Straddie offers a whale of a weekend

If you haven’t made it to North Stradbroke Island to experience the world-class whale-watching, the last weekend in July is the perfect time to take the trip across the water.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said a host of Yura Yalingbila (welcome the whales) activities would be on offer from 29 – 31 July as part of the 2017 Quandamooka Festival.

“The humpback whales, known as Yalingbila in local Jandai dialect, are now being seen in large numbers each day as they continue on their annual 5000km migration from Antarctica,” Cr Williams said.

“It’s estimated that around 17,000 whales will make the journey up the eastern coast of Australia and numbers are growing.

“It’s not unusual to see humpbacks and their young passing very close past Point Lookout headland, easily visible without the need for binoculars – with dolphins, turtles and rays often nearby.

“To celebrate this marvel of nature, Quandamooka Festival organisers have created a weekend of activities showcasing their cultural connections to these magnificent creatures.”

Quandamooka Festival Curator Avril Quaill said Yura Yalingbila activities ranged from family events to exquisite dining experiences.

“On Saturday 29 July, both ends of the Gorge Walk trail have special events,” Ms Quaill said.

“First we have our free Yura Yalingbila community day with traditional dance, arts, weaving, workshops, stall, kids activities, good food, sand art and cultural talks.

“There’ll be live music by special guest artist co-writer/composer of Australia’s popular song “My Island Home” Neil Murray, along with local female duo Blacksalt.

“People can also book in to a whale watching cultural talk with Quandamooka man Matthew Burns and at the northern end of the trail we also have a ‘one-day-only’ pop-up café on the headland overlooking the passing yalingbila.

“Open from 7am to 4pm, this café will have great food, only surpassed by its views.

“The pop-up Café will then be transformed for our inaugural Gala offering a three-course bush-tucker inspired dinner, complementing wines, Aboriginal dance performance and string quartet entertainment.

“And if that’s not enough, on Monday 31 July is the Marine Mammal Forum at the Moreton Bay Marine Station in Goompi/Dunwich, convened by University of Queensland.

“We hope to see many people on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) enjoy all that’s on offer.”

Divisional Councillor for North Stradbroke Island Peter Mitchell said the island was spoilt for choice in its whale watching locations.

“A trip around the Point Lookout Gorge Walk boasts several vantage points to see the humpbacks, but you can also see them from many of the beaches – often multiple pods at once,” Cr Mitchell said.

“Council is proud to support the Quandamooka Festival and it will be wonderful to see people coming together to see the whales and celebrate the island’s rich Aboriginal history and culture.”