Mary River Festival – Kandanga, 14th November 2015

Mary River Festival 2015

The festival continues to capture the enormous sense relief of six years back when then-federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett vetoed the ill-conceived Traveston Crossing Dam.

Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee Chairman Ian Mackay, acting as one of the MCs for the day, told patrons the festival was a celebration of not so much a victory, as a reprieve for the river and the unique animals that live in it.

He noted that the Mary River catchment took in a number of different council regions and, in recognition of this, invited Noosa Council deputy mayor Bob Abbot, a long-time friend of the Mary, to open the festival.

The downstream catchment was well represented at the festival.

Butchulla artist Jan Williams created a contemporary ground design using pure white sand and ochre oxides. She was assisted by artist Meagan and members of the public. The design represented the Mary River as it winds its way from the Hinterland to Sandy Strait with the circle representing the birthplace of Jan’s father near Curra. Everyone asked Jan lots of cultural questions. As a weaver herself, Jan couldn’t leave without posing with the magnificent turtle created by Kris Martin with members of the community some years ago.

Hervey Bay artist, Erica Neate, always a great festival supporter, spruced up her “Meditation on Creation” installation with a new coat of plaster and brought it to Kandanga for the event.  Made from recycled boat windows, timber circles, and a laundry basket lid, it made a majestic turning circle for the endangered species parade.

Organisers watched ominous storm clouds massing to the south west but felt optimistic as they appeared to pass to the south and word started filtering in of downpours at both Brooloo and Pomona.

Around 3pm though, that optimism was drenched as the heavens opened up.

‘It was a real downpour,” said festival coordinator Joolie Gibbs, “with strong gusts of winds as well as the torrential rain, and at around 3.30 we felt the safest option was to pull the pin on the festival”

“It wasn’t an easy call to make. Conscious of the collective disappointment of organisers, patrons, performers and stallholders we debated soldiering on but our overriding concern was to ensure that everyone could leave the site safely.”

Joolie said she was enormously proud the way everyone rallied to assist in this.

Members of the local fire brigade as well as local youths with four wheel drives helped to tow cars and stallholders’ vans up the very slippery slope and by nightfall all vehicles had been able to leave the site.

It was an impressive operation, she said. ‘It was wonderful the way everyone stayed calm and we were able to clear the site before nightfall with reports indicating more heavy rain on the way.”

The early close to the festival meant that many scheduled events weren’t able to take place. The winners of the Mary Valley Scarecrow competition were announced just before the rain but the winners of the raffles were contacted by phone on Sunday and the winners of the inaugural Spring in the Mary photo competition were advised the following week. Click on the link to see the winning entries Spring in the Mary Competition Winners 2015

Congratulations to Jillian Turner who’s Coonoongibber Creek image won the top prize of $200, and also the people’s choice award of $50.  Second prize of $100 went to Annamiek Wilson for her stunning image of a pelican on Lake Borumba. Congratulations also to junior winner Levi Vella with his image of Rainbow Birds

The post-festival performance of Barry Charles and the Deeper Beat at the Kandanga Hotel went ahead as planned as did the community breakfast on Sunday morning in the Kandanga hall.

When Gympie Mayor Mick Curran sent in an apology as being unable to attend the breakfast, organisers were unphased and quickly called in a replacement. A scarecrow of John Howard was hurriedly wheeled up the road from the festival site to fill the void.