Discover the Banjo Ray at Swan Bay

Over the past few weeks we have been taking a closer look at the Artists, District Coordinators and locations involved in the Mountain to Mouth journey. With Mountain to Mouth 2016 just under 2 weeks away, there is no better time to register and begin engaging with the different aspects of the event.

THE BACKGROUND: Six District Coordinators organise the twelve Songline Stations across the 80km walk in the Geelong and Queenscliffe regions. Each Station features a walking circle punctuated by an installation, which range from a mixture of audio, interactive, visual and performance arts that interact with and reflect the diverse environments they are set in. Each of the walking circles express the unique nature of its locality and community, playing a significant role in transforming the walk into a journey that encourages its participants to discover extreme arts and the surrounding environment.

SONGLINE STATION 9: SWAN BAY - MARINE AND FRESHWATER DISCOVERY CENTRE. Leanne Stein is the District Coordinator for Songline Stations 9 and 10. She is an Arts Officer with Borough of Queenscliffe, putting her in an ideal position to oversee Songline Stations located in the Borough. She has experience in supporting an environment in which arts activities can flourish as well as having the necessary community ties for these activities to have a meaningful impact and reach.

Swan Bay is a wetlands site of international significance, providing a magical ecosystem for a myriad of animal and plant species. It is renowned for its diversity of migratory birds, with as many as 200 species seen in the area, some of which are endangered. Each year, as many as 10, 000 migratory wading birds descend on the waterway, some of which migrate from as far away as Alaska and Siberia - a round trip of over 24,000 km (Makes the 80km walk sound like nothing!). 

 Discovering wildlife at Swan Bay

Discovering wildlife at Swan Bay

It is for these reasons that Swan Bay is protected under the Ramsar agreement. The treaty was negotiated through the sixties and came into force in 1975 as a response to global concerns about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitats for migratory waterbirds. Wetlands are vital for human survival, being among the world's most productive environments as a cradle of biological diversity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. Wetlands also play a key role in the carbon cycle, holding twice as much carbon as the world's rainforests and stemming the negative effects of climate change.

 Banjo Ray installation, first concept

Banjo Ray installation, first concept

"Banjo Ray", the walking circle at this site, depicts another iconic resident of Swan Bay through a large, temporary basalt installation. Banjo Rays are one of the largest species of stingrays in Australia and live amongst the seagrass beds in this beautiful and unique habitat. This depiction tells one of the many stories that make Swan Bay a place of such importance. Artist Glenn Romanis is a renowned arts practitioner with a history of over 150 large scale public and community arts projects. He seeks to tell stories that inform about the natural and cultural histories attributed to a place in order to foster respect and understanding for the land. 

 Wooden Echidna sculptures at Jan Juc Park by Glenn Romanis

Wooden Echidna sculptures at Jan Juc Park by Glenn Romanis

Walkers travelling from the previous Songline Station at Drysdale Station are given the exciting option to take an iconic train hauled by a historic locomotive between Drysdale and Queenscliff as part of a partnership between Bellarine Railway and Mountain to Mouth. The train line was built in 1879 and offers outstanding views of Swan Bay, the entrance of Port Phillip Bay, olive groves and vineyards, winding through thickets of ancient moonah as it descends towards Queenscliffe. After travelling through the remnant bush land of the Bellarine Peninsula, participants arrive at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre half an hour before the "Banjo Ray" walking circle opens. The Centre features aquariums and touch tanks where visitors can get closer to animals like starfish and crabs, as well as boardwalks with more stunning views of the area that walkers can enjoy before the Songline Station opens at 12:30pm. 

 The Touch Tank at The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre

The Touch Tank at The Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre

The Bellarine Railway is a integral part of Queenscliff's local history, and offers a significant contribution to the combination of arts, culture and community that Mountain to Mouth  2016 represents. Tickets for the train journey are $20 (adults), $15 (seniors, children), and $40 (family, 2 adults, up to 3 children) and can be purchased directly from the Bellarine Railway.

The train departs Drysdale Station at 11:20am and arrives at Swan Bay Station at 12:00pm. The Songline Station at the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre is open from 12:30pm-3:00pm on the second day of Mountain to Mouth 2016 (7 May), after a 13.9km walk (or train ride) from Drysdale Station. Check out the timetable for more information. 

 Mountain to Mouth is Geelong's multi-award winning journey of discovery, an 80km walk over two days and 11 stages. Register now.