There are few opportunities in Australia where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can sit down, chat and celebrate the positive aspects of remote community life, together. There are few places nationally where people can camp under the stars, enjoy everything from Aboriginal rock bands to a game of AFL, or join in a traditional dance ceremony.
This place is Barunga, and this opportunity is the annual Barunga Festival.
A Happy Meeting Place
The Barunga Festival is a grass roots festival that encourages people to come together and experience the positive aspects of remote community life. Everyone participates; Indigenous and nonIndigenous people talk, eat and dance together, enjoying the unique opportunity for cross-cultural engagement. Barunga is a meeting place, and this family-focused event reaches a broad demographic of all ages, with participants coming from all states of Australia, including some overseas visitors. Approximately 65% of the audience is Indigenous and 35% is non-Indigenous.
Best Practice Model – Community Festivals
Barunga Festival is proudly leading the way with a best practice model for remote community festivals around the country, having successfully implemented multiple policies including a healthy food policy for all food vendors; an alcohol and smoke free policy; and has a comprehensive event management plan. Incorporating a nonvolunteer policy also encourages local employment. The Festival management is currently developing programs that will compliment national school curriculum.
Employment and Training Opportunities
Barunga Festival supports the development of micro businesses for local Indigenous people, as well as training and employment. Art stalls, tour guiding, didgeridoo making workshops – the list of small business participation and development grows each year.
“This is the kind of festival that changes the way you see the world forever.” John Butler, Headline performer, Barunga Festival
“The meaning of the word Barunga is ‘a happy place for families to live’, and that’s exactly what we want for the festival, a happy place for people to come and enjoy themselves.” Jamie Ahfat, Barunga Community Member and didgeridoo maker
“This year’s Barunga Festival was the most positive and inspiring event I think I’ve ever been to. The generosity and willingness of Indigenous people to share their culture made the whole event a truly amazing experience.” Kris Keogh, NT News
“Barunga….. an absolute experience of a lifetime.” David Albert, Alberts Publishing, APRA.
“A rare insight into a part of the country and Indigenous culture that so few of us would otherwise ever get to experience first-hand.” Damian Trotter, Managing Director of Sony/ATV Music Publishing
“Without doubt, Barunga is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. Aboriginal communities from across the Territory sharing a common camp with those of us from much further afield. Not a lot of common language, but great warmth and welcome. Barunga is what I think a festival should be – sport, art, music, dance and the sharing of stories and culture.” Dean Ormston, Head of Member Services Group, APRA AMCOS