Have you ever stopped, realised and appreciated about the diverse and unique marine environment that’s right under our noses here in Victoria? Well, say hello to the brand-new festival that aims to do just that.
The Day By The Bay festival – which celebrates Port Phillip Bay and its importance to the identity and culture of communities that live around it – will head to Point Cook Coastal Park on 23 March this year, after its first event at Mornington Park last month.
With nearly five million people living around it, Port Phillip Bay is Australia’s densest catchment. It has a unique cultural heritage, boasts amazing biodiversity, offers countless opportunities for adventure, and enhances local liveability.
With nature at the heart of this festival, it only makes sense that beloved Melbourne band The Orbweavers have joined the lineup alongside Mojo Juju, Leah Senior, HEXDEBT, Way Dynamic and Jess Ribeiro for a day of celebration.
Formed in 2006 by Marita Dyson and her partner Stuart Flanagan, The Orbweavers first burst onto the local scene with their debut record Graphite & Diamonds, its remarkable single ‘Diving Bell’ still casting a haunting spell over the listener to this day. Since then, their music has surrounded themes of waterways and industrial history, with Port Phillip Bay, in particular, influencing their recent music.
“We didn’t notice that so much at the start, but then the further we went along, the more we realized that a lot of our songs were about water and about the natural environment and the impacts of settlement and industrialisation on, particularly on waterways,” Marita explains. “We’ve been interested in the bay environment for quite a long time and we’ve been visiting Point Cooke Marine Sanctuary to look at the amazing birds and plant life that is around there.”
Granted with a 2016 Creative Fellowship from the State Library of Victoria, the couple began researching waterways in the west of Melbourne (and in particular Port Phillip Bay), and the lives of the people who lived and worked along their banks in the 19th and 20th centuries to then write and record a suite of songs inspired by their research.
It makes being involved in the festival even more special for the musicians with shared vision of raising awareness of the unique Port Phillip Bay environment, and the biodiversity that exists in the bay and how precious and unique that environment is.
“It’s something that I’ve only learned about in the last five years as well,” Marita explains of this area in particular. “Snorkelling in the bay is perhaps something that a lot of people don’t realise they can do; particularly in the marine parks in the west side of the bay. I grew up in Yarraville and I didn’t know any of this when I was growing up; I didn’t know there was a beautiful marine park basically on my doorstep.”
As regular visitors to the Bay, Marita explains that visitors (and festival-goers) can enjoy the sights of some of the amazing animals found in and around the bay including seahorses, an array of skates (rays and stingrays), black swans, pelicans, spoonbills, and migratory shorebirds such as the Eastern Curlew, and Sandpipers by way of swimming, surfing, snorkelling, fishing and sailing.
“When we went there, we were just amazed that the natural beauty of the area, especially the migratory birds, and we learned how it’s protected as an internationally recognised wetland area. It just led to us to keep going back, to have a look at this beautiful environment that was right on our doorstep, and this festival gives others the chance to appreciate it too.”
Day By The Bay is free to attend, family friendly and alcohol-free, featuring food vendors, community stallholders and activities for all ages.
Feature photo by Tim Brown, Remember The Wild.