Australia’s celebrated Arnhem Land aerospace project, rather than being dedicatedly civilian as the nation was media-led to believe, will have a US military component. Can the town of Nhulunbuy be permitted to survive? Probably not. Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine will soon close and the only other functions of the town are as a servicing hub for local Aboriginal communities and as a staging post for tourism. Obviously, both roles will end. And the Indigenous population? Without access to Songline sites, morale will collapse, and Arnhem Aboriginal culture will go into terminal decline.
Yirrkala is an indigenous community in East Arnhem Shire, Northern Territory of Australia. It is 18 km South-East from the large mining town of Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land. In the 2016 census, Yirrkala had a population of 809 people.
There has been an indigenous community at Yirrkala throughout recorded history, but the community increased enormously in size when Yirrkala mission was founded in 1935. Local governance and planning are now the responsibility of the Yolngu-led Dhanbul, which is roughly equivalent to a Shire Council in non-indigenous communities.
Yirrkala is also home to a number of Mission Aviation Fellowship pilots and engineers based in Arnhem Land providing air transport services.
Yirrkala is home to a number of leading indigenous artists, whose traditional Aboriginal art, particularly bark painting, can be found in art galleries around the world, and whose work frequently wins awards such as the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Their work is available to the public from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre and Museum and also from the YBE art centre.
It is also a traditional home of the Yidaki (didgeridoo), and some of the world’s finest didgeridoos are still made at Yirrkala.
Yirrkala played a pivotal role in the development of the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians when the document Bark Petition was created at Yirrkala in 1963 and sent to the Federal Government to protest at the Prime Minister’s announcement that a parcel of their land was to be sold to a bauxite mining company. Although the petition itself was unsuccessful in the sense that the bauxite mining at Nhulunbuy went ahead as planned, it alerted non-indigenous Australians to the need for indigenous representation in such decisions, and prompted a government report recommending payment of compensation, protection of sacred sites, creation of a permanent parliamentary standing committee to scrutinise developments at Yirrkala, and also acknowledged the indigenous people’s moral right to their lands. The Bark Petition is on display in the Parliament House in Canberra.
Yirrkala has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
- Roy Marika (1925-93), councillor and artist
- Galarrwuy Yunupingu (1948-), land rights activist and Chair, Northern Land Council
- Gatjil Djerrkura (1949-2004), ceremonial leader
- Mandawuy Yunupingu (1956-2013), musician and educator
- Raymattja Marika (c.1959-2008), scholar, educator, linguist and cultural advocate
- Yothu Yindi (1986-2000), rock band
- Nathan Djerrkura (1988-), Australian rules footballer
- Maminydjama Maymuru (1997-), model
- Timmy Burarrwanga, businessman and cultural leader
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The Gove AFL Grand Final was held in Yirrkala on Saturday, 1 September with an incredible turn out by the East Arnhem Community.
Following consultation with the Rirratjingu and Gumatj Aboriginal Corporations, the traditional owners requested licensees implement takeaway alcohol restrictions during the grand final weekend.
Officer in Charge of Nhulunbuy Police, Senior Sergeant Daniel Whitfield-Jones said the community wanted to maintain order and enhance community amenity, social harmony and wellbeing. As a harm reduction initiative, police, in collaboration with all licenced premises in Nhulunbuy, were able to negotiate a reduction in takeaway hours and supply amounts.
“The initiative was a tremendous success, with no domestic violence or other alcohol-related violence or antisocial behaviour being recorded over the weekend. We would like to thank the community for their support during this period,” he said.
“This is a great example of what our community can achieve when we all work together.”
In Yirrkala, tenants have recently moved into 13 new houses while in Ramingining 10 families now have brand new homes.
The Territory Labor Government’s undertaking to increase and upgrade housing across the NT is part of its long-term plan to create generational change that will improve the lives of people in remote areas.
Only days after Australia’s population hit 25 million people, a baby boy has become the latest addition to the country’s population, when he was born just before 3am this morning in the back of an ambulance in remote East Arnhem Land.
When going into labour, the 18-year-old mother was talked through her contractions by a St John Ambulance Emergency Dispatcher via phone, while paramedics were en-route to the community of Yirrkala.
With the help of the paramedics the young woman gave birth to a baby boy in the back of the ambulance.
Both mum and baby were taken to Gove District Hospital.
Higher-than-anticipated birth rates and mass migration have seen the country’s population increase to 25 million earlier this week – 33 years earlier than predicted two decades ago.
The only national event of its kind, DAAF generated a record $2.23 million in 2017 and a total of $8.83 million over the past five years and has secured a reputation as one of the country’s most significant and internationally recognised arts events
It’s set to be the largest one ever as, showcasing the work of more than 2000 Indigenous artists from across Australia with 100 per cent of revenue going back to remote communities.
Buku-Larrnggay Mulka (Yirrkala)
Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts (East Arnhem Land)
Injalak Arts (Galbanyala)
Ngukurr Arts Aboriginal Corporation (Ngukurr)
Milingimbi Art and Culture (East Arnhem Land)
Darwin will again be transformed into an internationally recognised epicentre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) culture, art, fashion, music and food, as the Top End hosts the 12th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) this August.
