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May 13, 2021

New festival launches at Bluesfest

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Bluesfest director Peter Noble has announced the arrival of a new festival to the Bluesfest site.

Boomerang Festival will be a multi-arts event with an indigenous theme and will be held on Bundjalung land at the Bluesfest site over the Labour Day long weekend in October.

Starting this year, Boomerang will be directed by Bundjalung woman and well known artistic director Rhoda Roberts.

While program details are sketchy at present, Bluesfest director Peter Noble said Boomerang Festival would ‘define a true sense of place and belonging through some daring workshops, and ideas, forums and intergenerational exchange programs’.

At the event’s launch on Saturday Mr Noble said, ‘This is a special moment for me personally, and for us all – hosting a significant cultural event on the Bluesfest site which is actually Bundjalung country not only makes sense but makes me proud. Through the healing of music, the rhythm of language and the power of dance, it’s a time to have fun and gather as we recognise the similarities we all share.’

Festival director Rhoda Roberts told ABC local radio this morning that Boomerang would be a great replacement for Woodford’s Dreaming festival, which wound up two years ago.

‘It’s continuing that wonderful commitment from Woodford and also the engagement we had with our patrons and visitors to the site,’ she said.

Also at the launch was arts minster Tony Burke, who said he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if he saw applications for funding of the festival in the near future.

But Mr Noble said the festival, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million to put on, would go ahead with or without funding.


Daltrey to return to bill?

Mr Noble also hinted at a festival Q&A event on Sunday that he hoped to secure Roger Daltrey for next year’s 25th anniversary festival.

Following a question from the audience, he said he would not speculate on the makeup of the landmark event except to say, ‘there’s one band in particular that I want but it doesn’t make any sense dropping names if you don’t have them locked in. They were due to play a couple of years ago but had to cancel out about four weeks before.’

Daltrey, former frontman of The Who, was scheduled to headline last year’s event and perform his famous rock opera Tommy in its entirety but suddenly pulled out after the event had been announced.

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  1. The story of the new festival sounds like good news till you talk to some of the local Custodians.
    Lewis Walker, widely recognized Bundjalung Custodian, expressed his dismay and frustration at the lack of any consultation with Elders regarding this proposal.
    He is also outraged at the use of the name Boomerang as it has a special cultural significance to the traditional Bundjalung People.
    Lewis Walker has talked about the vision of “The Boomerang Festival” for many years, as it was the vision of his mother to bring people together with such a cultural festival. He has realized this vision in an event called: “Julinbah Yowarl Rainbow Corroboree”, ( Rainbow connected in a Dreamtime story to the Boomerang). It is held twice a year around the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes in Bundjalung country. The next one:21st to 23rd of September.
    The three day cultural experience is endorsed by the Elders, and it is based around a genuine indigenous community at Tabulam called Jubullam. The aim is to provide positive change for the local youth as well as an authentic development of understanding between people of different racial and cultural backgrounds. The event has already been held 7 times although it receives no funding and it is surviving through donations and the very hard work of a few indigenous and non indigenous volunteers working together. It is widely supported by the Byron shire community, attracting top North Coast artists donating their time and growing number of national and international visitors. Rainbow Corroboree has a unique spirit and potential to grow and bring some real long term benefits to our wider community. With its $10,000 budget, it will find it hard to compete for attention as a genuine voice of the people in the shadow of a million dollar commercial event, presumably offering a smorgasbord “indigenous” experience sprinkled with alcohol and only 10 minutes from Byron Bay.
    Rhoda Roberts and Peter Noble’s announcement to hold an event very close to the timing of the regular Julinbah Yowarl Rainbow Corroboree using the words: Indigenous and Bundjalung, seems more like self promotion for these two individuals, rather than real respect, interest, or concern for the local indigenous community. With it’s big wads of money , it’s desire to “import’ indigenous performers and dazzle, it will surely eclipse and intimidate any original community’s efforts at recognition and continuation of the local indigenous culture.
    Projects like Lewis’ Rainbow Corroboree, or the Art Camps run by Anthony Gordon deserve support, not plagiarism.


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