Esperance Wildflower Festival
BY DOROTHY HENDERSON, WESTERN AUSTRALIA-BASED MEDIA STRINGER
For five days in September the coastal town of Esperance, in Western Australia’s south east, blossomed with activities that celebrated the region’s natural bounty.
The annual Esperance Wildflower Festival is not new to the calendar, but this year’s festival was given a boost with the involvement of other community groups and organisations.
Esperance Community Arts executive officer Jane Mulcock said that this year’s festival, which started on 24 September and ended on the 28 September, celebrated the diversity of native flora in the region, and the theme of “Bugs and Bush” allowed plenty of scope for imaginations to run wild.
Dr Mulcock said that an organising committee consisting of representatives from the Esperance Wildflower Society, Esperance Community Arts and the Anglican Parish had taken responsibility for planning and coordinating the Festival.
“This year saw some significant changes and new partnerships including with Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation,” she said.
“The Parish has continued to provide catering services and a venue, the Wildflower Society has managed botanical aspects including the collection, identification and display of plant specimens, and Esperance Community Arts has extended the scope of the Festival by sourcing funding for a range of arts projects and marketing initiatives.”
Visitors to the Anglican Parish hall were met by a giant bardi grub, nestled between some equally large wattle and banksia leaves and blossoms, part of the MegaFLORA sculpture project. On entering the hall the row and rows of meticulously arranged and labelled wildflower specimens indicated that the science of botany was as much at the forefront of this festival as the expression of art allowed by the flora and fauna form.
However, the festival was far from a serious affair, and local artist Jeane Aitchison was spotted hovering around a nest of blue-banded bees wearing a costume that indicated she was in fact the Queen Bee.
A street parade with Dance Devotion students and the Esperance Brass Band also helped to ensure the festival was fun. The Act-Belong-Commit Kaddatji Nyungar Boodja Plants and Culture sessions delivered to school groups by the Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (ETNTAC) Rangers in partnership with the Esperance Wildflower Society made the event one that delivered in terms of education as well.
Visiting botanist Dr Neville Marchant explored the role of bugs and other bush animals in the evolution of wildflowers during an evening presentation, and there was a supply of tea, coffee and food provided by the Anglican Parish in the form of the Wildflower Festival Café,
There were soap making workshops, run by Jen Morcombe of Fairymeade Soaps, displays presented by environmental groups and insect inspired artworks overflowed into the Anglican Church. The walls of the building dedicated to prayer and praise were transformed into art filled spaces, with the brilliance and intensity of art created by local schoolchildren serving to transform the church into a cathedral of colour.
Art and writing competitions added to the colour and creative buzz of the festival and ensured that people took part and shared their creations inspired by thoughts of bees and blossoms, or bugs and the bush.