I'm a freelance writer who lives on the Bellarine Peninsula. I enjoy finding new things to see and do in the beautiful area that I live in.
It's always fantastic when an entire community gets involved in a festival that celebrates one of the key attractions of their town. In Barwon Heads, that attraction is the sea - one of the main focus points as you drive across the famous Barwon Heads Bridge into the township.
Now in it's twelfth year, the Festival of the Sea runs for a week, from the 13th March to the 18th March, although the first few days are mostly community events for school students and local groups.
On Saturday 17th March, the festival will begin to kick off properly, with plenty of activities for everyone. There will be a Tonik Skate competition held from 11am to 1pm at the skate bowl in Village Park, or you can snatch up a bargain at the Pony Club Car Boot Sale between 9am and 12.30pm. The Barwon Heads Art Group will have an exhibition on at the Senior Citizens Hall, you can attend a forum presented by a marine community group, or you can have dinner and listen to live music on the foreshore after 6pm.
If you can only get down to Barwon Heads for one day, then it's probably best to make sure that day is Sunday 18th March, the final, and possibly most entertaining, of all the days of the festival.
After the Festival Opening Ceremony, you will have the opportunity to listen to an abundance of live acts (many of which are local) from two main stages. Kids can have a go on the jumping castle, attempt yoga and dance classes, visit the animal farm, have their face painted, ride a pony, or take a mini train ride.
For everyone else, there will be a craft market, an environment expo, roving performers, camel rides, sustainability expos, art exhibitions and a broad range of food stalls. The Seachange Quilters of Barwon Heads will also have their quilting works on display for all to view, and you can enter a raffle to win a quality handmade quilt.
But we can't forget the most important part of Barwon Heads Festival of the Sea. In fact, it is what the event is most well known for- the annual Barwon Heads Duck Race!
The Duck Race is one of the best parts of the festival
People are invited to purchase a duck for $10 on the day (or from various shops in Barwon Heads beforehand), which can then be entered into the esteemed competition. At 4.30pm, the ducks will be released from the new pedestrian bridge, and the first duck to cross the line at Ozone Jetty will be declared the winner, scoring its owner a $2000 travel voucher prize. There will also be prizes awarded for the next sixteen ducks over the finish line, ranging in type and value, and including luxury accommodation, cash, a petrol voucher, a golfing package or a shopping spree.
So for only $10, you have the chance to win from a fantastic range of prizes- why wouldn't you enter?
The Festival of the Sea is a free community event (thanks to the sales of the ducks, as well as sponsorship from the City of Greater Geelong). The festival aims not only to celebrate our connections with the sea, but also highlights key environmental and sustainability issues. Perhaps most importantly of all, it's a great opportunity for a township (and its visitors) to unite and have a bit of fun.