About the festival and how to get there

About Barunga Festival

Barunga Festival, held annually on the Queen’s birthday long weekend (9-11 June, 2017) is now in its 32nd year, earning its place as one of the most important community festivals in regional Australia.

The Festival has a strong history of showcasing the Katherine region and supporting remote indigenous communities to come together and celebrate the positive aspects of community life through football, basketball, softball, music (contemporary and traditional), traditional arts and culture. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to join in the festivities and enjoy this unique opportunity to engage with a remote Indigenous community.

The 2016 Festival attracted 3,500 visitors from far and wide, and garnered national and international media coverage.

In 2017, this much-loved Territory event promises to deliver an incredible program of music, sport, culture, art, dance, circus, kids activities, workshops, healthy food and many more festive treats – all of which will be revealed in the New Year.

Some things you need to know about coming to Barunga:

  • Barunga is located 70kms south-east of Katherine on Central Arnhem Rd (sealed road, no need for 4WDs).
  • Fuel is unavailable for sale at Barunga Community, make sure you fill up in Katherine.
  • Barunga is a dry community, and the Festival is a strictly drug and alcohol free event. Please note there will be police checks on the road to Barunga and your car may be searched.
  • Camping areas available in Barunga Community. Festival staff will direct you to these areas. If camping doesn’t appeal there are hotel/motel options in Katherine (http://www.visitkatherine.com.au/)
  • There will be a combination of portable and permanent toilets on site, but showering facilities are very limited. There is a beautiful (croc free) river to swim in!
  • Barunga Festival 2017 has a healthy food policy. A variety of food options will be available at reasonable prices throughout the Festival. The Outback (general) Store in Barunga is incredibly well stocked and surprisingly affordable. Support the community by buying locally if you can!
  • Entry fee valid for 3-day Festival (includes camping fees).
  • Access from 10am Friday the 9th June to lunchtime Monday the 12th of June.
  • Wristbands will be issued at the gate and MUST be kept on for the duration of the Festival.
  • Dogs are not permitted at the Barunga Festival.
  • Please refer to the FAQ for answers to common questions.



Barunga Festival officially began in 1985 in the remote Aboriginal community of Bamyili instigated by the leader of the Bagala clan, Bangardi Lee.

In 1988, Barunga was the site of Aboriginal leaders coming together and presenting Prime Minister Bob Hawke with the Barunga Statement which called for a treaty. Prime Minister Hawke signed the statement in his visit to the Festival but sadly, it was never brought before Parliament. Yothu Yindi went on to write the worldwide hit ‘Treaty’ as a result of this gathering at the Barunga Festival.