Welcome Humpback Whales Back to the Bay

K'gari - Humpback whales - aerial view with calf above mum

Celebrate the visiting humpback whales in style

It’s just weeks from the 2023 Whale Watching season and the Fraser Coast is ready to celebrate!

Each year from July to October thousands of Humpback whales journey into the sheltered waters between Hervey Bay and K’gari where they stop and play for up to two weeks at a time, taking a well-earned break on their annual journey from the south.

To honour these amazing mammals and welcome them back to our shores, Fraser Coast Tourism and Events present the 2023 Hervey Bay Whale Festival.

“This year, we reached out to the community on social media to gather valuable feedback to help create a fun-filled program for the 2023 event,” events manager Chelsea Larner Simpson said.

“As a result, we have changed some site locations and broken the festival into individual events and precincts, offering different opportunities to event attendees, with the main collaboration of the Whale Festival from Friday, August 4 to Sunday, August 6.”

 

Humpback whales - underwater view

Be blessed this year: enjoy a unique festival experience

Showcasing many loved and traditional elements of the yearly festival, this year’s event celebrates the exciting return of The Blessing of the Fleet.

On hiatus last year, the Blessing returns to Hervey Bay’s Marina on Saturday, July 15 to coincide with the official launch of the Hervey Bay Whale season.

A family fun Marina Party, The Blessing event showcases Hervey Bay’s whale-watching fleet in the hub of Fraser Coast’s Marine Mecca.

Festival goers can enjoy a range of fun-filled activities suitable for all ages, from food stalls to live music, a live jet-pack performance, and concluding with the traditional procession of the Whale Fleet to celebrate the Humpback whales’ return.

“Fraser Coast Tourism and Events is pleased to bring the Blessing of the Fleet back to the Fraser Coast,” Ms Larner Simpson said.

“The centuries-old tradition is believed to have originated in Mediterranean fishing communities to ensure a safe and prosperous season for all vessels, and we certainly wish our local tourism operators a safe and prosperous year.”

Hear whale tales at Creating Waves

On Thursday, August 3, festival-goers can join us for a night of personal tales hosted by UniSC with the academic favourite Creating Waves event.

Meet local and international researchers and learn about recent Humpback whale discoveries as they migrate past our shores.

Traditional Butchulla owners explain the importance of the whales and how Whale Song lines connect First Nations along the entire east coast of Australia.

Learn how citizen scientists have contributed to the Happy Whale recognition system, which is now extending throughout oceans of the world, sending feedback about whales who have visited our shores.

FIND OUT WHEN AND WHERE TO SPOT HUMPBACK WHALES

Swing under the stars with The Rock n’ Roll Boys

On Friday, August 4 at Urangan’s Pier Park from 4pm to 8pm, FCTE introduces The Twilight Swing, a new addition to the festival this year.

An evening of dance and song with local headlining act The Rock n’ Roll Boys, guests are encouraged to come on down and enjoy the live music under the stars and perhaps try their feet at a quick swing dance.

Discover marine wonders at the City Park Discovery Pod

The Whale Festival’s main event, The Community Parade and Family Carnival, will be on Saturday, August 5 at two separate locations.

The City Park Discovery Pod will be held at City Park from 2pm to 5.30pm on the Saturday with live music, sports competitions, art activations, and educational activities.

Visitors can discover the wonders of the marine world by getting up close to ocean life through touch tanks, taking part in community competitions, and making their own lanterns in preparation for the Parade of Lights.

“The parade is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your creativity and contribute to a display of lanterns that will light up Main Street,” Ms Larner Simpson said.

The adjustment of the parade route from City Park to Seafront Oval, has increased the accessibility to participation in the parade for individuals and families.

The Parade of Lights will be led by local Butchulla people, who have been busy creating an illuminated display of marine life including Milbi (Turtle), Yulu (Dolphin), and Yuwangkan (Dugon).

This project has been supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Fraser Coast Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

Explore where sights and sounds come alive

From 5pm to 8.30pm, also on the Saturday, the Funtime Amusement Seafront Spectacular will be at Seafront Oval in Pialba. The community event showcases live music, family entertainment, and amusement rides, and ends with sponsored fireworks.

Paddle out for the humpback whales

On Sunday, August 6, FCTE is concluding the weekend by embracing the magic of Hervey Bay’s calm waters with the iconic Paddle Out for the Whales – an ocean gathering of paddleboards, kayaks, and surfboards followed by music and entertainment.

Participants observe a minute of silence to recognize the importance of the ocean and its marine life including our majestic Humpback whales to the world. It’s hoped, together, we can all make a positive impact to ensure whales continue to thrive for generations to come.

Get more information

For more information on the 2023 Hervey Bay Whale Festival follow @frasercoastevents on Facebook and Instagram and visit the website: https://herveybaywhalefestival.com.au/

The Hervey Bay Whale Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

 

KEY INFORMATION:

  • SATURDAY JULY 15 – Blessing of the Fleet, Hervey Bay Marina, Saturday, July 15, 4pm to 8pm.
  • THURSDAY AUGUST 3 – Creating Waves, UniSC Fraser Coast Campus, Main Lecture Hall (Building B), Thursday, August 3, 6pm to 8pm.
  • FRIDAY AUGUST 4 – The Twilight Swing, Pier Park in Urangan, Friday, August 4, 4pm to 8pm.
  • SATURDAY AUGUST 5 – City Park Discovery Pod, City Park, Saturday, August 5, 2pm to 5.30pm; Funtime Amusement Seafront Spectacular, Saturday, August 5, 5pm to 8.30pm.
  • SUNDAY AUGUST 6 – Paddle Out for Whales, Torquay Pier, Sunday, August 6, 10am to 1pm

 

The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Fraser Coast Regional Council.

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Published 17/6/2023
Story contributed by Fraser Coast Regional Council/Fraser Coast Tourism & Events; Photos – Shutterstock
Feature photo @ top: Aerial view of a Humpback Whale with her calf above her.

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