GALLERY: Thousands kick off festival at Blessing of Fleet
DANCERS performed a traditional Butchulla welcome and fireworks soared overhead at the Blessing of the Fleet at Urangan Marina, kicking off the Hervey Bay Whale Festival.
The public got the chance to board the Bay's whale-watching vessels after the boats were given a multi-faith blessing.
Robyn Peach, event manager with Fraser Coast Tourism and Events, said the event included a host of entertainment, food stalls and activities for the whole family.
"The fleet blessing is a centuries-old seafaring tradition to foster a safe and prosperous season," she said.
The Aloha Mai E chant was performed by Hervey Bay's Leandra Gurbiel, who was trained in Hawaii.
"The chant is a calling to the humpback whales, invoking the blessing of migration," she said.
Ms Gurbiel said it was also about bringing the community together for love and connection and wishing a safe journey to those on the water.
In less than a week, the Esplanade will come alive when the annual illumination parade gets under way.
Mrs Peach said bright, illuminated floats would roll along the Esplanade on August 3 in the colourful spectacle that formed one half of the Whale Parade and Concert.
Then on August 10 the Coast Pop Up Sunset Pier Party will be held between 2pm and 5pm at Scarness Park.
Coast Restaurant & Bar owner Julia Paussa described the chic event as a big cocktail party on the pier with food tents serving canapes and representatives of beer, wine and spirit sellers talking to the guests about their products.
"We're working on a menu that reflects our local produce, canapes, premium cocktails, Yangarra Estate wine and beers from Crafty Cargo Taphouse," she said.