The Returning Boomerang

‘The Chooky Dancers’ are return performers at Festivals directed by Rhoda Roberts, Photographer Michael Richards

The Returning Boomerang

Sandra Conte

1 October 2013

CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this article may contain images and names of Aboriginal people who have passed away.

Billed as ‘A New World Indigenous Festival for all Australians’, the inaugural Boomerang Festival runs from October 4-6, 2013. The line-up is balanced with an international flavour attracting a stream of artists and punters to Tyagarah Tea Farm, (the home of Bluesfest), Byron Bay, NSW, Australia, with camping available on Arakwal Bundjalung Land.

The Bundjalung of Byron Bay Arakwai People are extending  a ‘Welcome to Country’ to open the festival and the message from the Arakwal ‘Buberline’ Elders, as found in the festival programme states, “We want to see Country how it used to be. We want to continue to look after Country and want it to look after us. We want our people to be back on Country, caring for and using Country like we always have. We want to share parts of our culture with the wider community so they learn about and respect Country like we do. We want everybody to work together to keep Country clean and healthy.”

BOOMERANG FESTIVAL CURATOR AND DIRECTOR, is the inimitable Rhoda Roberts (pictured), a member of the Bundjalung nation, Widjabul clan of Northern NSW and South East QLD, founder and formerly Artistic Director of the once annual International Festival The Dreaming based at Woodford QLD; she was also the Artistic Director of the Sydney Dreaming Festival and the former Artistic Director of the Festival of the Dreaming staged in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. With Rhoda’s wealth of experience, and knowledge of country, it is no wonder that the inaugural  Boomerang program is replete with 133 performances and cultural experiences scheduled over three days and nights; the predictable result will be that punters, like the veritable returning boomerang, will be coming back for more of what will be an annual event at the same location. Rhoda recently launched the Festival program in which she states the event will be, “a festival that celebrates not only culture across all genres and ages but is committed to honouring protocol and sharing the deep intellectual strength of Aboriginal knowledge from across Australia and that of other first peoples across the globe”.

“On a personal note, the relationship with landscape, country and kin is the keystone to developing broader understanding and tolerance. Many of our performers, knowledge keepers and elders represent the clans of the Bundjalung from the Clarence River in the south, to the Logan River in the north and inland as far as the Great Dividing Range at Tenterfield and Warwick. Come and meet our mob in the Bundjalung Way or join us for a ‘cuppa’ with the Elders in our Tea Room, who tell their stories of their homelands that now include the regions of Evans Head, Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, Nimbin, Woodenbong, Byron Bay, Ballina, Coolangatta-Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah, the Gold Coast, Beaudesert and Warwick. Experience the profound, the mesmerising and... uniquely Australian”.

BOOMERANG FESTIVAL PRODUCER, Peter Noble states in the Program, “Our team, volunteers and media partners are thrilled to be continuing some of the long-term relationships we established with our first nations artists at Bluesfest over its 25-year history. It’s a time for us to pay homage and our respect to the late Dr. Yunupingu who wowed audiences with Yothu Yindi at Bluesfest – our sister festival – in 2003 and 2006. It was a time we saw the shifting sands of music and the many collaborations musicians develop who were and are simply colour blind. It’s this collaborative approach that is highlighted and continues with many of our artists working together, including Gurrumul, David Bridie with Frank Yamma and the concert series Wantok plus many more. So let’s experience together what has sustained the world’s oldest living culture, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia and welcome other world cultures to this extraordinary event”.

BOOMERANG also showcases ARTISTS such as Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, Thelma Plum and The Medics, in what is an international program of music, comedy, film and workshops through to fire gatherings, song circles, dance participations, ecology of the land, knowledge walks and thought-provoking cultural conversations. Arguably, no event quite matches the deep exchanges through the many oral and visual delights set before the audience. 

Check out the Festival Program:

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