The annual SIMS Foundation Emerald Gala Dinner is always a standout event on our calendar, and this year was no exception. Held at the stunning Sergeants Mess in picturesque Chowder Bay on the 25th of October, it was an evening to remember. With over 230 guests in attendance, the venue was bursting at the seams, and the excitement was palpable.

We kicked off the night with pre-dinner drinks on the bar’s balcony, offering panoramic views of the ever-awe-inspiring Sydney Harbour. As the sun set, we moved to the main event room, where an inspiring video set the stage, showcasing the remarkable work happening at SIMS.

Check out the clip here and find out what we’ve been up to!
Our own CEO & Executive Director, Professor Martina Doblin, and SIMS Foundation Chair, Jas Chambers, dazzled on the night.

Our evening began with a heartfelt Welcome to Country by Rowena Welsh-Jarret, who shared her profound connection to the sea country around Sydney. It was a touching reminder of the deep bonds between the ocean and the local indigenous culture.

Jas Chambers, Chair of the SIMS Foundation, and Martina Doblin, CEO and Executive Director of SIMS, kicked off the evening’s festivities, with the fabulous Bernie Hobbs as our MC. They set the tone for an engaging night ahead, including a captivating discussion with the amazing team from the Sapphire Project, Hayley Baillie and Susan Wynne.

But the true stars of the night were our rising science heroes: Franscisco Martinez-Baena, Laura Lamotta, and Mitch Brennan. These brilliant young minds under 30 wowed us with their insights into the vital work they’re doing, with a special focus on restoration and conservation in Sydney Harbour. It was an eye-opener and a definite highlight of the night.

Prinnie Stevens serenaded us with her mesmerizing vocals, and her rendition of “My Island Home” got everyone grooving in the limited dance space available. It was a moment of pure magic.

Yet, amidst all the fun and camaraderie, the core reason we gather every year is to fundraise for SIMS’ essential research programs. Glen Wirth got the auction excitement going, and it was fierce! The 2023 pledge stole the show, with donations targeted at two indigenous scholarships, supporting youth from our partner organizations with connections to Sydney Harbour. We’re thrilled to be a part of this initiative, especially with the return of Me-Mel (Goat Island) to traditional ownership. It’s a two-way exchange of knowledge that’s deeply woven into our work.

Highlights of the prizes offered included cruises donated by Lindblad Expeditions and Hurtigruten, a twilight sail on John “Herman” Winning’s supermaxi yacht, Andoo Comanche and a stunning emerald and topaz ring especially created for SIMS by Mosman jewellers, Evoka. The Hurtigruten prize of a spectacular voyage along the Norwegian Coast was won by Mosman local Kate Eccles OAM, President of the Mosman Parks & Bushland Association.

Our hearts were touched by the Sapphire Project’s opening donation of $50,000, and the generosity in the room on the night was overwhelming, with over $60,000 donated. In total, we raised a whopping $250,000+ for marine research and SIMS’ scientific programs. This was our biggest Emerald Dinner yet, and it couldn’t have happened without your support!

Sapphire Project Committee Member, Susan Wynne, and Co-Chair, Hayley Baillie with MC for the evening, Bernie Hobbs.
Hurtigruten’s Director of Marketing  – Asia Pacific, Joel Victoria,  presents a prize voucher for an Arctic Circle voyage to Kate Eccles OAM, President of The Mosman Parks & Bushland
Iconic SIMS supporter, Valerie Taylor AM, was in attendance.
Rowena Welsh-Jarret gave a touching address to welcome pledge donations.
Our amazing young scientist panel. (L-R) Laura La Motta, Franscisco Martinez-Baena and Mitchell Brennan.

We’d like to express our heartfelt gratitude to:

Our cherished supporters and friends

Our university partners and their extensive research networks

The Sapphire Project

All our generous prize donors

The dedicated Emerald Dinner Organizing Committee

Our fantastic SIMS staff

The incredible Sergeants Mess and their hardworking team

Bernie Hobbs, for being the perfect host

Rowena Welsh-Jarret, for her touching Welcome to Country

Prinnie Stevens, for her electrifying performance

Taylor’s Wines for supplying a superb selection of wines

Our young scientist panel, who inspire us all

Thank you for being part of this incredible journey and helping us make a real difference in marine science. We can’t wait to see what next year’s Emerald Dinner will bring! Until then, let’s keep the ocean in our hearts and minds.

If you’re interested to hear more about the evening, our friends at Mosman Daily have kindly written a piece linked below.

There are a few items still available at our GalaBid platform for purchase by Monday 20 November – please use the link below.
If you have any queries regarding prizes/donations, please direct these to