‘Jingi Walla! Hello!’ echoed across town on Monday as hundreds of tourists and locals gathered at Main Beach in Byron Bay to celebrate the survival of the Indigenous people of this country. It was smiles and the sense of being together rather than apart as visitors relaxed to watch ancient Australian culture first hand and to eat an all-Aussie snag.
Protests about the invasion of this land were held across the nation, but the local mob took a different tack in what has become a joyous annual Australian Day celebration known as Survival Day. In Byron it was a time to sing and dance, listen to some didge and guitar and get down like a goanna and kangaroo.
The event, as always, was inclusive of all people in Australia and all people from Indigenous groups in this sunburnt place with performances from black fellas from across the nation represented during the Welcome to Country, delivered by Nigel Stewart.
At almost 86 years of age, local elder Aunty Dulcie Nicholls still manages to attend events with her family and she enjoyed a sausage and the show from one of the shade tents set up on the foreshore as her clan enjoyed the salt water and summer breeze.
Arakwal woman Delta Kay said that January 26 is a day of mixed feelings for Aboriginal people but that it is about choices, and looking at it from a different point of view goes a long way toward reconciliation. ‘We choose to celebrate what is important to us: our cultural survival.’
Delta says that the day is also a success because of the local support from Byron Shire Council, the reconciliation mob and Byron NPWS.
‘The feedback from locals and visitors was fantastic’, said Delta. ‘And our reconciliation stall was a very busy part of the event and very helpful as it is important to educate people on Aboriginal issues.’
Other activities on the day included basket making, banner painting, a sausage sizzle and the traditional shapeshifter dance, much loved by the jarjums and their mums and dads.
~ Photos Tree Faerie