Fleet blessing to celebrate start of whale watching season
Roving entertainers, tasty food stalls and fun children’s rides will all be part of Hervey Bay’s traditional Blessing of the Fleet which signals the start of the whale watching season on July 21 this year.
Brendan Bowers, event coordinator with Fraser Coast Tourism & Events, said a Butchulla welcome, aloha chant and multi-faith blessing would also be highlights of the event, presented by USC, from 4pm to 7.30pm.
“Visitors can step aboard to check out the many whale watching vessels, enjoy a sail past, see a great live performance by Hervey Bay’s Leonie Kingdom, who recently topped Triple J’s Unearthed chart, and watch the fantastic fireworks display,” he said.
“The fleet blessing is a centuries-old seafaring tradition to foster a safe and prosperous season.
“These days it’s joined with stalls selling great-tasting food for families to grab something quick, easy and affordable to eat plus a host of kids’ entertainment such as face painting and rides.”
The Aloha Mai E chant will be performed by Hervey Bay’s Leandra Gurbiel who has been trained in Hawaii.
“The chant is a calling to the humpback whales, invoking the blessing of migration,” she said.
Ms Gurbiel said it was also about bringing the community together for love and connection and wishing a safe journey to those on the water.
The activities on the day will also include a Marine Rescue Hervey Bay open day from 2pm to 5pm at the Great Sandy Straits Marina to promote awareness of the volunteer service.
Vice-Commodore Jill Barclay said people would be able to tour the base, step aboard their boats, see displays such as life rafts, ask boating questions and find out more about volunteering.
“We are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” she said.
“Probably about a third of the work we do is medical evacuations from Fraser Island.”
She said the marine rescue crew also monitored radio messages and helped with search and rescue operations.
Mr Bowers said it was always terrific to see crowds come out supporting the whale fleet and making the most of the magnificent marina.
For more information about the Blessing of the Fleet, visit herveybayoceanfestival.com.au.
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