Parramatta’s rich First Nations cultures take centre stage for Warami

Live music, dance, talks and tours celebrating the City of Parramatta’s rich First Nations histories and cultures will take centre stage as Council presents its annual Warami festival.

Kicking off with National Sorry Day commemorations on 26 May and culminating in outdoor concerts and markets on 11 July for Burramatta NAIDOC Day, the unique cultural program offers free and affordable COVID-safe events for people of all ages.

Parramatta is named after the traditional owners, the Burramattagal clan of the Dharug people, and Warami is a Dharug word meaning ‘good to see you’.

“Parramatta always was and always will be an important gathering place and the Warami festival, now in its third year, honours the cultures, arts, music, languages and powerful connections to Country of our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer said.

“This year we are proud to offer incredible experiences over six weeks, showcasing powerful stories of the Stolen Generations, talks by First Nations thought leaders Bruce Pascoe and Karlie Noon, and performances by two of the strongest First Nations hip-hop artists in the country Barkaa and JK-47.

“The Dharug have an ongoing connection to Country in Parramatta and Warami is a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn about the contributions First Nations people make to our global city.”

The event program will centre around this year’s themes: Reconciliation Week’s ‘More Than A Word. Reconciliation Takes Action’ and NAIDOC Week’s ‘Heal Country!’

National Sorry Day

Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct, North Parramatta

26 May, 11am-3pm

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and civic leaders will honour the legacy of the Stolen

Generations at a free gathering featuring Smoking and Welcome Ceremonies, storytelling, and performances.

Reconciliation Week

‘Yuin Byalla in Burramatta’ (‘Truth Talking in Burramatta’)

Riverside Theatres

3 June, 6-9pm

First Nations experts and community leaders including award-winning writer Bruce Pascoe, astronomer Karlie Noon, and Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led climate network Seed, discuss the important connections First Nations Australians have with the land. Tickets are $10.

Burramatta NAIDOC Day

Parramatta Park

11 July, 10am-4pm

On-the-rise First Nations hip-hop artists Barkaa and JK-47, the 2020 Triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year, will headline the live music and entertainment at this free all-day festival. There are also workshops for all ages, craft activities, markets, a Speak Out Tent (Yuin Byalla), community barbecue, and corroboree ground.

Workshops and tours

Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre

A range of in-person and online activities will be available throughout the Warami festival including a Dharug culture camp, bush tucker walk, ochre painting, and weaving workshop. $10 per person. Visit:

Council has also partnered with Reconciliation NSW to deliver the Pathways to Reconciliation Program at four City of Parramatta public primary schools in Northmead, Epping, Newington and Toongabbie East. The three-week workshops include art, writing, and reflections on First Nations cultures and histories.

“Council is proud to partner with Reconciliation NSW to teach the next generation of Australians about Parramatta’s proud First Nations heritage,” Cr Dwyer said.

Reconciliation NSW Co-Chair Annie Tennant said: “Reconciliation NSW is thrilled to be able to work with local Dharug Elder Uncle Chris Tobin in these schools on Dharug Country and are pleased that these students will be leaders in sharing new knowledge and understandings of First Nations Peoples’ Countries, histories, technologies, languages, and culture through the Pathways to Reconciliation program. The program supports schools and communities to foster a higher level of knowledge and pride, build teacher confidence and capacity, and develop a deeper understanding of reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, the Parramatta Eels will take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs as part of the NRL’s Indigenous Round (Round 12) at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 29 May. The Eels will also be giving away free game tickets to support Warami.

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