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NAIDOC in the snow

Official NAIDOC celebrations are held in most parts of Australia in July, but due to the harsh winter conditions in the Snowy Mountains, Ngarigo Elders decided to hold the event in September.

Bathed in spring sunshine and nestled at the base of snow-capped mountains, the town of Jindabyne played host to the NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) event for the Ngarigo and Monaro peoples on 22 September.

The day’s festivities were held on the shores of Lake Jindabyne in the new amphitheatre as Elders related stories of their land and birthright in the area.  Activities such as boomerang throwing, making ochre paints and basket weaving intrigued many of the non-Indigenous community members and some overseas visitors.

Elders Aunty Deanna Davison and Aunty Rae Solomon Stewart both gave a heartfelt Welcome to Country.

“No matter where you travel, or where you go, as soon as you come back here the spirits are so strong and they welcome you to this country and things always seem to go right. I love this country so much,” said the nearly 80-year-old matriarch, Aunty Rae.

Peter Swain led the Welcome to Country with a yidaki recital and later captivated the audience, as part of a trio, along with National Parks and Wild Life Services Ranger Shane Herrington and Philadelphian Ahren Spielvogel.

Performer Dale Huddlestone, who was also joined by Brad Cox, serenaded the crowd, making NAIDOC in the snow a unique celebration of Aboriginal people in the Snowy Mountains region.

Organisers hope the event will become a larger demonstration of the acknowledgement of Aboriginal connection to country and an opportunity for more people to learn the heritage of the area from the original people.

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