The Inaugural Animals in the Wild Photographic Competition announced it’s winners in Narooma over the weekend.
The exhibition was a great success, with the competition receiving an overwhelming number of entries, of very high quality which portray some of Australia’s most beautiful animals.
The photo competition encouraged animal lovers and nature enthusiasts to get out into the wild and shoot native animals with a camera, and not with a gun. It was a positive response to the gun and killing culture that was also on display this weekend at Narooma’s Huntfest.
It is lenses at 50 paces in the usually peaceful seaside town of Narooma.
As hunting enthusiasts converge for Huntfest, an exhibition of guns, archery and animal butchering, animal lovers are staging a rival show of fauna in the wild that have also been ”shot” – with a camera.
The Narooma Huntfest began as a photography exhibition showcasing trophies of dead animals and drew more than 1000 visitors last year.
The small town was divided when the organisers sought, and won, council approval to expand the event into a gun exhibition.
The Coastwatcher’s Association labelled the event an ”arms fair”. Teachers complained it would send the wrong message to teenagers, and spoke of the horror inflicted on school communities in the US by gun crime.
Retired schoolteacher Susan Cruttenden, who has four children, said 200 people had signed a petition opposing Huntfest.
”Promoting guns to children just gets me so angry,” she said. ”Our town is branded as a beautiful relaxing place to holiday, not hunters’ headquarters.”
But motel owners lobbied in support of Huntfest, citing the potential tourism boost to the town during winter.
Huntfest co-ordinator Onno de Smeth said there was no live ammunition at the show, and visitors must pass through a metal detector.
Previous Huntfest winners included a photo of a dead hog lying across a 4WD bonnet.
”Only images of feral animals are allowed,” said Mr De Smeth.
At an art gallery across town, internationally renowned photographer Rex Dupain – son of legendary lensman Max Dupain – has judged the winners of the rival Animals in the Wild competition, including an outstanding image of a grass owl fleeing a harvester, and the ”aeronautical wonder” of a kookaburra in flight.
”The entries perfectly express how appreciating animals, and being in the Australian bush, means shooting animals with cameras, not with guns or bows and arrows,” said Greens MP David Shoebridge.
Eurobodalla Shire councillor Gabi Harding, who opposed her council’s support for Huntfest, said she had staged the rival exhibition to protect the town’s reputation.
But Mr De Smeth said only four out of 80 stands at Huntfest display firearms, and opponents were ”hypocrites” if they ate meat. ”People are bringing their kids along to broaden their horizons. We harvest animals, butcher them and cut them up for our consumption,” he said.
One petitioner to the council wrote: ”We don’t want Narooma famous for this.”
Authorities do not know the number of feral pigs in Sydney but they do know how they got here; some populations have been living on the city’s bushland fringes for generations, but every year more are dumped by hunters who have relocated them from rural NSW.