These days festivals are all the rage with tourist hungry towns, and locally we have festivals for nearly everything, festivals for jazz, music, folk music, irish music and for nondescript music, but Warrnambool is a bit unique as it is the only city in the region which has a festival which is just dedicated to getting together and having fun. Originally the festivals organisers planned something like Melbourne’s highly successful Moomba festival and for a number of years Wunta commenced on Friday night with a big street party and for the rest of the weekend various sports associations and clubs organised events to coincide with the Wunta weekend. It was very successful until the local government bureaucrats stepped in and decided there should be a high profile band playing on Friday night. This meant they would have to start charging admission, which in turn entailed completely close off the whole street to prevent access to anyone without a ticket. As the costs of security people and temporary fencing rose the numbers of people attending dropped and eventually they moved Wunta to Flagstaff Hill where it very quickly died a natural death In the last few years a local group has reinstated the Wunta festival back to its original concept and the Wunta’s friday night street party has returned to the CBD in Warrnambool and last year attracted good crowds. The rest of the weekend will feature a number of family oriented events including free outdoor music festivals and a number of sporting events designed for the family to enjoy The concept of have a community event such as Wunta is deserving of success and if the current organisers continue in their current direction it will certainly become one of the cities leading attractions
Latest rowing craze inspired by traditional Scottish fishing skiff
In 2009 the Scottish Fishing Museum at St Ayles commissioned the building of a traditional fishing skiff as a local community project to get local people involved in how fishing was conducted over a century ago, and by building the boats themselves it gave them a greater insight into traditional fishing.
The project caught the imagination of other communities right across Scotland and before too long there were literally dozens of community groups being formed and “St Ayles “ skiffs began appearing around the coastal waterways of Scotland.
Enthusiasm quickly spread from the UK, to a number of other countries including the US and Australia where other communities have seen the advantages from such a simple grass roots project. Denise Havard, a member of one of more than 40 St Ayles skiff clubs now in Scotland commented “It works on all levels: you have the whole health and fitness thing, you've got the outdoors, you've got people pulling together, and the boats are built in the community,"
Locally in Australia, the St Ayles skiff project is beginning to take off with clubs being formed in South Australia ,Tasmania and a number of clubs in Victoria including one currently being formed in Warrnambool.
The Warrnambool club has something of an advantage as the local community has recently been given access to Flagstaff Hills fleet of whaleboats which has been an ideal introduction to social rowing. Although the whale boats are slightly larger than the St Ayles Skiff, requiring five rowers rather than four, they are still ideal for the task providing a stable easy to row boat to introduce people to the sport of rowing.
The photo gallery (above) was taken at a recent small boats display on the Warrnambool civic green which was held to publicise the formation of the local St Ayles club..
The 39th annual Port Fairy Folk Festival will get underway on the 6th of March and with all 11,000 tickets sold, all looks set for another successful event. The three day festival is held within a fenced off area at Port Fairy’s Southcombe park and admission is restricted to ticket holders only.
Over the years the festival has spawned a secondary event around the streets of Port Fairy and attracts large numbers of day visitors along with the inevitable craft markets and food vans selling everything from Kangaroo Burgers to Asian stir fries. Originally the festival was predominately centred around Irish ( celtic) music however over the years the music base has broadened and now incorporates a more diverse range of music. Last Year, Aussie rock legend, Normie Rowe made his debut performance at the Folkie.
The photo above shows the “Railway Stage” which is the main “Free” entertainment stage for those without tickets and although you don’t see the top acts outside the main festival, the standard of entertainment is good enough to warrant a visit to Port Fairy even if you don’t have a ticket.
There are a number of other smaller stages around the town plus numerous buskers, food stalls and all variety of arts, crafts and clothing that is part of music festival these days. The Folk festival runs for 3 days over the March Labour day weekend 6 - 9 March and craft seller plus all the standard set which is the the centre of the action over the three days of the festival with . The old Railway station site is the main venue for entertainment during the festival with three or four acts each days providing free entertainment for the day visitors to the town.
Local eccentric aristocrat, The 6th Earl of Stradbroke, Keith Rous has recently placed his vast Mount Fyans estate on the market. The estate which is around 15,000 acres in size is located about 30 kilometres north of Mortlake and includes a mid-1880s homestead with eight bedrooms and a 21-metre hallway with substantial reception rooms.
Amongst the Earl’s eccentricities are listing his recreational activities in “Who's Who” as making babies, once offered to sell his sperm for $200,000 a pop" and changed his family's 1100-year-old motto, from ”I Live in Hope" to "We Fight Like Lions and Breed Like Rabbits".
The Earl has also list for sale, “Henham Hall”, the family estate in the UK which has been in the Rous family for over 500 years. Henham Hall was featured in a recent episode of the Channel 4 (UK) documentary series Time Team and presenter Tony Robinson in an interview with Hektor Rous ( son of the Earl) made special mention of the Hecktors Australian accent and the Australian connection.