By Luke Voogt
For the first time in 50 years the ANGAIR Wildflower and Art Weekend has been cancelled amid COVID-19 restrictions.
But organisers have refused to let the half-century go unmarked, creating an online version that will go live next Monday.
ANGAIR, a local conservation group, was “reluctant to let spring go by” without celebrating the milestone, according to committee member Sally White.
“Some of our members have developed a digital ANGAIR Nature Show,” she said.
“Come September 7, we will have a new and quite different version of the Wildflower and Art Weekend.”
ANGAIR, which formed a year before its flagship event, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
“We had planned two 50th birthdays –one after the other – we don’t do things by halves,” White said.
“[This year’s cancellation] was a disappointment but you’ve just got to role with the punches.
“This gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, so it’s a bit of a silver lining.”
And Surf Coast locals can still explore their own beautiful seaside backyard by taking self-guided walks along back roads recommended by ANGAIR specialists.
The walks are part of the ‘explore’ section of the website, which covers four other themes: wonder, learn, create and play.
Under these sections, viewers can play nature-themed games and get in-depth insights into local wildlife.
The website features the event’s yearly photo competition, now open to snappers outside the Surf Coast, and art from Anglesea Primary School students.
Local illustrators Ruth Hurst and Kaye Traynor will also showcase their art on the site in their retrospective, Drawn to Nature.
“I’m looking to seeing how it all comes together, as this year is very different to how it has been presented in the past,” Traynor said.
“I know there’s been a whole lot of work been put into it and it’s a whole new concept, because of the circumstances.”
After moving to Anglesea 28 years ago, Traynor has dedicated much of her time to portraying local wildlife in pencil and paint.
“Anything that moves or doesn’t move – it doesn’t matter,” she said.
“Usually I take a photo before painting or drawing – especially with fauna, you’re not afforded the luxury of them staying in place.
“I just love going out and observing things that grow.”
A Surf Coast Shire grant helped the show to go digital, according to ANGAIR secretary Peter Forster.
“At one point we thought that it was all over,” he said.
“The grant has allowed us to build a new website capable of hosting webinars, storing photos, providing activities, sharing YouTube videos and running this year’s event.
“We obviously didn’t plan for a pandemic but this is a pretty important anniversary for us, and it means a lot that we’re still able to celebrate it virtually.”
The website goes live next Monday at angairnatureshow.org.au