Christmas on a plate

Fire up your tastebuds for a colourful, culinary journey

Farm, Fish & Forage

Inspirational settings, these events deliver more than a taste of Christmas Island

Marine Conservation & Ocean Adventure

There’s no better time to experience one of the most unique ecosystems on earth

Program

Our seven night, eight day program of inspiration, entertainment and adventure with film, art, music, food, talks, treks, trails and hands-on workshops will be delivered by an expert and experience team of local tourism providers and mainland adventurers, explorers, scientists, chefs, media, photographers and conservationists.

Wilderness, Walks & Wildlife Encounters

Take a magical path less travelled on the Indian Ocean Fest’s curated Wilderness Walks and Wildlife encounters. Christmas Island National Park covers 85 square kilometres (63 per cent) of the island’s land area so you can’t help but immerse yourself in nature. Wander through enchanted forests where tall timbers shade moss covered trails, follow gurgling streams to majestic coastlines, hidden grottos, refreshing waterfalls and deserted palm fringed beaches where the only footprint you’re likely to see is your own. Teaming up with Parks Australia expert local guides, and a special guest or two, you’ll be treated to panoramic views and vantage points for the most insta-worthy of photos; close-up encounters with rare frigate birds, nesting seabirds and turtles and up to 20 species of crabs – some only found on the Island.

Marine Conservation & Ocean Adventure

How deep is your love?

If you’re a thalassophile or have an unfulfilled yearning for one-of-a-kind adventures in a marine playground described as Australia’s Galapagos, the Indian Ocean Fest is for you. Our immersive program is all about sharing our mutual appreciation, love, and respect for what covers 70 percent of our planet. And with the proclamation of the Christmas Island Marine Park in March 2022 to protect sea life, including whale sharks and spawning bluefin tuna, there’s no better time to experience one of the most unique ecosystems on earth, teeming with biodiversity. Our experienced team of divers, free-divers, ocean conservationists, watermen and waterwomen will take you onto and into the blue.

Farm, Fish & Forage

From guided foraging tours through farm and forest, to learning how to make the most of the catch of the day, to creative cocktails infused with foraged treasures, the Indian Ocean Fest program unearths hidden stories of remote island produce and explores the challenges and learnings of growing and eating more sustainably. Inspirational settings, these events deliver more than a taste of Christmas Island.

Christmas on a plate

Fire up your tastebuds for a colourful, culinary journey. The Indian Ocean Fest program dishes up a menu designed to highlight the Island’s diversity and pair our guest chef Paul Iskov from Fervor, and one of Australia’s favourite MasterChef legends, Poh Ling Yeow, with local producers. Highlights include a one-of-a-kind sparkling and seafood feast, castaway island style on a deserted white sand beach, our Stories with Spice Malay and Chinese banquet hosted by Poh and Island Aunties to a bespoke cocktail making class and farm foraging feast and going local with sunset views you’ll remember long after you leave.

Our Fest team

Heidi Tait

Tangaroa Blue Foundation Founder and CEO

Indian Ocean Fest panellist, guest speaker, and your deep dive guide to ocean conservation and citizen science

Heidi has always been an avid lover of nature and the outdoors, so when she was working as a scuba instructor and started finding rubbish everywhere, her only option was to act. In 2004 Heidi founded Tangaroa Blue Foundation (TBF) as a way of addressing the ever-increasing threat of marine debris in our oceans. Through the TBF Heidi introduced the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI), which is a network of communities, schools, industries, government agencies and individuals focused on reducing the amount of marine debris washing into our oceans. Heidi was named one of the “18 Most Influential Women in Ocean Conservation” in the July 2018 edition of Ocean Geographic.

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest because I get to visit the stunning location of Christmas Island and collaborate with the community and visitors to leave it better than I found it.

Poh Ling Yeow

Cook, artist, actress, author, MasterChef favourite, and television presenter

Indian Ocean Fest Stories with Spice dinner host, panellist, and your deep dive guide to local Chinese and Malay stories of flavour

Poh was born in Malaysia spending her first nine years growing up in Kuala Lumpur before her family migrated to South Australia where she now lives and works. Her food career took off in 2009 in the first season of MasterChef Australia finishing runner up and winning the hearts of viewers nationally. Television cooking shows followed –with Poh’s Kitchen and then Poh & Co. In 2010 she fulfilled a lifelong dream of publishing her first cookbook, Poh’s Kitchen – My Cooking Adventures, which reached the top ten Australian bestsellers list. She dished up a second book, Same Same but Different , and then a third, Poh Bakes A Hundred Greats. The consummate multi-tasker, on top of her roles as TV presenter and author, Poh is a visual artist, painting professionally for more than a decade. We can’t wait for Poh to showcase our Chinese and Malay heritage and cuisine with the local Island Aunties.

David Mulheron

Christmas Island Freedive Owner, athlete, champion freediver

Indian Ocean Fest guest speaker, instructor, and your deep dive guide to breathtaking experiences

Christmas Island Freedive Owner, David knows about taking a deep dive into the blue! A qualified freediving instructor and athlete, he is the current national record holder in the freediving category of Constant Weight Bi-Fins and was also named Australian Male Freediving Athlete of The Year in 2019. He holds three national records and has also placed in the top 10 world rankings. Who better to introduce you to our magic underwater world and the life-changing benefits of mastering breathing techniques?

