Ken Peters-Dodd of the Widi people officially welcome the crew of the Steve Irwin to the Whitsundays.
Ken Peters-Dodd of the Widi people officially welcome the crew of the Steve Irwin to the Whitsundays. Peter Carruthers

Indigenous elder paddles to welcome Sea Shepherd flagship

CANOES cut clean lines through near mirror-finished surface en route to officially welcome the Sea Shepherd's flagship to the Whitsundays.

Indigenous elder Ken Dodds paddled out to meet the Steve Irwin, who had dropped anchor off Mandalay Point overnight.

Crew of the ship, made famous by its campaign against the Japanese whaling fleet in the southern ocean, lined the bow and waved as the welcome flotilla approached.

The Steve Irwin is on an Australian east coast tour, of which the final destination will be the Abbot Point coal loader north of Bowen.

 

Steve Irwin welcome : Indigenous leaders welcome Sea Shepard to the Whitsundays.

Managing director of Sea Shepherd, Jeff Hansen, said no confrontational-style action was planned at Abbot Point and the organisation was only interested in achieving a "presence" at the controversial coal port.

"This whole campaign has been about showing acknowledgement and support of the all the good work the communities have been doing in standing up for the reef," he said.

"We want to say 'you are not alone in the fight'.

"Organically it has been gluing all these communities together and it will come to a focal point at Abbot Point, which is effectively is the scene of these crimes against the natural world."

The campaign left the Steve Irwin's base in Williamstown on Port Phillip Bay in Victoria on July 20 and has slowly been making its way north, stopping at Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Noosa, 1770, Heron Island, Mackay and the Whitsundays.

Mr Dodds with other indigenous men Danarri Peters and Irwan McAvoy boarded the ship and raised the Aboriginal flag.

The captain of the vessel, Malcolm Holland, then accompanied the welcome party back to Shingley Beach.

A public welcome event, meet and greet and traditional smoking ceremony was held at the Whisper Bay VMR base.