• Event organisers hope they can soon hand the event back. (NITV News)
As the Barunga Festival continues to thrive, organisers hope in a few years the Jawoyn people can take back ownership of the event.
By
Madeline Hayman-Reber

Source:
NITV News
11 Jun 2019 - 2:23 PM  UPDATED 11 Jun 2019 - 2:23 PM

Over 4000 people attended the Northern Territory's famous Barunga Festival over the June long weekend to experience the community's art, culture, music and food.

This year's lineup included local headline acts Mambali, Wagilak and Nabarlek, while Taiwanese musician Sang Mei-Chaun came all the way for home country to perform for a captivated audience.

Workshops included everything from spear making and throwing, to crafting didgeridoos and basketweaving. Some also tried their hand at baking traditional damper.

Three different sports were played over the course of the weekend - softball, football, and basketball, and on the first night the kids went wild for the much anticipated annual disco.

This year also marked 31 years since the historic Barunga Statement was given to then Prime Minister Bob Hawke who promised a Treaty.

Speakers including NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy acknowledged the lack of action on the promise during the official opening.

“We have unfinished business, this country we all call home knows there is unfinished business. Truth, Treaty, Reconciliation are powerful words, but even more powerful when we follow it with our spirit and we have to do that,” Senator McCarthy said.

"We must do that for the future of all Australians, for the young people who are coming through who want to know so much more about our country history, who want to be proud about our country’s future.

“To each and every one of you here, take the time with your spirit and the spirit of this country and take that home with you and spread that message right across this country that we have unfinished business and we can do it together.”

The festival's success continues to grow and event organisers Skinnyfish Music hope to eventually see the Jawoyn community be able to take over the event.

“It’s been going for 34 years," Creative Director of Skinnyfish Music, Michael Hohnen said. "It got to a stage where it was looking close to collapse, and the Government spoke to us about five or six years ago and said could you come and take over,"

“So [we] said we’d bring it back to a one day festival and regroup and his vision has been to turn it into more of a family friendly, healthy lifestyle festival and to attract people from everywhere, representing the Jawoyn in the process, and working with the community and the committee.

“We’d love for it to be really stable and to be handed back to the community in 5 years time. We’ve talked to some TOs and things about that. That would be our dream, to have it has this incredible festival that we can hand back to the local community.”

Barunga festival announces music line up for 2019
This year Barunga's music stage will host three-generations of Gambaynggirr musicians, as well as a guest artist from Taiwan.