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Posted on 15/03/2021 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

It was record numbers at Phillip Island Nature Parks’ tenth annual Community Open Day as locals came out in support to enjoy the fun and sunshine.

Over 1,200 visitors flocked to Churchill Island in the morning to enjoy the fun of the farm including Old Time Games, Blacksmithing, Kate’s Garden Tour and the Sheep Shearing. The Community Conservation Heroes Expo was also popular with Nature Parks stalls promoting conservation, living with wildlife and reconciliation alongside conservation and community groups showcasing their fabulous work for visitors. Stallholders included Landcare, Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre, CFA, Totally Renewable Phillip Island, Boomerang Bags and Local Clothing.

Volunteers were also a feature of the day at each site spinning and guiding visitors at Churchill Island, and speaking with visitors on the boardwalks at the Koala Conservation Reserve and at the Nobbies Centre.

For some, like the Oxley and Myers families from Dalyston, it was their first Community Open Day. Others, like Maurice and Sienna Johnson from Cowes make it an annual event. “We always look forward to the day,” they said.

Maggie Cross and Sue Denny from Cowes were amongst the first eager visitors and said “I couldn’t wait to be here! I can’t wait to see Peter do the blacksmithing. We got here early because we think it’s going to be busy. We hope to run into friends today.”

The Welcome To Country and Smoking Ceremony at midday featured a yidaki (didgeridoo) performance and reflected the Nature Parks’ commitment to reconciliation and truth telling and working together to care for Country. Uncle Mik Edwards led the ceremony alongside Uncle Shane Clarke and Eric Edwards on yidaki.

This was followed by a Conservation Dog Demonstration as Craig Bester and Stu Murphy put the fox and feral cat detection dogs through their paces to the delight of visitors.

At the Koala Conservation Reserve, it was busy from the time the centre opened its doors with locals enjoying two guided walks with the rangers including Ranger Dan sharing his personal story of working with koalas affected by the 2020 bushfires.

The Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies Centre was buzzing with locals enjoying discovering or re-discovering the exciting exhibition. Members of the Nature Parks research team Dr Duncan Sutherland and Ross Holmberg showcased their work on seal research and Threatened Species accompanied by live music from Shaun Kenney.

In the early evening, Little Penguin experts Dr Andre Chiaradia and Paula Wasiak from the Nature Parks’ research department led ‘The Private Lives of Penguins’ tour. Locals learned about the lives of little penguins and the important world-leading scientific research programs run by the Nature Parks’ Conservation Team which are supported by the work of the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation. On the day, Local Clothing donated a percentage of funds raised at their stall to the work of this important charity.

There was also an exclusive opportunity for the community to meet Ranger Skye and go behind the scenes to get a glimpse of all the magic of the phenomenon of Penguin Live TV for we flicked the switch to stream the Little Penguins live to the world!

The Penguin Parade was a complete sell out and as the sun faded in the sky, lucky locals settled in to marvel at the Little Penguins coming ashore after a day’s fishing and returning to their burrows.

“This is one of our favourite days of the year where we can welcome the community and showcase all the wonderful conservation and community work being done across Bass Coast and we thank you all for supporting the Nature Parks’ aspirations and work – you are all a big part of what we can achieve – we can’t do it without you!” said Sally O’Neill, Community Engagement Officer.

The Nature Parks team thanks everyone for being a part of the day to mark the annual event in their diary for the third Sunday in March next year. See you there!

View photos from the day