video Sharon Shostak
Organisers of the inaugural Boomerang Festival of indigenous music and culture held at Tyagarah over the weekend were bouyed by its success and crowd response, vowing it will come back bigger and better next year.
More than 5,000 people attended the three sunshine-filled days of the festival to engage in the music, art, dance, painting, film, discussion and cultural exchanges of first-nation people from around the world, including weaving circles, traditional Maori healing and tea with elders.
‘The verdict is in; Australia has an incredible new festival that is here to stay and it is called Boomerang,’ the official press release this morning proclaimed.
Festival director Rhoda Roberts said, ‘Boomerang offered a completely unique experience to festivalgoers’.
Promoter Peter Noble was effusive in his praise after the closing ceremony yesterday saying he was immensely proud to see what it had achieved and wanted it to be a permanent event on the local festival calendar.
‘I have never felt more pride in doing an event, ever,’ the promoter of the longrunning Bluesfest at the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm said.
‘Never have I presented a better festival than Boomerang. My heart is swelling with pride as we are walking out of this event site with our roots deeper in this country for what we have experienced in the original peoples’ culture,’ he said.
‘The people who came to Boomerang shared our pride in our culture and we are better people for it. I saw thousands of cameras flashing during the opening ceremony and I know that in the years to come I am going to see many more thousands. Boomerang will come back and this is going to be one of Australia’s greatest festivals.’
Many people thanked Mr Noble and Ms Roberts after the moving and spirited closing ceremony and the two said it would no doubt come back with the word set to be spread around by those who attended.
Mr Noble told APN Media that while the inaugural festival would not make a profit this year, it had been more successful than the first Bluesfest and it was only a matter of time, perhaps two years, before 10,000 people a day would attend.
‘The world doesn’t need another rock festival; it needs events like this and that is why the Boomerang Festival will grow and succeed,’ he said.
Ms Roberts said, ‘we are on the crest of new beginnings for all of us’.
‘People are returning for the experience and for our people it is returning the culture,’ she said.
‘Everyone there knows they were at the start of something really big. Boomerang is an experience that no other festival can match.
‘The atmosphere on the festival grounds over the weekend was electric and there was a unanimous view among festivalgoers, performers and crew that they were participating in something very special including (former minister) Tony Burke, who described it as an “unforgettable weekend”,’ Ms Roberts said.
Journalist George Negus said the festival is perfectly named because it would return.
‘It will come back, if relations between black and white Australians are to become more equitable more mature and more democratic,’ Mr Negus said.
‘The festival will play an important role in the two-way process so important in bringing cultures and their peoples closer.
‘Not only that, with the inaugural Boomerang as the benchmark it actually would be a lot of fun.’
Festival highlights included the opening and closing ceremonies, which featured first-nation performers from around the globe and drew the crowd into the dance grounds to be united as one.
The performance from Elcho Island singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu on Saturday night that included a surprise guest appearance from Natalie Pa’apa’a of Blue King Brown was a touted as another highlight.
Other standouts included the thought-provoking dialogue with Dr Gondarra, Xavier Rudd and Jeff McMullen, and the five-year-old dancer from the Malu Kiai Mura Buai Dance Troupe at the sand circle had the crowd enthralled.
Wantok Sing Sing, John Williamson and Archie Roach were also big crowd draws.
~ Photos Tree Faerie