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New festival brings a breath of fresh air

Queensland Uniting Church Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman waving his flag at the blessing of the fleet

Holiday-makers and residents of the Whitsundays were invited to ‘feel the wind in their hair and let their spirit soar’ at the inaugural ‘Festival of the Wind’ held in throughout the Whitsundays on the Whitsunday – Pentecost weekend.

The festival, organised by Uniting Church Whitsunday Tourism Chaplain Rev Terry Ayling extended the annual Blessing of the Fleet held at the Whitsunday Sailing Club in Airlie Beach for the last eighteen years into a vibrant, signature event for the Whitsundays.

It drew together the Christian festival of Whitsunday (Pentecost) and the local Naming Day

It was on Whitsunday in 1770 that Captain James Cook in HM Bark Endeavour, sailed into and named the Whitsunday Passage and Pentecost Island.

A range of wind-orientated activities were held over the weekend in Airlie Beach and the island resorts of Hamilton, Daydream and Hayman Islands, including sailing, kite-flying and blokarting,.

The ‘Festival of the Wind’ was launched with a stall selling kite kits at the community’s much loved Airlie Beach foreshore markets.

The Whitsunday Sailing Club hosted a Mid-Winter Yacht Race and on Saturday evening, residents and staff joined in a musical ‘Stoke the Fire’ BBQ at Coral Cove on Hamilton Island.

On Whit-Sunday, the planned sunrise gathering on Pentecost Island was relocated due to rough seas and held on Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island.

Queensland Uniting Church Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman, presented his Pentecost Message to the Church. READ THE MESSAGE HERE.

This was followed by a series of guest catamaran races held simultaneously on Hamilton, Hayman and Daydream Islands.

After a short launch trip back to Shute Harbour and a flag parade by young people along the Airlie foreshore Mr Ayling led the ‘Blessing of the Fleet’ celebration, which culminated in the crowd waving flags as a sign of blessing upon the sailing fleet.

This was followed by brass band performances, a BBQ lunch and Community Gathering, featuring local musicians and dignitaries and supported by the local Uniting Church Whitsunday – Proserpine congregation, and kite flying.

The final event of the ‘Festival of the Wind’ was the ‘Tongues of Fire’ Pentecost Celebration in All Saints Chapel, on Hamilton Island, where the path to the Chapel was lit by lanterns and the chapel was decorated in red streamers and a brightly coloured parachute draped over the communion table.

The Moderator brought a greeting to the community which had gathered from across the country and world to celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.

Mr Ayling said planning is already underway for next year’s ‘Festival of the Wind’ which may become a ‘Festival of Fire and Wind’ if he is able to broker a connection with the Fire Brigade which also held a carnival in Airlie Beach over the Whitsunday weekend!

He said that this year’s festival had increased awareness of what ‘Whitsunday’ is and means and that the future growth of the event will to encourage a growing sense of openness to the Spirit’s movement in people’s lives.

If you’d like to be a part of next year’s ‘Festival of the Wind’ arrangements, or to share in the planned Synod Tourism Ministry & Mission Conference, that will follow it next year, please contact Mr Ayling on Mobile 0407 105 071 or email HERE.

Photo : Queensland Uniting Church Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman waving his flag at the blessing of the fleet