by Miriam Wollner
posted 19/01/2016

Boomerang Festival at Bluesfest 2016

Bluesfest has invited the Boomerang Festival to provide a First peoples experience like no other, including Talks and Ideas, Workshops, Traditional Healing practices and Dance. It aims to attract and increase community support for the important cultural initiative for the Northern Rivers and Australia, in order for it to grow back into an independent, stand-alone festival.

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Bluesfest Festival Director Peter Noble is passionate about nurturing Australia’s Indigenous cultures and together with revered curator Rhoda Roberts, has created a new precinct, adding a unique dimension to the incredible multi-faceted cultural experience that is BLUESFEST.


The Boomerang Precinct, beside the Jambalaya stage, provides a safe family program of arts and age – old culture and rituals along with workshops and interactive experiences.

First nations musicians will participate in the Bluesfest program, as they always have.

The Boomerang precinct is a destination, and is about more than just the music.  A unique cultural exchange, with audiences personally touched by the experience of connecting and embracing the social, cultural and the spiritual aspects of Australia’s, and the world’s, First peoples’ traditional lives and contemporary practices from across the globe.

Audiences will experience living cultures through traditional and contemporary music, featuring some of the world’s oldest instruments, dance and rituals.


The Boomerang Festival has the desired aim of ending the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia by providing an annual creative event that builds strong partnerships and showcases First Nations’ advantage: quite simply, their culture.

Due to arts and Indigenous program funding cuts, Boomerang could not run as a stand-alone event after its successful debut in 2013. In order to maintain momentum and build audience support for Boomerang, Bluesfest Byron Bay has created the precinct for a Boomerang program in 2016.

There is now  a crowd funding campaign running to raise funds for the festival to run independently again on Bundjalung country.

Boomerang Festival is asking the progressive, forward thinking leaders and members of their community to support them in their mission to make the NSW Northern Rivers leaders in this positive change for all Australians..

Boomerang Festival is in its final weeks of its crowd funding campaign and needs as much community support as possible.

Mayor Simon Richardson has just joined the likes of Archie Roach, Paul Kelly, and Troy Brady in doing a video of support and raised his hand as one of the first friends of Boomerang in a gesture of solidarity.

The organiser of Boomerang Festival are asking as many people as possible to make videos of support for them to share on social media.

Crowd funding packages range from $100 to $7,000, all offering wonderful cultural gifts and experiences.

If you would like to see more of the already sent in videos and want to have more information on the crowd funding campaign, click here or head on to the festival’s website. Interested investors can donate here. The campaign ends on the 31st of January 2016, after running for 90 days.






The dance program involves a series of performances, workshops, audience participation, community involvement and inter-generational and international exchanges through welcome and gifting ceremonies.


A collective of artists of indigenous Rotuman, Fijian and Pacific Island heritage whose work is part of their quest to retain traditional knowledge and skills and to gain more insight, depth and understanding of their heritage, but with a focus on creative freedom. Many of the projects initiated by the collective aims to recapture and revive ancient art forms and stories, and with this strong foundation, enable them to create innovative works with cultural integrity.


Jannawi Dance Theatre is a Sydney based dance company encompassing contemporary and traditional style from the Darug regions of the mountains to Arnhem Land in the north. Under the direction of Former Bangarra principle dancer and Choreographer Peta Strachan they have toured internationally and featured at the recent Commonwealth Games in Scotland.


The members of eXcelsior are of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island descent. The clan groups they belong to range from North & Central Queensland, down to North & Central New South Wales. Debuting in February 2014, they have performed at Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s ‘Clancestry’,  Sydney Opera House’s Asian Football Cup draw, and opening for the Chooky Dancers show Djuki Mala at the Judith Wright Centre.

Going Wanhurr and the East Journey

Under the direction of Bangarra performer Djakapurra Munyarryun the dance is a two-way experience. Linking Western and Yolŋu cultures, and knowledge together through dance or Bungull and Manikay songs that share the ideas and the philosophy of country and culture and how our culture and napaki (non-Indigenous) should live together. This diverse group represent the clans of the Dhalinbuy region in North East Arnhem land and have toured the globe with their performances and Yidaki playing. Featuring members of contemporary band East Journey, this displays the magic of intergenerational exchange and connections through dance and music. 


