• The poster art for the 50th Anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off Freedom Day Festival. (Freedom Day Festival)Source: Freedom Day Festival
The three-day festival celebrates the Gurindji elders who walked off Wave Hill cattle station all those years ago and the legacy they have left for the Aboriginal land rights movement.
19 Aug 2016 - 5:55 PM  UPDATED 19 Aug 2016 - 5:55 PM

The Freedom Festival is held each August between the anniversary of the Gurindji land handback on the 16th of August 1975 and the walk-off itself which occurred on the 23rd of August 1966.

The organisers of the event explain “we want to preserve what we had in the past, to keep it alive with this walk off festival. This is a significant event we have every year in August, the walk off opened up the gateway to land rights and fair wages basically.”

The annual celebration is a key event for the local communities to recognise the contribution of the Guringji, Mudbara and Walpiri people and with the big anniversary this year they are inviting the whole of Australia, both non-Indigenous and Indigenous, to celebrate together.


The Festival will be kicked off on Friday with the opening of the Wave Hill walk-off track, followed by a ceremony and picnic lunch. The celebrations will continue on into the night with a Jikjik (Come Out) concert featuring a Wajarra dance ceremony followed by music and fireworks.

The Wajarra are songs in the traditional Gurindji style that relate to modern events rather than the Dreaming. Two sets of Wajarra will be performed; the first are from the Mungamunga spirit women of Wave Hill station and are performed each year on Freedom Day and the second are composed by Yawulyurru Jangari (Japangardi), a Pintipi song man from Kintore, reflecting those sung in stock camps across Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

The rest of the weekend is sure to be busy with a cinema, art and photography exhibition, tours, a sports carnival and a series of forums discussing everything from politics, to collective activism to education and protecting country today.

The Partiki tent, in the spirit of the Partiki tree where meetings were had during the strike, will host interviews with those involved in the Gurindji walk-off and those who have been inspired by it in their own creativity whether through documentaries, music or art.

The music will also continue with special guests three-time ARIA winner Dan Sultan, Neil Murray of the Warumpi band and Shane Howard, a founding member of Goanna headlining a spectacular line-up of local performers.

NITV will be on the ground to cover the action with special reports for ‘The Point’ next week.