More than 400 people enjoyed the inaugural Barham River Festival at Apollo Bay on Saturday 28th February.
The venue, at Great Ocean Road Wines on the Barham River Road, came alive as guest speakers, river experts, environmentalists, exhibitors, musicians, artists, and craftsman, attracted hundreds of locals and newcomers.
One of the highlights was the presentation by Vasili Kanidiadis the presenter of Vasili’s Garden TV show on Channel 31 and SBS. Vasili brought his family. He said, “I’ve never been in this part of Victoria before. We’ll be back, we love what you are doing here.”
A visitor from Torquay said, “ I was amazed to see so many different organisations being so proactive. Please do this again.” Heidi from Colac said, “The speakers were fantastic, I have learnt a huge amount. It’s so inspiring to see so many people motivated by the environment.”
Community groups such as Otway Ranges Climate Action, the Agroforrestry Network and Permaculture; as well as local Government Agencies including: Barwon Water, the CCMA, Colac Otway Shire, Southern Otway Landcare Network, CFA, and Parks Victoria answered questions about living in the Catchment from their display stands.
President of the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group, and Festival organiser, Denise Hooke, said, “One of the unexpected achievements of the day was that the exhibitors took advantage of the opportunity to talk to one another, to compare priorities, swap stories and, as a result, will work more closely together.”
“The Festival was about connecting people with their river and with each other,” she said.
The idea for the Festival came from the development of a comprehensive management framework for the Barham River by the Otway Barham Reference Group. This powerful partnership between a local Landcare Group and Government Agencies was established when part of the Barham River was declared a Special Water Supply Catchment.
Attendees were asked to contribute to assessing how successful the Festival had been in improving their understanding of the Barham River. Almost every response expressed concern for the health of the river and the need for natural re-vegetation and weed control.
Speakers included, Andrew Lucas, from Geelong, talking about Transition Towns, Tony Evans on composting. River expert, Greg Peters, provided insights into the complexity and interdependence of the Barham River system. Trevor Pescott, surveyed the fauna of the Otways, Psychologist, Peter Popko spoke about the importance of the environment to our personal health, and Steve Reddington (Barwon Water), and Dinh Truong and Emma Hopkins spoke about practical strategies for reducing consumption in the home.
Apollo Bay barista, Bridy Trew, who was employed to produce great coffee from the Great Ocean Road Wines espresso machine said, “I had no idea that so many groups were involved in managing the health of the river.”