The inaugural Narrungdera Earth Fest, the three-day Aboriginal festival was a huge success over the weekend in Narrandera.
The first of its kind in the area, our community came together with people from across the region to celebrate local Wiradjuri culture and learn history and skills of the Wiradjuri peoples.
Gawaymbahna (Welcome) Event at the Narrandera Fisheries, opened the festival, welcoming visitors to Wiradjuri Country. Attended by Aboriginal Elders, community and approximately 200 school children from surrounding communities who got to experience the John Lake Fisheries Centre including the little turtles and Agro the Murray Cod.
The formalities were emceed by Narrandera Shire Councillor Braden Lyons and featured a Welcome to Country by Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Joy Ingram, attendees also enjoyed addresses by Mayor Kschenka and Narrandera Fisheries Matthew McClellan.
The audience were then emersed in culture with a Smoking Ceremony performed by Wiradjuri Elder Uncle Michael Lyons and a traditional dance performance by Dinawan’s Connection. The event finished with a bush tucker lunch cooked by Sandhills Artefacts.
By night people ventured to the Showground and sat around fire buckets to enjoy music and storytelling, including the debut of the film “Sandhill Stories” by Dr Jessica Byre, featuring memories of growing up on the Sandhills of Narrandera. The Didgeridoo competition showcased playing by young boys (Primary school age) and older boy’s (High School age), which was hotly contested. After a demonstration by Owen and Michael Lyons the adult category drew entrants from as far away as Sydney and introduced some new sounds not heard from a didgeridoo before.
At Saturday’s Narrungdera Cultural Day Narrandera born Master of Ceremony, Wiradjuri man Anthony Galluzzo, introduced Aunty Joy Ingram for a Welcome to Country, a Smoking Ceremony by local knowledge holder Neville Bamblett and a tradition dance performance by Dinawan’s Connection who invited attendees to join in and learn traditional dance.
Activities included a rock-climbing wall, market stalls, food vendors, Aboriginal art, Lions Train rides around town, face painting by local Aboriginal artist Trinity McDuff, a cooking demonstration by Celebrity Chef Mark Olive and animal encounters by Taronga Zoo.
On the main stage attendees were treated to a didgeridoo performance, local youth Xavier Beauchamp performing his original rap song, and music by Dookie Thorne, River Country Band, Amanda Hayes, Lisa Byrne and Tahaliana Soward who recently performed on TV series The Voice.
The final day, Sunday, included a charity lunch for Elders and community. The three-course meal inspired by traditional foods, prepared by celebrity chef The Black Olive – Mark Olive. Attendees enjoyed a screening of Dr Jessica Byrne’s Sandhills Stories and performance by local youth Stella Hunt and visiting Aboriginal singer/songwriter Dane Kennedy. Ticket sales from this function are being invested back into community towards Suicide prevention initiatives.
Other highlights of the weekend were cultural tours with Uncle Michael Lyons, an Aboriginal art workshop with Owen Lyons, weaving with Nioka Dupond, hip hop dancing with Tahaliana Soward, Wayapa Wuurkshop with Margaret Snowden and a cultural talk with Uncle Graham Byrne.
Council would like to thank the many contributors who brought this impressive event together. Roseanne Powell and Angela Galluzzo of Prickly Lizard Events together with Council’s Tourism and Infrastructure Departments, who together organised and curated a collection of immersive experiences for everyone to enjoy and learn through.
The Wiradjuri Elders group, Uncle Michael Lyons and Auntie Jean Galuzzo, all who significantly contributed cultural knowledge to the creation of these events, ensuring attendees were able to learn about Aboriginal culture.
This project was proudly funded by the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, Narrandera Shire Council and Narrandera Bendigo Bank.