Community Open Day 2015 and invite the community to consider joining one of the many wonderful volunteer groups who work with the Nature Parks to care for Phillip Island’s environment, culture and wildlife.”
“Everyone is encouraged to mark the annual event in their diary for next year. Our Community Open Day is held on the first Sunday in March each year. Look out for advertisements and information in local papers and on our website,” said Mr Jackson.