Heritage Festival

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Behind every door, in every photograph and even under the ground beneath our feet, there is an amazing story to be told.

Hastings residents are invited on a journey into the past during April, when Port Macquarie-Hastings Council hosts its sixth annual Heritage Festival. In a program packed full of events, the region will celebrate the amazing stories of local landmarks and people, historical collections and its significant sites.

The theme for this year’s Festival, from 2 – 17 April 2011, is ‘Amazing Stories’, which is designed to bring to life the area’s history.

The 2011 Port Macquarie-Hastings Heritage Festival will be officially launched on Saturday 2 April at St Thomas’ Anglican Church, Port Macquarie. The event will celebrate ‘Our Church: From Convict Days To Independence’ and for a gold coin donation, visitors will have the opportunity to take a journey through the church’s past.

The event commences at 9.30am, and throughout the day there will be light refreshments and stalls, as well as a tableau ‘A Sunday Morning on Church Hills – 1830’ at 10.30am, followed by a 1622 prayer book service in the chapel from noon and convict cellar tours through until 4pm.

Major events include a host of walking tours from Kundabung to Trial Bay Gaol, Camden Head Pilot Station, the Innes Ruins and around Port Macquarie’s CBD and historic cemetery.

The ‘Port by Night’ historical night walking tours are for those who like to explore under the cover of darkness. The tours will take in historical and haunted sites, with commentary of the untold and unusual stories of Port Macquarie’s past.

Walks will also lead you to the region’s spectacular coastline. The ‘Sand, Shipwreck and Signals’ walking tour will uncover the secrets of our coastal heritage from the Town Green to Flagstaff Hill and the former Pilot’s cottages.

‘The Story of the Convict Lime Kilns’ tour at Kundabung will provide an opportunity to view some of the earliest intact lime kilns still existing in Australia. On this walk, listen to the fascinating story of how lime was obtained, processed and transported.

There are activities for all ages at the Glasshouse during the Heritage Festival. Children can become ‘History Hunters’, create their own hunting hat and follow the clues to learn more about the amazing stories of Port Macquarie; participate in drama workshops or have fun with fossils by learning about what they are and how they are uncovered.

The region’s cultural heritage and the traditional country of the Birpai people has a fascinating past since the days of 1821, when it was founded by the British as a penal settlement.

Between 1910 and 1920, Thomas Dick, a local oyster culturalist and ethnographer, captured photographic images of local Aborigines re-enacting pre-colonial life in and around the Hastings. The ‘Birpai – The Thomas Dick Walkabout’ tour, led by a descendant of some of his subjects, will trace the footsteps of Thomas Dick and the Birpai families, before culminating at the sacred Dooragan (North Brother) mountain.

For stargazers, the Port Macquarie Observatory will turn interest to the night sky throughout the Festival, with spectacular images of astrological objects including the moon and Mars and the opportunity for visitors to look through a GPS guided telescope mounted in the dome.

“The Heritage Festival is a wonderful opportunity to feel and experience our heritage first hand through a wide variety of tours, displays, performances and demonstrations,” Director of Cultural and Community Development, Lesley Atkinson said.

“This year is an opportunity for people to share their own amazing stories, connect with our fascinating past and take a walk back in time to those foundation days from which our wonderful region has been built.”

Heritage Festival programs can be obtained from all Council offices and libraries in Port Macquarie, Laurieton and Wauchope, the Glasshouse or by visiting the website:           heritagefestival.com.au

Images with thanks to Port Macquarie Historical Society and Museum.

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