For our six Immersion students, their first trip to the top end was always going to be memorable, but add the 30 year anniversary of the Barunga Festival and the trip becomes unforgettable. The Festival has a strong history of showcasing the Katherine region and supporting remote indigenous communities to come together and celebrate the positive aspects of community life through football, basketball, softball, music (contemporary and traditional), traditional arts and culture. Our students were welcomed and encouraged to join in the festivities and enjoy this unique opportunity to engage with a remote Indigenous community.
“It helped fill in a few gaps in my personal knowledge of our country’s history and gain an insight into the issues facing remote indigenous communities. Overall, it was an incredibly positive experience and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to visit a remote community.”
“Festivals like Barunga are important for all Australians to learn about, experience and celebrate with our indigenous population. Festivals are about celebrating and Barunga combines every aspect of indigenous life into one weekend of fun. Everything is covered – community, music, arts, sport, culture and politics.”
“There was a lot of education happening at the festival. The short film festival was used to portray important messages about smoking, drinking, keeping fit and healthy, often in a humourous and interesting way. The cultural side of the festival is extremely important, particularly for the younger generation and is a way for them to learn more about the great culture of indigenous Australia. Personally, I have never been to a festival quite like Barunga.”
History the Barunga Festival
Barunga Festival officially began in 1985 in the remote Aboriginal community of Bamyili instigated by the leader of the Bagala clan, Bangardi Lee.
In 1988, Barunga was the site of Aboriginal leaders coming together and presenting Prime Minister Bob Hawke with the Barunga Statement which called for a treaty. Prime Minister Hawke signed the statement in his visit to the Festival but sadly, it was never brought before Parliament. Yothu Yindi went on to write the worldwide hit ‘Treaty’ as a result of this gathering at the Barunga Festival.