Mutawintji Cultural Festival to bring together traditional owners from across Australia for second year

ABC Broken Hill

By Josh Mercer and Aimee Volkofsky

A group of 10 Indigenous men and boys pose painted up for a dance.
The Barkindji dancers from Wilcannia will perform at Mutawintji in August.(ABC Broken Hill: Aimee Volkofsky)

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More than 100 dancers from across the country will come together at Mutawintji National Park in August for what is only the second gathering of its kind since colonisation. 

Key points:

  • The Mutawintji Cultural Festival will run for three days in August
  • The national park is a traditional gathering place for First Nations groups
  • The event will feature more than 100 dancers from four states

The park area is a traditional gathering place for Indigenous groups, where trade and ceremonies, such as marriages and births, took place in the past.

In 1998, it became the first park returned to its traditional Aboriginal owners and has since been leased back to the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

It will once again bring different nations together through the Mutawintji Cultural Festival on August 11.

The festival began in 2022 and is back by popular demand this year.

Huge interest from dancers

Malyangappa and Barkindji park ranger Leroy Johnson is looking forward to holding the festival again this year.

“We’re excited to have a lot of visitors out at Mutawintji,” he said.

“It’s been a meeting place for a long time, so we’re just going to continue that tradition and invite a lot of people out.”

Over the three days, there will be a chance for visitors to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture with guided tours, and workshops that will see people join in on activities such as weaving and jewellery and artefact making.

There will also be First Nations dance groups performing traditional dances from their nations.

Mutawintji Cultural Festival
A sign welcoming visitors to last year’s cultural festival.(ABC Broken Hill: Aimee Volkofsky)

Dancers will come from as far as Darwin, central Queensland, Victoria, and across New South Wales to participate.

Mr Johnson said dance groups had showed a lot of interest since word went out about the festival.

“I think the dancing network is very close-knit because once word got into that circle, then I just got a heap of interest from it,” he said 

Getting back to nature

While the cultural festival will be a chance for people to get together and learn from the traditional owners, Mutawintji National Park is open for people to visit throughout the year.

“Winter is always a good time to visit our park because you’ve got days like this — nice and sunny — and the nights are cold, but if you rug up around the fire it’s pretty cosy,” Mr Johnson said.

“You just see the landscape is different, especially in the mornings and afternoons — the light changes and it’s like you’re in a different place but you’re standing in the same spot.”

With no phone coverage or shops in the vicinity, people are being encouraged to pack accordingly.


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