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Published on : Thursday, May 26, 2016
After the success of 2015’s inaugural festival, Naturefest – an exciting program of winter events in Port Stephens – will return this year, running from June 1 to July 13, 2016.The festival aims to celebrate and promote the region as one of NSW’s premier nature destinations. Just 2½ hours north of Sydney, Port Stephens is home to large populations of dolphins, koalas, kangaroos, birdlife and passing whales, as well as large tracts of national and marine park.
Spearheaded by Destination Port Stephens in collaboration with industry operators and supported by Port Stephens Council, Naturefest is expected to see people of all ages visit the beautiful coastal region from throughout NSW and beyond.
The festival will begin with an official launch of the whale season on June 1, 2016, from 9am, with half-priced whale watching cruises available for the first tour of the day. Festival highlights will include the dolphin census on June 5, World Ocean Day on June 8 and a world record attempt – the creation of a human whale on a local beach on July 3, 2016. A photography competition will run from June 1 to July 14, 2016.
Highlights of the full program includes:
· Wednesday, June 1 – Official launch of the whale season, held at d’Alobra Marina, Nelson Bay from 9am. Half-price whale watching cruises will be available for the first tour of the day at 9.30am.
· June 1 – July 13 – The Shutterfest photography competition invites photographers to snap a shot that reflects the natural environment of Port Stephens. The competition is free to enter and has age divisions from eight to 13 and 14-18 as well as adults. Prizes include Camera House gift cards and Port Stephens adventure vouchers. A people’s choice prize will also be awarded.
Two perfect opportunities to get some great shots are Moonshadow’s Sunrise Photography Cruise, held on Saturday, July 9, and a photography tour offered by Port Stephens 4WD Tours on Sunday, July 10.
· World Environment Day – Sunday, June 5 – Volunteers are invited to take part in the Port Stephens Dolphin Census, which provides an important insight into the health of the local dolphin population. Volunteers will be stationed around the Port Stephens estuary to take photographs and report on dolphins they encounter from 11am to noon.
· June 6 to June 12 – Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters will celebrate World Ocean Day throughout the week, with activities including an artistic ocean art display, free shark encounters for those who take on the better bag challenge, ocean games for children and giveaways.
· World Ocean Day – Wednesday, June 8 – A marine discovery evening will be held at Tomaree Library and Community Centre in Salamander Bay from 6.30pm. Come and learn everything about the creatures that call the Port Stephens waters their home.
· June Long Weekend, June 11, 12 and 13 – Blue Water Country and Blues Music Festival is will provide a range of music performances, market stalls and displays throughout Port Stephens.
· Sat and Sun, June 18 and 19 – Historic Tomago House will host innovative floral displays created by local garden clubs, florists and nurseries. A wide range of garden-related presentations will be on offer, including one about local koalas. Devonshire teas will be served in the period dining room, and guests can stroll through the picturesque grounds. From 10am to 4pm. Cost is $7 for adults, $5 concession.
· Saturday, June 25 – D’Albora Marina will host the official launch of a new Marine Rescue NSW vessel for Port Stephens, providing the community the opportunity to come along and inspect the vessel and say thank you to our local volunteers. Children will also be able to get up close and personal with local native reptiles.
· Sunday July 3 – The humpback makes a comeback as hundreds come together to create the shape of a human humpback whale on the beach in an attempt to break the world record. A unique and fun experience for the family, held at Shoal Bay Beach (western end) from 10am.
Local operators Moonshadow Cruises-TQC and Imagine Cruises will be running daily whale watching and dolphin watching cruises from D’Albora Marina Nelson Bay throughout Naturefest. Combo packages are available, including whale or dolphin cruises and sandboarding on Australia’s biggest sand dunes in Port Stephens.
Source:-Visit Port Stephens