Posted on 15/03/2016 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Community Loves What’s New at Nature Parks
Over 2500 members of the Bass Coast Shire community enjoyed discovering what’s new at Phillip Island Nature Parks’ sixth annual Community Open Day held on Sunday 6 March.
The annual day featured free entry to all Nature Parks attractions as well as activities with rangers and volunteers to showcase the Nature Parks’ newest attractions and environmental programs.
The day’s events started with a gathering of residents and their dogs for a ‘Dogs’ Breakfast’ at Smiths Beach. The group walked with Nature Parks’ rangers and Hooded Plover Watch community volunteers to view the resident Hooded Plover family. 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.
Churchill Island then put on a show in the morning with sheep shearing, working dog demonstrations, face painting and old time games. Curator Christine Grayden and Friends of Churchill Island Society volunteers delighted visitors with a display about the island’s most famous owner in the late 1800s, Samuel Amess. Children were invited to try their hand at some old time chores such as butter churning. Locals also had the opportunity to meet and speak to the Nature Parks’ Dr Duncan Sutherland and Zoos Victoria’s Dr Amy Coetsee about the recent introduction of Eastern Barred Bandicoots onto Churchill Island in an ambitious trial release designed to save the species from extinction in Victoria.
The new ‘Antarctic Journey’ at the Nobbies Centre was busy from the moment it opened with curious locals coming to experience the exciting new display through guided tours. They also were able to speak with research staff to learn about the dangers of plastic pollution in our oceans.
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 nearby Barbara Martin Bushbank community plant nursery was once again popular.
Visitors also enjoyed an ‘expo’ of community groups including the CFA, Landcare and Westernport Water who delighted the community with demonstrations and giveaways.
In the afternoon, John Jansson presented a fascinating insight into the Shipwrecks of Phillip Island to an enthralled audience, before the Nature Parks’ environment team delighted visitors with a demonstration with fox dogs Sam and Jazz who run over 1700km each year in search of Phillip Island’s last remaining foxes. Possum and bird box painting were also popular with all ages, and all children loved completing their ‘Open Day’ quest to win a badge and beautiful hand painted environmental book.
In the early evening little penguin experts 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 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 faded in the sky, a crowd gathered for the ‘Spirit of the Land’ activity where Boon Wurrung elder Caroline Briggs welcomed the community with a moving speech and smoking ceremony. Participants were then treated to a performance by local Boon Wurrung dancers and were then asked to join the dancers.
Locals then settled in to enjoy the evening Penguin Parade where they marvelled at the little penguins coming ashore after a day’s fishing and returning to their burrows.
“We are very proud of all the new initiatives that the Nature Parks has developed this year and are equally proud to share the work we do to protect and enhance Phillip Island’s environment, along with our community of dedicated volunteers,” said Matthew Jackson, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Chief Executive Officer.
“We would like to thank everyone involved in the Community Open Day 2016 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. Look out for advertisements and information in local papers and on our website,” said Mr Jackson.
Phillip Island Nature Parks Communications Officer
Roland Pick - 0418 402 161