• A two day Kunjiel (Corroboree) closed the Quandamooka Festival over the weekend. (NITV)Source: NITV
Tourists to Stradbroke Island - or Minjerribah, as it's known to the Quandamooka people - are getting a deeper understanding of local Aboriginal culture thanks to the Quandamooka Festival.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

25 Sep 2017 - 7:03 PM  UPDATED 25 Sep 2017 - 7:03 PM

Around 800,000 tourists visit Stradbroke Island each year, but until recently, they've known little about the local Aboriginal history and culture. 

Now, that's changing thanks to the Quandamooka Festival - a mammoth three-month event celebrating Quandamooka culture, country and people, which wrapped up with a Kunjiel (Corroboree) this weekend. 

The festival began three years ago, realising a dream for local Elders. 

"Our Elders are being more trustful of revealing ancient stories and places, and we're revitalising our language for place names," says Quandamooka woman Avril Quail, the curator of the festival.

"We're finding through the festival itself that visitors that possibly have been coming to north Straddie for decades, are now finding something more that they didn't know about the place, and it is adding to the richness and understanding of place."

It's part of a "Quandamooka renaissance", according to Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) CEO Cameron Costello. 

"We got our native title in 2011, and part of that is being able to put on the festival - not only to educate the broader public about what's the Quandamooka native title, what's the Quandamooka rights and responsibilities for caring for country, but also to really celebrate and reinvigorate our cultural practice," Mr Costello says. 

The festival is also helping to heal wounds opened during what some describe as a "traumatic" native title process. 

"It created a lot of conflict in the community that wasn't there, it was unnecessary, but it happens - people bump into themselves," says QYAC chairperson Dr Valerie Cooms.

"I think the festival has managed to bring people back together. Because it's been six years, but it's still a hard, hard, struggle."

The event is also building ties with other First Nations groups in Australia and abroad, featuring performers from Vanuatu, West Papua and the Torres Strait Islands.  

The Yarrabah dancers have become a regular fixture at the event, honouring a connection from the 1900s when the Quandamooka would make nets to help the Yarrabah people catch dugongs. 

"We're very proud of that connection... that's part of history and we would like to keep that strengthening us, our ties with each other," says Yarrabah Songman Errol Neal.  

It's hoped those connections will help the festival grow and prosper into the future. 

Follow NITV's Queensland Correspondent, Ella Archibald-Binge on Twitter.  

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