11 November 2017
THE UPWELLING FESTIVAL PORTLANDby MATT CHARLESWORTH
The community of Portland made a “call to the sea” to officially open the Bonney Upwelling season. I hadn’t the slightest idea what an “upwelling” was but the trumpets and chanting indicated it was a pretty big deal. Market stalls, food trucks, jumping castles and a music stage filled the foreshore. There was atmosphere, there was sunshine and I was intrigued.
A few familiar businesses were trading in the markets. Prickly Moses with their prized Otway beer and among many others was the sign-up tent for the 3 Bays Marathon; an opportunity for last-minute entries for the Sunday morning race. Regrettably, I passed on the marathon due to an injury but didn’t miss the chance to discover sailing and take a bus tour of the port. Wallet at the ready, I questioned “how much”, but was pushed back. I soon realised this Upwelling festival is great value. Free entry and plenty included, you beauty!
Bob, an older gentlemen welcomed me onto his sail boat. Slowly drifting out of the port, we raised the sails and pointed the bow towards the open ocean. I pinched myself for a second, just to make sure it was all real. Without expecting anything in return, Portland Yacht Club members took to the seas with anyone who showed interest, just to share their passion for sailing. You don’t find that sort of generosity anywhere. To me, that says a lot about the locals. A good “puff” and we were flying along.
A little later in the day, I sat in on an eco-tourism conversation in the angling club to learn about the upwelling. Spring winds create a natural aquatic phenomenon; cold, nutrient rich water is “upwelled” to the surface where the sun-light takes effect, creating multitudes of food for marine life. A feeding frenzy is sparked; dolphins, fur seals, little penguins, albatrosses, sharks and even the blue whale get involved. At up to 30m long, the blue whale is the largest known animal to have ever existed. From Cape Nelson towards the South-Australian coast, sightings are most common in November/December at the start of the Upwelling season. It seems the Whales love the Great Ocean Road as much as I do. On the busiest day this Winter, 12 southern right whales could be spotted from Logans Beach in Warrnambool. It’s good news thus far, I spotted a blue whale near the port… unfortunately it was beached on the grass and full of air, but let’s use our imagination.
The warm afternoon was topped off lying back on the foreshore listening to live music. I loved the carnival atmosphere of the place. Hours well spent meandering through the markets, exploring the kids zone and enjoying the entertainment. It’s a treasure in itself celebrating the Bonney Upwelling, an environment conscious town powered by passion and generosity.