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest because I can’t wait to introduce all the Indian Ocean Fest participants to the amazing world of freediving. Christmas Island has some of the best freediving conditions found anywhere in the world. They are going to love it!

Paul Iskov

Executive Chef Fervor

Indian Ocean Fest’s culinary ‘Yoda’, Purveyor of Pop-Up Dining, dinner host, speaker, and deep dive guide to eating locally and sustainably

Paul’s wise wizardry in the kitchen with a deference to native cuisine and traditions thousands of years in the making is the force behind his Jedi master nomenclature. Having worked in some of the world’s best kitchens, including Denmark’s Noma, DOM in Sao Paolo and Coi in San Francisco. Paul’s focus is now on more mobile feasts focusing on Australian produce and ingredients foraged on location. Paul and his team will be harnessing the unique nature and landscapes of Christmas Island presenting a series of pop-up dining experiences from forest farm to national park and breathtaking beach locations.

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest because exploring such a unique place is extremely exciting, the sheer beauty of the island is something I can’t wait to see with my own eyes.

Mark Bennett

Co-founder and director Hidden Garden Sustainable Farms

Indian Ocean Fest Host, guest speaker, and your deep dive guide to permaculture and growing your own food more sustainably

Growing up on Christmas Island, Mark developed a keen interest in how food security can significantly impact the quality of life for isolated communities. With more than a decade of environmental management experience, Mark worked across Australia and Micronesia, before being drawn back to Christmas Island where he has strong ties and a long affiliation.

As co-founder of Hidden Garden Sustainable Farms, Mark is realising a life-long dream of turning what was once degraded, barren land, into a food-producing sustainable oasis of fresh produce. Mark will host an evening of foraging and feasting at the farm and share his story of resilience on the road to rehabilitation with tips on how you can turn your own backyard into your own food forest.

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest because showcasing this amazing part of the world is a privilege! To be a part of #IndianOceanFest is an honour.

Mark Rochfort

Commercial Fisher, Director Shorefire Fishing 

Indian Ocean Fest guest speaker, and your deep dive guide to sustainable fishing 

Commercial Fisherman, Mark Rochfort, arrived on Christmas Island for the first time from Perth in 1984 as a 21-year-old – he had just one bag and planned to stay two weeks. 37 years later he’s still here! For most of that time he’s been navigating the open sea off Flying Fish Cove in his six-metre boat, opening his company Shorefire in 1994, first as a charter business and then as a licensed fishing operation. Mark is a passionate advocate for sustainable fishing and species protection. He keeps the community well-fed, his catch of the day a key staple on many household menus. Mark will share his knowledge and insights during our castaway style dinner with Fervor.

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest to see what the Fervor team creates with the produce I supply. 

Dr Katrina West

Research Scientist CSIRO

Indian Ocean Fest panellist, guest speaker, marine detective, and your deep dive guide to conservation of endangered species

Katrina can be described as an underwater detective! As an ocean conservationist and researcher, she works with the very latest, high-tech genetic remote-sensing tools, such as environmental DNA metabarcoding, to locate a wide range of marine animals, including the endangered and hard to find. Her work helps scientists to better understand and track the health of marine life and their coral reef habitats, the effects of climate change and to develop conservation and management strategies for vulnerable populations. Katrina’s fieldwork is primarily located in the Indian Ocean region, from the coral-rich Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the subterranean and deep-sea depths of Christmas Island, and the crocodile-infested waterways of the Kimberley. We look forward to Katrina’s insights and ways we can all contribute to biodiversity exploration and ocean health.

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest to engage people with the unique and unexplored biodiversity of the Indian Ocean Territories.

Tanya Cross

Founder and owner Eco Crab Industries

Your deep dive guide to turning ocean junk into take-home treasure

Founding Eco Crab Industries in 2019 Tanya and the team do much more than collect rubbish – they work with like-minded people to stop it at the source by sharing information and advocating against new plastic production. Tanya’s workshops are innovative and creative giving participants the chance to repurpose the plastic “throw away” into take-home works of art. Eco Crab Industries acts as a recycling point on Christmas Island for marine debris and plays a vital role in ocean conservation showing everyday people can contribute to change.

Most looking forward to #IndianOceanFest…To get down and dirty. Seeing excitement in participants when they realise what they can create from “waste” and know they have made a difference is always an honour. #IndianOceanFest can put Christmas Island further on the map as problem-solvers to the global ocean pollution crisis.

Our Program

Find out a bit more about the full seven-day program of inspiration, entertainment and adventure with film, art, music, food, talks, treks, trails, hands-on workshops.

Want to be one of the first to dive deeper?

About Indian Ocean Fest

The seven-day fest will offer you the chance to truly immerse yourself in nature – from jaw-dropping vistas, to deserted white sandy beaches, fresh-water streams, and waterfalls you can take a shower under.

Interested in diving deeper in 2023?