Long time WCA partners Wendy van Gool (Belgium) and Sharyn Taylor (Australia) finally had the opportunity to meet for the first time last month in Australia’s Whale Watching mecca, Hervey Bay on Queensland’s Fraser Coast.
Hervey Bay, renowned as one of the few places in the world where migrating humpback whales stop to rest, play, feed and give birth is also the destination for the World Cetacean Alliances’ 5th World Whale Conference and 3rd Whale Heritage Sites Summit to be held in October 2019.
Wendy and her husband Marc travelled to the East coast of Australia for a personal holiday and to meet up with relatives and friends. Their trip included visits to Melbourne, Sydney and a 4 day live-aboard dive trip on the stunning Great Barrier Reef off Cairns. After coordinating last year’s conference in Durban, Wendy, once again taking a lead role, grabbed the opportunity to schedule a site visit to the 2019 Conference host town, Hervey Bay.
Sharyn, who assisted Wendy in organising the Durban conference and knows Hervey Bay (and the Aussie lingo) well, thought it would be a fantastic chance to join Wendy and together check out all that Hervey Bay has to offer the WCA Conference and Summit.
“We had an extensive round table meeting with core members of the Fraser Coast Tourism and Events (FCTE) conference coordinating team” said Wendy. Logistics, roles, responsibilities, ticketing, sponsorship and venue suitability were just a few of the many topics covered during the 3+ hour long session.
Sharyn, Wendy and Marc spent a second day with Christine McLiver, marketing manager at FCTE, visiting 4 potential conference facilities, accommodation and restaurant offerings as well as options for social and community focused events and activities to be held during the week long event next year.“It was a super busy couple of days and we achieved so much, but thankfully we also found a few hours to relax” said Sharyn. “We booked ourselves on a whale watch tour with Hervey Bay Dive Centre who provided participants an environment-focused excursion, instilling respect for the animals and an understanding of the companies ‘on the whales terms’ ethos.”
“Despite the windy weather and the whales being very quiet, it was still lovely to get out on the water, chat to Captain Ed and his crew about the upcoming conference, whilst relaxing with Wendy and Marc.”
Off the water, the group also met up with former Melbourne advocate (now Hervey Bay resident) Liz Carter of Blue Cove Days Everyday Forever who’s viral video of a dolphin calf being taken from its mother in a Taiji drive hunt in 2017, has now had a staggering 80 million views worldwide. After Sharyn had returned home, Wendy and Marc headed out into the bay once more, this time with The Pacific Whale Foundation who are currently undertaking a study to assess the impact of immersive whale watching (or swim-with-whales tourism) on humpback whales in Hervey Bay. “It was an exceptionally educational and research based excursion and we were so lucky to not only see the Humpies on this excursion, but were also blessed to encounter a Southern Right Whale and her calf” said Wendy.
Hervey Bay and the Wide Bay region has so much to offer delegates to next years conference. The nearby historical town of Maryborough, World Heritage listed Fraser Island and the coral cay Lady Elliot Island, situated on the Southern Great Barrier Reef are just a few of the iconic places to see whilst attending the conference“We were thrilled at the level of awareness and local enthusiasm for the upcoming conference already building in Hervey Bay and it’s really exciting to be going back ‘down under’ to take advantage of the many excursions the area has to offer. Together with Fraser Coast Tourism and Events the WCA is confident that the World Whale Conference and Whale Heritage Sites Summit 2019 is certainly going to be a journey that inspires.”
The 5th World Whale Conference and 3rd Whale Heritage Sites Summit, hosted by Fraser Coast Tourism and Events will be held in Hervey Bay Queensland Australia and is scheduled for 7th-11th October 2019.
Journeys that inspire change
Inspired by the incredible journeys undertaken by the humpback whales that pass through Hervey Bay on their annual migration between feeding and breeding grounds, the 2019 World Whale Conference will focus on:
- Understanding whale migrations and their significance for marine conservation
- Promoting sustainable whale and dolphin tourism for tourists and local communities
- Exploring our cultural and artistic connections with migrating whales
- Maximising the power of ceteceans to inspire positive human behaviour change to protect our oceans.
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