Clermont’s Wombat Festival, in its second year, has once again left a lasting impression, drawing an incredible crowd and creating cherished memories.
The organisers were thrilled with the turnout and extended their heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made the event possible with all proceeds going to the Wombat Foundation and saving the Hairy Nosed Wombat. From sponsors and volunteers to performers and participants, the festival owes its success to the collective efforts of numerous individuals and organisations.
At the forefront of appreciation are the festival’s sponsors: Isaac Regional Council, Glencore Clermont Open Cut, and Clermont Country Motor Inn. Their continued support, both financial and otherwise, has played an instrumental role in bringing this remarkable event to fruition.
The festival commenced with the esteemed presence of Cr Carolyn Franzmann, who formally inaugurated the festivities at the Wombats Under the Stars Cocktail evening.
The Department of Environment and Science was represented by Kylie and Chloe, who gave an update on the Northern Hairy Wombat recovery program.
The population has now increased to approximately 315 wombats living in the wild across the two habitat sites, Epping Forest National Park (Scientific) and Richard Underwood Nature Refuge. They also shared the good news, Powrunna State Forest, near St George has been chosen as a third site rehabilitation area. This site was chosen because of its unique soil, which is perfect for the wombats to burrow.
Additionally, the world-renowned author and endangered wildlife poet Anthony Esh Lovell from Yeppoon added a touch of artistic brilliance to the proceedings with his witty and heartfelt Wombat poems written to support the wombat cause.
The cocktail evening kicked off in style with a captivating Indigenous performance by Coedie, Ryan, and Liam from Wangan and Jagalingou tribes. Their mesmerising didgeridoo performance, welcome to country, and smoking ceremony immersed the audience in the vibrant cultural heritage of the Clermont region.
No cocktail night is complete without delectable food, and the Clermont Wombat Under the Stars event delivered on that front as well. The cooks behind the scenes, Neil Oliffe and Tangles Gillies, laboured tirelessly around the purpose built camp oven fire from 6 am and their efforts culminated in a splendid feast that left attendees raving about the culinary delights.
The festival also owes a debt of gratitude to teacher Mathew Sears and the exceptional hospitality students from Clermont State High School. Their impeccable service and dedication were instrumental in creating a seamless experience for all attendees.
The Clermont Rotary Club deserves a special mention for their remarkable cocktails which delighted festival-goers. As for the festival’s signature cocktail, the Salty Wombat emerged as the top choice!
There was also a Wombat Art display that included painted ply wombats, knitted wombats, canvas artwork and all sorts of amazing wombat merchandise with donations coming from as far as Canada. All the proceeds go towards supporting wombat conservation.
Wombat Art Show people’s choice has gone to Moranbah artist Alaina Earl for her Wolfang Wombat. Alaina’s entry was one of those sponsored by 4RFM Moranbah Community Radio 96.9 and she won $300 sponsored by Michelle Landry Federal Member for Capricornia.
On the Sunday, the Wombat Markets extended the festival across the weekend and was a wonderful way for hundreds of families across the coalfields to celebrate wombats and Mother’s Day.
There were plenty of stalls with the massive drawcard being the much-anticipated Wombat races (aka guinea pig races). When the Clermont Men’s Shed were first approached to design the wombat race track they shook their heads in dismay, however there was never any doubt they could do the job and their final design was outstanding.
The wombat winners were: Machiatto (Dysart) coming in 1st, Americano (Dysart) taking out 2nd and Kernel (Moranbah) bring up the 3rd place from a field of 20 entrants. The winners took home cash prize money thanks to sponsorship from Dale Last MP for Burdekin.
The festival would not have been possible without the generosity of various organisations. Clermont Performing Arts and all the amazing performers at the markets, and Vinnies Clermont, Moranbah Arts and the Clermont Junior Motorcycle Club graciously supplying equipment.
Finally, a special mention goes to the Clermont Artslink team whose innovative idea birthed the festival celebrating the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. The festival’s success is a testament to the collective effort of the team, extending beyond the core committee to include their supportive husbands, families, and wider community.