An absolute hit at Boomerang Festival 2013, these impressive dancers are from Boigu Island, located in the top Western part of the Torres Strait and the most northerly inhabited island of Australia separating Cape York Peninsula form the island of New Guinea. The performers share their traditional songs and dances that have been passed down from generation to generation based on the everyday life of island stories.

5000742-16x9-940x529ARAKWAL DANCERS

Byron Bay’s local Indigenous dance group and representative of Bundjalung land, the Arakwal dancers welcome Bluesfest patrons to country at the Opening Ceremony every year. The Arakwal Aboriginal Corporation does fantastic work to educate locals and visitors alike, and keep local stories alive through educational programs and various artistic activities.


Through a series of panel discussions and ‘in conversations’, our Talks and Ideas program will cover a broad range of topics and current issues relating to first nations globally.

ARCHIE ROACH: 25 years of Charcoal Lane’

A Bundjalung / Gunditjmara man, Archie is one of Australia’s beloved, respected and admired singer/songwriters with a voice and sensibility that is this country’s most important song line.

A venerable and dignified performer, he captured the hearts and minds of a nation in 1990 with Charcoal Lane and the landmark song ‘Took the Children Away’. 25 years on, and now with a new album and show ‘Into the Bloodstream’, he has made a triumphant return from incredible adversity and personal pain, bold enough to come back to the stage and the spotlight and tell us what he has learned.

TENZIN CHOEGYAL: ‘Music making of the displaced’

In 1997, Tenzin Choegyal came to Australia with little more than a bag, his Dranyen, and a voice full of passion for Tibet. Over the years, Tenzin has created a successful international career as a musician, playing at such prestigious events as the WOMAD festival and several Concerts for Tibet at Carnegie Hall, New York.

In 2009 Tenzin founded the annual Festival of Tibet which showcases Tibetan culture through music, film, art and discussion.  Tenzin was musical director for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2011 and 2013, and has written and performed soundtracks for numerous TV shows, films and documentaries.

GETANO BANN: ‘Issues affecting island communities’

As a singer, song writer, story teller, registered music therapist, for Getano Bann, music, dance, storytelling and humour were an influential and integral part of his childhood, growing up in an extended Torres Strait Islander Family. Of Scottish and Torres Strait Islander descent, Getano began his musical apprenticeship amongst the mangroves and the creek beds, daydreaming, creating poems, melodies and songs which were to form his first compositions.

As a music therapist Getano works with children on the streets, in drug rehabilitation and in detention centres, and is passionate about the power of music and the arts in healing process. 

SHARI SEBBENS: ‘The New Black Voice’

A NIDA graduate from the Jabirr Jabirr / Bardi Peoples, Sebbens, is one of six children, born and raised in Darwin. She featured in the feature film The Sapphires and is a regular on a number of television series including the award winning Redfern Now, The Gods of Wheat Street, and the new comedy series 8MMM. A well-known theatre performer, she recently appeared in the Sydney theatre production The Battle of Waterloo and the Belvoir street production of Radiance. 

NAKKIAH LUI: ‘The New Black Voice’

With Gamilaroi Torres Strait Islander heritage Nakkiah Lui is one of Australia’s exciting new playwrights. In the short space of her 25 years, she has studied abroad, all but finished a law degree, and had a playwright residency at Belvoir St Theatre. The Inaugural winner of The Dreaming Award national arts prize, and Belvoir’s Balnaves Indigenous Playwright Award in 2012, she went on to write and perform in the production To Kill the Messenger.

More recently she was commissioned as one of the writers for series 1&2 of ABC TV ‘s production Black Comedy .


A covered, private space where traditional healing takes place. Patrons will have the opportunity to receive this sacred and powerful healing via same-day bookings at the venue.


Under the guidance of healer Christine Bullock , New Zealands Rongoā Māori is the traditional healing system of Māori. It focuses on the oral transmission of knowledge, diversity of practice and the spiritual dimension of health. Rongoā Māori encompasses herbal remedies, physical therapies and spiritual healing.

More information on the Boomerang program and its feature performers and participants can be found here.

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