Visitors from surrounding communities, interstate and overseas are welcomed to the remote Aboriginal community of Bamyili, where the festival first took place in 1985, instigated by the leader of the Bagala clan, Bangardi Lee.
Held for 3 days over the Queens Birthday long weekend each year, Barunga Festival is attended by over 4000 people with the majority coming from other Indigenous communities. Skinnyfish are producing the event and Managing Director Mark Grose said that it's this time of year that the plans are amped up and the community is getting excited. "Preparations have moved up a gear since beginning of March. All headline acts have been confirmed and the infrastructure for the festival is now being finalised. The local community are always excited at this time of year in expectation of the Festival and the Skinnyfish office gets inundated with phone calls from across the NT from bands wanting to perform."
Grose says that the festival is a unique chance to be both spectator and participant. "The Barunga Festival is a unique event it is not only a music festival but it is an Indigenous cultural Festival and a sports carnival in which festival attendees are invited to participate if they wish. Barunga is a massive positive social event that brings Indigenous community people together with non-Indigenous mostly city dwellers."
'In 1988, Barunga was the site of Aboriginal leaders coming together and presenting Prime Minister Bob Hawke with the Barunga Statement which called for a treaty. Prime Minister Hawke signed the statement in his visit to the Festival but sadly, it was never brought before Parliament. Yothu Yindi went on to write the worldwide hit ‘Treaty’ as a result of this gathering at the Barunga Festival'
This year's line up features Missy Higgins, Bunna Lawrie, Skinnyfish Sound System as well as a special appearance by Justine Clarke who will perform with students from the Barunga School and Coloured Stone who will be celebrating their 40-year anniversary. Another 15 bands from across the Territory will also take the stage including B2M, The Lonely Boys and more.
The sports program is inclusive and will see over 45 teams from across the Northern Territory to Central Australia and Queensland coming together to participate in Australian Rules, basketball and softball in a mix of teams ranging from the more competitive to family friendly.
The community are looking forward to welcoming visitors and especially seeing the line up of talented artists who are first time performers or coming back to visit. "The Barunga music line up is unique in that it always has community musicians performing, legends from the past and some of Australia’s leading mainstream musicians. We are excited by this line up because it offers something for every age group. Missy Higgins has collaborated with Gurrumul previously and there is a possibility of them appearing again together."
For more information and plan a trip to Barunga Festival head here.