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New exhibition 'Bidhiinja' opens at the Port Stephens Visitor Information Centre

'Bidhiinja: restoring our oyster reefs' invites audiences to learn about the past, present and future of oyster reefs in Australia. Enjoy interactive displays while learning about the benefits oyster reefs provide to communities and the environment.

A new exhibition developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), 'Bidhiinja' tells the forgotten history of oyster reefs in New South Wales and the work now underway to restore these important ecosystems.

Oyster reefs were once a dominant part of our seascape. More than 99% of natural oyster reefs are now considered ‘functionally extinct’ – decimated by a combination of historical overfishing, habitat destruction, catchment clearing and water-quality degradation, land reclamation and disease.

The NSW Oyster Reef Restoration Project, led by NSW DPI is working to reintroduce oyster reef habitats to the States’ estuaries and to share the story of their rich history, important cultural value, and significant benefits with local communities and estuaries. 'Bidhiinja' invites audiences to learn about the past, present and future of Australia’s oyster reefs.

This beautiful exhibition combines First Nations knowledge, western science, and design, including illustrations by exhibition artist and Yaegl woman Frances Belle Parker. The QR code enabled augmented reality (AR) interactive brings an oyster reef to life across the panels and listen to the sound of snapping shrimp. Physical interactives invite you to see what can be found in a midden, turn the wheel to see what a healthy ecosystem looks like, or open the door to explore the art and design of oyster shell.

This exciting collaboration between the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Australian National Maritime Museum is proudly funded by the NSW Government through the Marine Estate Management Strategy, which aims to deliver a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest wellbeing of the community, now and into the future.

'Bidhiinja: restoring our oyster reefs' is on display at the Port Stephens Visitor Information Centre until Friday 8 March. Entry to the exhibition is free. This exhibition is sponsored by the Tomaree Museum Association (TMA).

The Port Stephens Visitor Information Centre is located at 60 Victoria Parade, Nelson Bay.