Malandarri Festival, Borroloola

Listen to the awesome BLA Anthem, by the young people of Borroloola School. Additional lyrics and arrangement by Caiti Baker. Production by James Mangohig.

Malandarri Festival wins Community Festival of 2023!! Listen here: Marlene Timothy chats to ABC Darwin Radio’s Jess Ong

A spoken word performance, film screenings and a fashion show were some of the highlights of the much-loved Malandarri Festival 10th anniversary celebrations in 2023.

Named after the traditional name for Borroloola, Malandarri, meaning freshwater spring, the 2023 Malandarri Festival opened on Friday night, 16 June, with a performance from Borroloola poet and spoken word artist Margaret Allwood accompanied with music by Kuya James.

Saturday night highlights included the fashion show and performances by soulful singer songwriter Caiti Baker, popular local bands, and the Borroloola Women’s Cultural Song Project, Arrkula Yinbayarra – Together We Sing.

This years’ festival goers were also treated to the premier screening of Duwarra Wujara (Two Young Men), an exquisite animation that tells how Country was named, bringing to life the history, traditional customs, and songs from the Gulf Country, a collaborative project by Yanyuwa families with long term friend and anthropologist John Bradley.

2023 marked the ten-year anniversary of the Malandarri Festival under the strong and dedicated creative direction of Marlene Timothy. It’s her continued passion to instill traditional knowledge in the young people and engage the whole community, that makes the program so strong each year.

As a Yanyuwa/Garrwa woman from Borroloola, cultural and linguistic maintenance is very important to Timothy, so the preservation, revitalisation, and promotion of local languages is the foundation of the festivals’ program content as well as the workshop activities throughout the community in the lead up to the event.

We teach our language to our children, through songs that they get to perform at the festival each year. That keeps our language alive, but also many of the traditions, which would fade away in the young people’s minds, if we didn’t teach them the songs”. Marlene Timothy

Each year festival fever starts several weeks ahead with workshops and rehearsals. This year was no exception. Caiti Baker, Djuki Mala dancers and textile artist Laura Shipp were among the festival mentors this year.

The Malandarri Festival is best known for its traditional dance program, a schedule of lively performances from groups around the region dancing and singing the stories from the past – of connection to country and to culture. The audience is invited to sit under the festoon lights to watch and listen to the dreamtime / creation stories being re-enacted and kept alive for future story tellers.

The Malandarri Festival is a family friendly, drug and alcohol-free event. Entry each day is by gold coin donation. Seniors and children are free. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the food available to purchase from the market stalls. Gates open at 5pm on Friday and 3pm on Saturday.

The 2023 Malandarri Festival was supported by The McArthur River Mine Community Benefits Trust, The Northern Territory Government, The Australia Council for the Arts (now Creative Australia), Roper River Gulf Regional Council, Mabunji Aboriginal Resource Indigenous Corporation and Mawurli and Wirriwangkuma Aboriginal Corporation (MAWA).

Dates for the 2024 Malandarri Festival are 14-15 June.

Malandarri Festival 2023 Video by TFJ Productions

Malandarri Festival 2022 Video, by Good Well Productions

Duwarra Wujara (Two Young Men) Video, a collaborative project by Yanyuwa families with long-term friend and anthropologist Dr. John Bradley of Monash University


Marlene Timothy

Malandarri Festival Director and Cultural Events Officer

Borroloola, NT

08 8941 1444