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Byron Shire
January 22, 2022

Interview with Goothala Doyle

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Goothala Doyle is one of the presenters at Starlight Festival in Byron 3–6 January

Sharing Wisdom

Goothala Doyle is a dreamtime healer, actor, traditional craftsman/artisan, cultural educator, and activist, presented in 2017 at the World First Nations traditional knowledge conference. Goothala Doyle’s country and people are Yugarabul; he was first recognised as the first Aboriginal person to successfully sue the Queensland police department in the 80s. He was chosen to represent Australia and protest against the French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, alongside representatives of first nations peoples of the South Pacific. He travelled to Canada for the First Nations Round Table Festival in Vancouver. Goothala has worked at a grassroots level in the Aboriginal communities of Napranum and Aurukun. He has worked in many roles from homeland movement to community place officer. Goothala worked as a youth officer and then community partnerships officer for Education Queensland. He has acted in a few movies. A couple of these movies are Dead Creek by Benjamin Southwell and Eagle Hawk by Bryan Nason. He lives a semi-traditional life and has had no fixed address for many years, even when being enslaved in the systems of government and industry. He has worked for education and environment centres, conducted weaving, didgeridoo, bushtukka and medicine walks, and talks on country. Goothala currently delivers authentic cultural education circles, first under the nature yarn elements circles and now spirit circles ancient wisdom.

You live a semi-traditional life. Can you tell me what that’s like and how hard it is to disengage from the ‘system’; how has it empowered you in your life and as an Indigenous man?

Living a life not dependent on the system is one of choice. Yet choices and decisions are made by an inner collective of two or three knowings. Knowing oneself, knowing one’s current circumstances, and knowing that I can make changes for myself. Knowing the governing systems of our society doesn’t support this country’s original peoples; they also only give the illusion of what we need to exist and many choose to be dependent on them.

Why are we still such a long way from proper reconciliation in Australia do you think? How could our governments and our people move forward?

For proper reconciliation to happen we must first acknowledge that something needs to be reconciled, who needs to do the reconciling. The invading people of this country were governed by the laws of the sea and have over-layered this country’s lore – the Lore of the Land. 

Why is yarning so important?

In my gathering we fire yarn or talk in accordance with its element; its representation as hypnotic fire can be what we yarn about. We yarn about what gets our attention and we journey with many elements and their representations for the betterment of the person and all involved.

What can the whole community learn from ancient wisdom and spirit? 

Ancient wisdom and knowing is in all of us. It’s in our blood. Our DNA. It followed us down – or better yet up – our family ancestral line. Ceremony was and still is a way to gain a higher perspective, understanding that can lead to discernment. 

What will you be sharing at Spirit Festival?

The Spirit Circles Ancient Wisdom team will be guiding all who attend through a ceremony assisting in breathwork, emotional attachment, and freeing up the entanglements people are stuck in. In every ceremony there may be didgeridoo vibration, sound, meditation, singing, or chants, movement and dancing, artistic and creative expression, representation and roleplaying.

Goothala Doyle is one of the presenters at Starlight Festival in Byron 3–6 January at the Bangalow A&I Hall. For program info and to find out about speakers go to starlightfestival.com.au.


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