This year’s Numburindi Festival was held from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 September, a week later than usual to accommodate the Mardayin Ceremony. Language, dance and song were celebrated with performances from Numbulwar clan groups together with broader family networks living in the Roper Gulf Region. The line-up of visiting musicians and dancers came from Groote Eylandt, Ngukurr, Katherine, Borroloola, Darwin and Melbourne. Audiences also travelled from Milingimbi and Yirrkala to enjoy the festivities of the three-day event.
Empowering the next generation through dance, music and culture, the Festival opened on the Thursday evening with a young peoples’ Wungubul followed by Numbulwar School’s junior and senior choirs and school band. This year young peoples’ programming was expanded with pre-Festival music workshops, focused on emerging female musicians, delivered by composer, performer and creative entrepreneur, Jessie Lloyd. In an exciting conclusion, after many years of community planning, Numburindi Arts was launched on the Friday.
The 2018 Numburindi Festival was held over three days from 13 to 15 September. At its core, the Festival focused on intergenerational exchange with clan Elders supporting and empowering youth arts practice. This resulted in an increased attendance from visiting music and dance groups travelling from Bickerton Island, Groote Eylandt, Ngukurr, Katherine, Beswick and Darwin. On the opening night young peoples’ programming included Wungubul performances which were followed by Numbulwar School’s junior and senior choirs and school band.
Friday evening the Festival was vibrant with a full Wungubul from Numbulwar dance groups, the Red Flag Dancers, Murrungun, Nuggarrgalu and Ngalmi/Mangurra. John Terepo and Christine Smith from Numbulwar performed alongside Tulekina Malafu and Lusianne Malafu from Tonga. Visiting dance groups included Wurramara (Bickerton Island) and Bongiliny Bongiliny, White Cockatoo Dancers (Beswick). The evening finished with youth dance groups MCGheez and Lipstick and visiting Elcho dancer, B-fella.
On Saturday there was a hive of activities – the Numbulwar School Fete, Community Market Place which included a free bush tucker feed and there was lots of laughter and fun with Darwin Castles jumping castle and waterslide. That evening the winners of the inaugural men and women’s Numburindi Festival Basketball Competition was announced along with an awards ceremony for the youth Wungubul. The evening was electric with six bands performing from Numbulwar, Ngukurr and Katherine – Numbulwar School Band, Yilila, Mambali Band, NT Express, Numburindi Reggae Band and T-Lynx. The bands showcased a unique contemporary sound sung in a mix of English, Anindiliyakwa, Wubuy and Creole.
For 2017, Numburindi Festival expanded its activities to three nights. The inclusion of Thursday night’s Youth Night presented a fantastic way to open the program. The festival space became an active teaching site for the exchange of cultural knowledge between young people and Elders of each Clan. Each clan brought together their young people to be the dancers for the evening. Numbulwar School Band performed three songs.
The Friday night Wungubul was a powerful performance with the adults and young people joining together from each of the four clans. The night closed with two award ceremonies. Nunggarrgalu performed first, followed by Murrugun, Red Flag Dancers, and then Ngalmi, and the Wungubul concluded with a final collaborative dance.
Saturday’s programming included day time youth activities, market stalls, a free community and bush-tucker feed. The visiting dance group Wurramara from
Bickerton Island opened the evening. This was the first visiting dance group Numburindi Festival has hosted and it was a great exchange in language and culture with a closely related neighbouring community. The festival also hosted five bands from Numbulwar and Groote Eylandt – Yilila, Mambali Band, NT Express, Poison Whisky and Salt Lake Band. The bands showcased a unique contemporary sound that draws together reggae, funk, and rock and roll, with lyrics in English, Anindiliyakwa, Wubuy and Creole. The dance site had close to 800 people up dancing, kicking up sand to these great bands. It was a fantastic high energy way to close the Numburindi Festival 2017.
The inaugural Numburindi Festival began with the official opening of the festival site, now known as Joshua Park in memory of a community Elder. To celebrate this event, the festival was opened with a parade of traditional dancers who danced from the old man’s house, through the streets of the community, to the festival site. A plaque was then unveiled with speeches from appropriate family members.
Traditional dancing took place as a continuation of the opening ceremony for the site with Numbulwar local bands Yilila, NT Express and Mumbali Band performing on the following night. Children’s activities and workshops also took place alongside a marketplace.
An annual festival had been a long term goal for the Numbulwar community – one that would showcase the unique culture and traditional dances, as well as local bush bands. The focus of this inaugural festival was on supporting local groups, providing them with a safe space to perform publicly in front of their community.