Festival rekindles region's Portuguese links

PORTUGAL’S links with south-west Victoria, possibly spanning almost 500 years, will be rekindled on Sunday with the annual Portuguese cultural festival in Warrnambool.

Hundreds of visitors are expected to arrive by car and bus to celebrate their culture and recall the significance of the Mahogany Ship legend based on a Portuguese caravel allegedly washed ashore west of Warrnambool while mapping Australia in 1521.

They will gather on Cannon Hill at a padrao honouring ancient mariners, sing the national anthems of Australia and Portugal and hear speeches by Warrnambool’s mayor Cr Michael Neoh and Portugal’s honorary consul in Melbourne, Carlos de Lemos.

Then they will descend to Lake Pertobe  for  an afternoon of  cultural dancing, singing and feasting.

It’s a tradition that started in 1991 when Vern Robson was city council chief executive.

He’s still in the welcoming group and encouraged   local residents to join the festivities and traditional barbecue lunch.

“There are usually at least 500 people involved and at times crowds have swelled to more than 1000,” he said.

“Warrnambool is still very much a special place for the Portuguese  community, particularly with the Mahogany Ship and the work of the late Kenneth McIntyre in showing Portuguese caravels came here before Captain Cook.

“Warrnambool’s padrao monument is unique in Australia.”

The Cannon Hill official ceremony starts at 12.30pm.

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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