After a brief hiatus thanks to WA’s snap lockdown in February, PHCC and partners celebrated World Wetlands Day in March with guided tours of the wetlands, the Dandjoo Gabi Wonga Sundowner and the WA Wetlands Management Conference.

PHCC hosted the Dandjoo Gabi Wonga sundowner (which means meeting place of the waterways story in Noongar) on 15th March at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, thanks to event sponsorship from The City of Mandurah. With inspiring speakers, live music, stunning banners depicting our wetlands as a Ramsar-listed wetland of international importance and food by the estuary, 126 people came together at the sundowner to share stories and celebrate our Ramsar 482 wetlands.

The highlight of the evening was a series of inspiring ‘soapbox’ talks from champions working in and for the wetlands. Kicked off by MC Steve Fisher, PHCC’s Chairperson Caroline Knight, City of Mandurah’s Neil Carroll and Peel Development Commission’s Paddi Creevey, attendees heard stories about the deep personal and professional connections that many people have with our waterways, and their drive to care for them.

We heard from local businesses like ecotourism providers Ways to Nature and Salt & Bush Eco Tours who are working to share their passion for wetlands and nature with locals and visitors alike, and from Visit Mandurah about the importance of the estuary in attracting visitors to our region through Mandurah’s ‘Relaxed by Nature’ tourism brand. Researchers like Matt Hipsey from UWA and Alan Cottingham from Murdoch spoke about the latest research in the ecological processes and threats to our estuary, including concerns for the impact of a drying climate on our estuary. High school students from John Tonkin College spoke about their work with Murdoch University in supporting a black bream enhancement project. We also heard from Swanlandia Inc about their aims to engage young people in nature education and from Peel Bright Minds about the opportunities presented by science, technology, engineering and maths and future careers to help protect our wetlands.

Local champions like representatives of Lake Clifton Herron Landcare Group and Mandurah Environment and Heritage Group spoke about their long-standing commitment and efforts to care for their local patch, and their ongoing need to have younger generations take up the cause. We heard a call to action to contribute to addressing litter in our waterways from Tackleworld Miami’s Ash Ramm and Coastal Waste Warriors’ Kirstin Field. We learned about citizen science initiatives that people can get involved with like the National Shorebird Monitoring Program from BirdLife WA representative Vicki Stokes.

The sundowner was linked to The WA Wetlands Management Conference, delivered by The Wetlands Centre Cockburn and of which PHCC was a major sponsor this year through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. PHCC supported The Wetlands Centre’s pre-conference tours on Monday 15 March where Rick James joined Mandjoogoordap Dreaming’s George Walley and DBCA’s Mike Venarsky to provide two tours of the Lake Clifton Thrombolites, while Steve Fisher joined BirdLife’s Vicki Stokes aboard Mandurah Cruises vessels for two guided estuary tours including nature walks with Sarah from Ways to Nature.

During the main conference day on 16 March PHCC team members gave four presentations showcasing our work to protect and restore the Ramsar 482 wetlands, and had the opportunity to learn from peers in wetlands conservation from around WA. PHCC also provided sponsorship to community members to attend the conference. 

Keep an eye on PHCC’s Facebook page to see photos and videos from the sundowner and conference soon. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for future Wetlands Conferences, contact The Wetlands Centre at [email protected]

The Dandjoo Gabi Wonga sundowner was delivered by PHCC through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the City of Mandurah. The WA Wetlands Management Conference and pre-conference tours were delivered by The Wetlands Centre Cockburn with support from PHCC through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present