• Yirramboi 5 - 14 May in Melbourne ((Facebook / Yirramboi))Source: (Facebook / Yirramboi)
Check out our top five not-to-be-missed events of this vibrant First Nations' festival.
Emily Nicol

5 May 2017 - 3:31 PM  UPDATED 5 May 2017 - 3:31 PM

A 10-day long celebration of First Nations' arts and culture begins today in Melbourne. Yirramboi - which means 'tomorrow' in both Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung languages from the Kulin Nations - is set to 'blakout' the city in an inspired program of over 60 events, pulled together by Creative Director Jacob Boehme.

The Yirramboi program will be ignited tonight, at the 'First Night' celebration, with a smoking ceremony to be carried out by respected elders ahead of a night of circus, dance, pop-up live art hosted by drag performer extraordinaire, Miss Ellaneous and featuring a performance from electro-soul duo, Electric Fields.

Running from 5 - 14 May, the 10 day program features a host of well-known and up-and-coming Indigenous artists from the music, dance, literary and academic, and environmental and cultural fields in a variety of events.

Many nations from both here and overseas will be showcasing and sharing their stories and art, with Samoa, UK, Zimbabwe and the US participating in the diverse programme. 

Held in several venues and within the wider communal city spaces, Yirramboi is an inclusive event, inviting all ages and cultures to come together, with many free events,  well-priced tickets and a special acknowledgement and consideration of Elders (their place as guides and guards of our communities). 

Creative Director, Jacob Boehme, a Narangga/Kaurna man, has carefully brought together this eclectic program. Not only is Yirramboi sharing stories and insights from a uniquely Indigenous perspective, but there are collaborations, a nod to luminaries and weekly lunch performances from some of our top musicians. The unique and wonderful idea of  fire-side yarning spaces to connect after shows to reflect and discuss ideas with fellow audience members, is hopefully something that will be taken up by other festivals as the chance to pause, reflect and integrate. 

Overall the program has a dynamic and celebratory feel, with treasure hunts, spotlight on Indigenous connection to the skies and astronomy, and live action role play.

Five not-to-be-missed events at Yirramboi


Remembering Ruby / Emma Donovan & The Putbacks - a tribute to Ruby Hunter 

'Aunty Ruby Hunter proudly wore a colourful, beaded and feathered headband. She said it represented ‘yesteryear, yesterday and today’. As Yirramboi looks to tomorrow we reflect on the path paved by strong Aboriginal women like Aunty Ruby Hunter.'

A series of events in Yirramboi reflects on the deep effect and legacy that strong Aboriginal women such as Aunty Ruby left on our own and wider communities. An exhibition, concert with songs performed by Emma Donovan and a children's art project will celebrate the life and spirit of this much loved luminary.

Event details for Remembering Ruby here
Event details for Emma Donovan & The Putbacks - a tribute to Ruby Hunter here


Chasing Smoke

'The spark that ignites the question “Who am I?” flickers inside us, but only some have the courage to pursue the answer.'

Chasing Smoke is a production by BLAKflip - a contemporary circus collective who will be giving a glimpse into culture, tradition, identity and land and how these are under threat. Offering a unique way of looking at how things are and could be.

Event details for Chasing Smoke here


ARYO: The Promise

This unique experience is for those ready to step out of the role of audience member and journey with others in live action role play.

'The premise: For thousand of years three very different tribes have claimed the sacred land of Aryobrimi (meaning “The Promised Land”). They have all made an Aryo (meaning “a promise”) to their ancestors that they will never stop fighting for it. Aryo (the promise) is about literally walking in the shoes of someone who is desperate to claim back their ancestor’s sacred land. The future of their tribe is in danger. It is time for action. How far will you go to claim back your land? What will you endure to protect your tribe? There will be no weapons or combat in this fight. Tonight, it is time to find new actions towards a resolution.'

Event details for ARYO here


Masanhu Kongoya (Weaving of the hatchets)

'... an examination of the societal tendency to shift blame – was inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 3, ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’.

A work that was created in Zimbabwe, Yirramboi is presenting a special triple-bill performance that will explore the result of ongoing political unrest in Africa  and the trauma and impacts on those living desperate lives in such a climate. 'Created as a response to the Zimbabwe land reform (grab) in 2000, which left the country divided according to skin colour, tribe and political affiliation.'

Event details for Nasanhu Kongoya here



One of several crucial conversations and reflections on gender and sexuality within society and Indigenous communities. 

'A place to gather, deepen and engage with Indigenous knowledges, Pōuliuli positions audiences in this moment of return to Indigenous genders, sexualities and ceremonial-political practices. This is an accessible and culturally safe space held by Indigenous peoples who identify with many ways of being and knowing including Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, queer, femme/feminine, and man/masculine.

Dark or deep night of potentiality in Sāmoan, Pōuliuli alludes to nocturnal ceremonial-political practices within vā, spaces of mutually beneficial relationships, providing ample space for Indigenous spoken, written, ritual and sensual languages to be activated.'

Event details for Pōuliuli here


 Yirramboi festival runs from the 5 -14 May. For all information and full program guide go here.

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