I drove through heavy rain all the way from Perth to Charles Darwin Reserve two days before 'Blues for the Bush Open Day and Concert' was due to occur. I have to admit I was worried. It was cold and wet.
As I headed into the volunteer quarters at Charles Darwin Reserve spirits were high. The place was buzzing with creative crew working with the seriously amazing Creative Director Theaker von Ziarno and Bush Heritage's fabulous crew of hard working volunteers lead by the enthusiastic Reserve Manager Fiona Stewart.
It's an extraordinary thing to watch a large outdoor festival come together – there's a lot to be done. Despite the huge workload and the short amount of time, Theaker urged the volunteers to remain inspired and happy, not to rush. She reminded everyone that they were a part of something very special. She was right.
At the Friday morning planning meeting Luke Bayley, Executive Manager for the West, told the volunteers and staff, "Theaker's creative work celebrates our work at Bush Heritage. It brings people to Bush Heritage. It's important to remember why we're here and enjoy it. Trust each other, don't panic - It will happen!".
The day of the event was spectacular! It was miraculously warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. At our early morning meeting Reserve Manager Fiona Stewart reminded everyone, "Many people coming today will have never been to Charles Darwin Reserve or the midwest. It's the beginning of a relationship for them with Bush Heritage and with this beautiful place, Charles Darwin Reserve".
The event went off seamlessly, much to the credit of all the volunteers and staff who were involved in the set up and running. It was the largest Blues for the Bush to-date. Luke Bayley reported, "We had about 1,400 people share the delights of Charles Darwin Reserve over the weekend, learning about the conservation effort, celebrating our work and contributing to a brighter future for regional Australia".
The Open Day had a great range of activities with a conservation emphasis, showcasing Charles Darwin Reserve's natural assets and the mid-west. The Gundawa Talk Tent had inspiring talks and posters on the challenges involved in managing landscapes for the future. There were activities for kids, workshops, delicious food and art everywhere you looked.
During the Open Day the ecology team, lead by Regional Ecologist Vanessa Westcott, ran 10 ecology tours. Demand and interest was so high that the team ran four further tours the following day. If time (and buses) permitted we could have run many more. The interest was phenomenal. And why not? It's a beautiful reserve and after a great season of rain the property is looking amazing – the wildflowers were putting on a once-in-10-year show.
The concert itself was a night of fabulous music, thrilling circus acts and a lot of fun. A highlight for me was the awe in my sons eyes as he watched the amazing Theaker on the trapeze ("But that's not possible," he kept telling me). As I danced through the crowd with my children, following the luminescent fairies, I was struck with how happy everyone was – there was such a joyful vibe.
This was re-iterated the next day as we directed traffic out of Charles Darwin. We were thanked for our efforts and told repeatedly what an amazing time had been had.
Thanks to our wonderful volunteer community for putting in a superb effort. Thanks especially to: Jacqui Coupe, Ian Haverley, Evs Pettigrew, Wendy Corrick, Geoff Corrick, Tony James, Glen James, Rosemary Harper, Len Warren, Valerie Warren, Charlie Nicholson, Jan Rodda, Ernie Skippings, Tracy Skippings, David Leeson, Dot Leeson, Steve Greig, Sam Hilliard, Jerzy Lapinski, Tina Schroeder, Jan Rasborsek, Chris Rasborsek, Nic Dunlop, Sam Bayley and Heidi Nore.
Thanks also to all the Bush Heritage staff who worked so hard to make it happen including: Fiona Stewart, Luke Bayley, Vanessa Westcott, Ben Parkhurst (Reserve's Ecologist), Sabine Reiser (Philanthropy Executive), Erica Sousaari (Research Fellow) and Gerard O'Neil (Bush Heritage CEO).