Part of the crowd at the 2011 Saltwater Freshwater Festival at Port Macquarie.
Part of the crowd at the 2011 Saltwater Freshwater Festival at Port Macquarie.

Saltwater Freshwater wins award

TROY Cassar Daley said he wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Neil Murray said it had made Australia Day meaningful again.

The remarks by the two headline entertainers are just the latest in the series of accolades being heaped on the Saltwater Freshwater Festival, which attracted an estimated 10,000 people to Port Macquarie’s Westport Park on Australia Day in its second year.

The inaugural Festival, held in Coffs Harbour in 2010, won the Community Event of the Year award at the Coffs Harbour Australia Day Awards.

Festival organisers were unable to attend the presentation because of this year’s event but a message from the chairwoman of the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance, Jo-Anne Murray, was read to the crowd by MC Ian Cameron.

In it Ms Murray thanked the people of Coffs Harbour for their support, saying it reflected a community which embraces Aboriginal culture and traditions.

The biggest celebration of the Mid North Coast’s Aboriginal culture ever held, the inaugural Festival attracted about 12,000 people to the Botanic Garden, the biggest crowd the Garden had ever seen.

Festival director Alison Page said yesterday this year’s event showed the Saltwater Freshwater Festival was just as successful in Birpai country as it was in Gumbaynggir country.

“The difference this year from last was we actually catered for 10,000 people with the infrastructure and the number of ambassadors and volunteers – we had 80 volunteers, some of whom caught buses from Coffs Harbour and some came from the local community,’ she said.

“Country Energy paid for some buses from Coffs Harbour and we want that sort of thing to grow.”

Also new this year is Festival producer and former Jetty Theatre manager, Sharna St Leon.

Ms Page said Ms St Leon was part of the team that launched the Dreaming Festival and her extremely valuable input had allowed ‘a little volunteer organisation’ to put on slick cultural events and a visually beautiful event as well as introduce new practices like recycling.



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