Few things in life are more precious than family time but this isn’t the only treasure the Great Barrier Reef Festival celebrates. This Sunday’s Whitsunday Transit Family Fun Day encourages children to take part in an environmental treasure hunt, winning prizes and knowledge along the way. Participants need to visit the various stalls in Fairy Tree Park and complete an environmentally-focused activity to receive a stamp. When all the stamps are finally collected the treasure hunt competition is drawn. The ultimate prize is a trip to the Great Barrier Reef with Cruise Whitsundays for a family of four.
Surrounding this activity are roving circus performers, face painters, and two drum beat workshops. Sack races, three-legged races, egg-and-spoon races, and a Reef Festival Relay take families back to the good old days of wholesome, outdoor fun. A jumping castle and PCYC gym equipment will keep even the most energetic children satisfied, and there’s even a donut eating competition for those who need a sugar fix.
Organiser Ellen Kerr, who started the event 10 years ago with her daughter Bek, says to see families enjoying themselves so much sometimes brings a tear to her eye.
“It’s one of my favourite events because it’s so accessible – where else can people go and spend hardly any money for four whole hours but have a family day out at the same time,” she said.
Whitsunday Transit Operations Manager, Chris Harvey, said for a company transporting almost 1,500 students on Whitsunday school bus runs every day, sponsoring the Family Fun Day was an opportunity to thank families for their patronage.
“Whitsunday Transit is a very community-minded company and we’re keen to see the Great Barrier Reef Festival prosper,” he said. “This festival has been running for many years so it’s an honour to be part of that.”
Festival chairwoman Margie Murphy said as well as seeing children inadvertently learning about the reef while having fun, she was excited by this year’s additional arts elements to the Family Fun Day.
“In the lead-up to the festival we ran workshops at the Coral Sea Marina with Mackay upcycling artist David Day, and through those workshops we created community art,” she explained.
“The ‘fish’ we made from heat-shrinking recycled bottles with nearly 100 people involved, will now come together as a ‘school’ of fish in an installation on the foreshore. “The final result represents the need for waste reduction and is something we’re going to build on into the future.”
David Day will be on hand during the event to also help people write an ode to the ocean and create messages in a bottle, using the same artistic technique.
“The meaning behind this is to shrink our uses of single-use plastics currently finding their way into our waterways and oceans, causing stress to sea creatures and entering our food chain,” he said. “It’s up to everybody individually to be more responsible about the way we deal with plastic products and waste, so we protect our environment for future generations to come.”
The Whitsunday Transit Family Fun Day takes place from 10am-2pm, with the Reef Gateway Hotel Recyclable Regatta also kicking off from the main Airlie Beach at 1pm. Both events are followed by Chill in the Park, featuring Mackay duo Swoon and Electrik Lemonade, as well as an After Party, featuring Mango Junction, at the Airlie Beach Hotel’s ‘The Pub’.
These events mark the end of the 2019 Great Barrier Reef Festival, proudly supported by Cruise Whitsundays.