WORDS: ANDREA BAIRD
Bruny Island Bird Festival
Destination: Bruny Island, Tasmania
Dates: 14-17 October 2016
If you love wild places, wildlife, and glimpsing something rare in this world, take yourself off to the Bruny Island Bird Festival this month.
Bruny Island, just off the south-east coast of mainland Tasmania, is home to about 150 birds. 12 which are found nowhere else on the planet. The folk at The Bruny Island Bird Festival have put together a wonderful program to ensure you get to see as many of these birds as possible, including rare and endangered species.
Bruny Island is considered to be one of the Top 10 places in Australia for bird watching. It has some of Tasmania’s most intact natural environments of both forest and coastline. It is a haven for many rare and endangered plants and animals including the Forty-spotted pardalote, the endangered orange-bellied parrot and the rare white Bennetts wallabies. This is the 4th year the biennual Bird Festival has been held on Bruny Island. Festival Organiser Daniel Sprod, said locals wanted to “celebrate the natural riches that Bruny Island offers” and “focus attention on the natural assets that we all take for granted”. They hope to inform and educate people as well as celebrate and have fun. To this end organisers have put together a stimulating and diverse program which caters for experienced and beginner bird watchers.
This year they have also extended their events to include a large range of activities for children and families including kite making, mask making, and writing and illustration workshops. Bird watching is a great reason to take yourself or your family out into the natural world and is growing in popularity. It is relaxing, some would say meditative, provides gentle exercise, and ensures a deeper understanding of nature. During the Festival there will be many bird watching tours through forest, on the shoreline, on private properties not normally open to the public, and even at sea. The tours will be led by profesional ornithologists and ecologists who will give tips on how to recognise species, wildlife behaviour, bird song, and habitat identiﬁcation.
The Festival offers an array of cultural experiences as well as tours, expert talks and educational activities. One rare and endearing species you can be sure to see at the Festival is Michael Leunig, National Living Treasure, cartoonist, poet and social commentator, who is this year’s special guest. Michael said he was looking forward to ﬁnding inspiration in an event held “in honour of birds; these creatures which have been integral to my work, and for me represent something divine and inspirational beyond the human condition”.
Photography will be a key feature of the Festival and tips will be given by renown wildlife photographer Chris Tzaros. There is poetry reading, art exhibitions, a gatepost bird sculpture competition, and a masked ball to ensure a little glamour to spice up all that traipsing around in the scrub. During the Festival the population of Bruny Island, which is normally around 600, almost doubles so this is quite a signiﬁcant event for the island.
Money raised by the Festival will be used in a range of conservation projects including construction of nesting boxes for the Forty-spotted pardalote where natural nesting hollows have been lost; education in schools about how to co-exist on beaches with nesting shore-birds; and education in the community to help cat owners understand their responsibilities.
The Festival is run by volunteers so if you would like to help out you will be warmly welcomed.
Access to Bruny Island is 45 km south of Hobart by car to Kettering where you can take a 15 minute vehicle ferry ride across to the island. Accommodation on the island during the Festival will range from camping to luxury holiday homes. While on Bruny you could also check out the spectacular beaches, the famous Cape Bruny Lighthouse, the fairy penguins at the Neck, the fur-seal colony, spot a white Bennett’s wallaby, as well as sample some of Bruny Island’s famous home grown food and wine.
The Bruny Island Bird Festival 2016 promises to be a fantastic celebration of Bruny’s spectacular birds, habitats and landscapes. Visit this beautiful wild part of Australia and take advantage of local hosts showing you the highlights.
Bruny Island Bird Festival 2016 is on 14 – 17 October.
Images courtesy © Tallulah Baird, Bruny Island Bird Festival, Alfred Schulte, Chris Tzaros
Andrea Baird is a freelance writer based in Brisbane. She loves living outdoors. She and her husband and three daughters recently finished a two-year trip around Australia in their bus. From the craggy coastlines of Tasmania up through the majestic ranges in Central Australia and then to the wild waterfalls and creeks of Far North Queensland it was awe inspiring to see how vast and diverse Australia is. As a family they did a lot of volunteering as they went and found it was a great way to step off the tourist track and become a local. You can enjoy Andrea’s travel blog here.
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