Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The First Australians at Woggan-ma-gule


What better way to start Australia Day than to spend an hour with Gadigal (Cadigal), Darug and other Aboriginal people at Farm Cove in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

It's an odd spectacle at first - an Aboriginal dance circle marked out in sand smack in the middle of a highly manicured botanic garden. But it's just the right place to think about our world cultures and how they have evolved into an Australian Society.

Once the music and dancing starts, you find yourself musing on the first encounters between First Fleeters and the Gadigal as much as the vibrancy of modern Aboriginal culture and music. This year's show was I think the best, weaving a complex story of Australia's flora and fauna and its first human inhabitants.

As always (see my photo from last year) the Governor and Sir Nicholas were guests of honour, along with Tony Stewart MP, Lisa Corbyn (Director General, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water) and members of the Australia Day Committee led by Michael Egan.

My one regret is not noting down the names of the creative forces behind this year's event. I know Mathew Doyle composed most of the (excellent) music and, as always, led the singing. Our very own Clarence Slockee was in fine form playing a particularly nasty creation in the story, and impressing me at least with two somersaults!

As an eye-opener in every sense (it does start at 8 am) it has been the perfect start to Australia Day since 2002. As Trish Meagher suggested to me this morning, perhaps we should film the event and broadcast it live to other sites around Sydney, New South Wales or beyond. A nice idea...

Image: Because I forgot my camera this year, I've used a picture from 2007.

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