Created 12 years ago, DAAF has cemented itself as a platform to ethically promote the artwork of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres and communicate the important economic role they play in generating revenue for remote communities. It has also become a wider platform to discuss modern Indigenous culture, issues and ideas.
Growing annually and with almost 10,700 attendees in 2017, the 2018 DAAF will feature a selection of prestigious cultural events and activities, kicking off with the popular From Country to Couture fashion show on 8 August.
DAAF will showcase the work of more than 2000 Indigenous artists from across Australia, with 100 per cent of revenue going back to remote communities.
The only national event of its kind, DAAF generated a record $2.23 million in 2017 and a total of $8.83 million over the past five years and has secured a reputation as one of the country’s most significant and internationally recognised arts events.
Executive Director of DAAFF, Claire Summers, said she expected the New York Times’ recent recognition of the Top End as one of the “Top 52 Places to Go in 2018” would bolster already growing international visitor numbers this year.
“It was humbling to see DAAF named as one of the key reasons to visit the Top End, and fantastic to see our region receive such positive international endorsement,” she said. “We’ve been steadily building our international curator visitor numbers in recent years, and expect this to increase following the New York Times’ recognition.”
Each year DAAF showcases a spectacular diversity of artwork and provides visitors with a genuine opportunity to meet Indigenous artists, performers, and arts workers who have travelled to Darwin from some of the most remote regions of Australia.
This year’s calendar includes cultural performances, workshops and demonstrations, kids activity stations and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF) panel discussion.
“DAAF provides a genuine opportunity for arts industry buyers and art and design aficionados to purchase art directly from Indigenous owned and incorporated Art Centres from right across Australia,” Ms Summers said.
“We have visitors come from all over the world for the opportunity to purchase stunning art and experience the rich diversity of artwork that has been inspired by Australia’s most remote desert and coastal regions, to rural and urban communities.”
DAAF offers a range of styles, mediums and products including paintings on canvas, bark paintings, works on paper including limited edition prints, sculpture, didgeridoos, fibre art and cultural regalia.
DAAF is held annually in August, and is proud to sit under the umbrella of the Darwin Festival. DAAF is owned and operated by a membership of ATSI Art Centres and its mission is to encourage the production of Aboriginal arts and assist with the promotion in an ethical business environment. DAAFF is committed to professional development opportunities for artists and Art Workers, and to continually contribute to the cultural aspirations of the Art Centres.
DAAF was originally conceived and designed to complement the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA). It also celebrates the National Indigenous Music Awards and the Garma Festival which are held over the same week. Together, these prestigious events mark the most significant national festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts in the world. DAAF is also proudly supported as an umbrella event of the Darwin Festival.
For further information, visit www.daaf.com.au .
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STANDING in stark contrast to the picturesque and peaceful Yirrkala coastline behind it, the Aboriginal Family Violence Policing Conference has painted a detailed picture of abuse in the NT.
As conversations and workshops kicked off on Thursday, NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw told delegates he was not going to shy away from the current situation and delivered new insights into the issues.
“This year alone, we’ve attended 27,352 alcohol related incidents and 12,192 domestic violence related incidents,” he said.
Opening in cinemas at the same time as his final album tops the ARIA charts, this documentary offers an intimate look at the life of Gurrumul – the singer with an angelic voice who raised awareness of Yolngu culture around the world.
The contrast between crass commercial exploitation of musicians in the search for fame and record sales, and a genuine artist who was connected with his people, culture and country, is clearly documented. To see Gurrumul live was a heartwarming, exceptional experience because you knew you were in the presence of genius.
Gurrumul is a film for everyone, just as his music is: it is a film about triumph over adversity and the existence of hope in tragedy. It provides a glimpse of how respect for Indigenous culture may lead to a renewed relationship between the non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians, something which can only come from a true recognition, understanding and valuing of Indigenous people and culture.
Raised on Yirrkala mission in Arnhem Land in the 1950s, Ms Marika was initially tutored in traditional bark painting by her artist father Mawalan Marika, who encouraged her and her sisters to paint the ancestral creation stories of their clan, an activity typically reserved only for Yolngu men.
In addition to her forging her own artistic path, Ms Marika has assisted other artists and become a powerful advocate for the protection of Indigenous art and culture.
As a traditional landowner at Yirrkala, she is both inspired and determined to ensure her Yolngu language and homeland in Yalangbara (Port Bradshaw) – one of the most significant sacred sites in north-east Arnhem Land region – is protected and recognised.
We’re looking for ABORIGINAL actors keen to play a variety of roles. New stars to be found!!! No experience necessary. This is a nationwide search for ABORIGINAL MEN AND WOMEN aged 16-65yrs.
Reuniting director Stephen Johnson and writer Chris Anastassiades, creatives behind award-winning film YOLNGU BOY.
Witiyana Marika, Jack Thompson and the team are working with local communities, the Kakadu Board of Management and Traditional Owners including Jonathan Nadji, Alfred Nayingul, Adrian Gumurdal and Jeffrey Lee.