The Sustainability Festival at The Abbey, Raymond Island by Edie Ashley

Inside The Abbey at the Festival
Inside The Abbey at the Festival

Perfect weather greeted us for our Sustainability Festival. The Abbey is an initiative of The Anglican Church in Gippsland –an expression of its commitment to care for the environment and a recognition of the important connection between environment, spirituality and personal wellbeing. The Abbey facilities currently include the A Frame building, with its large dining/meeting area and its commercial kitchen, eight newly rebuilt motel units, one three bedroom cottage, four and eight bed dorms, conference room, and chapel. The Abbey is for all people.  Individuals and groups are invited to book The Abbey for meetings, community gatherings, weekend conferences or family celebrations.

The Sustainability Festival is one of the activities of The Abbey Program – a series of occasional retreats, events, gatherings or festivals. The Festival brought together practitioners and interested people, families and older people – from the local area and further afield. It was a time of meeting and exchanging ideas, of finding resources that match a need or of offering expertise for a particular situation. It was a time of learning, encouragement and festivities.

Opening the day, Scott Power spoke on the science of climate change to a crowded room of interested people. He pointed out that while all models show an increase in average global temperature climate over the next few years, some show greater increase than others and unless we act now to reduce emissions, the rate of change may increase exponentially into the future – and the children of today and their children will be left to carry the cost.

While Scott was speaking, children and some parents were exploring the lakes edge with Erin from Bugblitz. They enjoyed finding the little creatures in the water, catching and counting them, checking them under the microscope, and just getting their feet wet!

The day went quickly with Paul Harvey from the Landcare Network and Rob Wright from the Raymond Island group showing eager participants the amazing regen work that has been accomplished by Landcare on Raymond Island.  Ian Southall from Ecohub Alternate Energy shared information and conversation on Community Energy, and Andy Booth from Gippsland Plains Conservation Management Network highlighted the importance of habitat for birdlife in the local area. Not just talk, Andy demonstrated his skill at climbing and installing bird boxes as he scaled one of the beautiful red gums at The Abbey.  And as if on cue, the koala and its baby that had been resting in the tree relocated itself to explore the recently installed bird box.

There were stalls, and information booths, the CFA was there with their trucks to delight children and interested adults, there was the pedal bike milkshake maker, face painting and kid’s corner, East Gippsland Shire Council’s waste management information table, Landcare video and colouring, recycled clothes, home crafted beeswax products, books and cards, plants and raffles…. and wonderful food in the ‘pop-up cafe’ – thanks Ian and the volunteers from St Peter’s by the Lake.  ‘Thanks to everyone who came to The Abbey Festival, to those who participated on stalls and especially to those who shared their knowledge and expertise. Thanks to East Gippsland Shire Council who sponsored the Festival and for donations from Narkoojee and Feast on East. It was a great day!’