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Ngunnhu Festival to go ahead at Brewarrina

Opening ceremony of the Ngunnhu Festival in Brewarrina in 2019. Photo MICHELLE BLAKENEY 2017
Lily Shearer . photo Jamie James

Brewarrina will celebrate its unique culture and community spirit when the Baiame’s Ngunnhu Festival kicks off on April 9–11.

The festival is organised by the Moogahlin Performing Arts organisation and is the culmination of years of hard work by local Brewarrina community members keen to see festivals of the past re-invigorated.

Lily Shearer is a former Brewarrina resident now based in Sydney with the Moogahlin organisation at the famous Carriage works art space. When she was asked to work on a festival that was inclusive of the many indigenous nations around the state, she was determined that Brewarrina would be front and centre.

“I am one of the co-founders and I said if we are a state based arts company, we have a responsibility to the regions,” Lily said.

“The region I am passionate about is where the oldest human made structures are and that’s the fish traps in my hometown of Brewarrina.

“Moogahlin means ‘to play and fool around’ and we are one of NSW’s leading First Nations performing arts companies, funded through the Australia Council and Create NSW.

“We are framing this year as our fifth face-to-face festival after one year’s absence due to funding and last year the cancellation due to COVID.

“It will also be a handover to local leadership and ownership of this festival,” she said.

Linda Boney is one of the Brewarrina community leaders who will drive the festival in coming years. Lily said Linda’s strong local connections and leadership skills made her an obvious choice to reinvigorate the tradition of festivals in the town.

“We used to have the Police and Firemen’s Picnic and then the Festival of Fisheries years ago, when everyone would go out to Red Hill for a get-together, there was a parade down the main street, we’d bob for apples, chase greasy pigs, there were egg and spoon and sack races, tug-of-war, goat races – it was so much fun,” Linda said.

“That dwindled away and the last one was in about 2000-2001, so I am very happy to be part of the Moogahlin Arts organisation and Baiame’s Ngunnhu Festival.

“It’s open to everyone in the community and beyond – everyone is welcome to come and be part of it,” Linda said.

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