The annual Garma festival is the largest and most vibrant celebration of Yolngu (Aboriginal people of north east Arnhem Land) culture, and is widely regarded as one of Australia's most significant Indigenous festivals. First held in 1999, it is arranged and promoted by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, representing five of the Yolngu clans: the Gumatj, Rirratjingu, Djapu, Galpu and Wanguri, as the centrepiece of the Foundation's vision. Many will know Yothu Yindi best through the band that bears that title.
Yolngu culture in north-east Arnhem Land - a heartland of Aboriginal culture and land rights - is among the oldest living cultures on earth, stretching back more than 40,000 years. The Garma Festival celebrates this rich cultural heritage with a series of events based on local art, performance and traditions, as well as a forum looking at the serious issues facing this community today.
Set in a stringybark forest with views to the Gulf of Carpentaria, the festival attracts around 20 clan groups from north east Arnhem land, as well as representatives from clan groups and neighbouring indigenous peoples throughout the Northern Territory. The hope is that by celebrating the festival, local people will be encouraged to preserve and maintain traditional dance (bunggul), song (manikay), art and ceremony.
Some of the main events include award-winning and internationally acclaimed visual artists of the region painting Nuku Dhulang (traditional clan designs on bark), women's cultural practices such as field trips for the collection of bush tucker, bush medicine, pandanus leaves and bush dyes for weaving and Yidaki masterclasses with selected students from all over the world, including field trips to collect termite-hollowed logs. There are also displays of indigenous knowledge of the land and the craft of spear-making and deadly accurate spear-throwing for hunting fish, turtle, dugong, kangaroo, wallaby and goanna.
The event can be attended by invitation only. These can be arranged through the Garma Festival Website or by contacting World Expeditions, via its website; the only booking agent for the event, worldwide, which can also make all travel arrangements.
Fax: +61 (0) 8 8941 1088
Email: [email protected]
Address: GPO Box 2727, Darwin, Northern Territory, 0801, Australia
Name: Arnhem Land
For those wishing to travel in this area it should be noted that the current attitude of the Northern Land Council is that there must be some reason to your journey beyond sightseeing or simply wanting to travel around the edges of the continent. Consequently applications to travel through Arnhem Land are not easy to obtain. It is private property and should be respected as such.
An area of 97,000 square kilometres in the north-eastern corner of the Northern Territory, extending from Port Roper on the Gulf of Carpentaria around the coast to the East Alligator River where it adjoins Kakadu National Park.
Added by reck on September 20, 2005