The best in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music

Saltwater Freshwater Festival

Some major Indigenous talent is lining up to play at the 2013 Saltwater Freshwater Festival in Taree on 26 January, including the legendary band Coloured Stone, hip-hop favourites The Last Kinection and crowd-pleasers The Medics.

Saltwater Freshwater is the largest Aboriginal cultural event on the Mid North Coast – where the saltwater and freshwater meet. It is a nomadic event, moving to a different location along that stretch of coast each year.

The festival is the brainchild of the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance – governed by 10 Local Aboriginal Land Councils from Karuah to Coffs Harbour – and it features exhibitions and workshops relating to the range of arts and cultural activities undertaken by the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance during the year.

This is the fourth year the festival has been run. Festival Organiser Kristin Collier says Saltwater Freshwater is about coming together on Australia Day and sharing Aboriginal culture through music, dance, food, conversations and family fun.

“The festival purposefully embraces our national day as a time to join together in celebrating the Saltwater Freshwater Aboriginal culture of our region in a positive and inclusive family environment that everyone can enjoy,” Kristin says.

“An amazing feature will be the premiere of a dance piece that has been developed by the Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance and people from NAISDA (the National Aboriginal and Islander Development Association Dance College), as well as people from all along the coast.

“There will also be a host of cultural projects including canoe building. There will be hands-on workshops for people to build mini canoes, which will be incorporated into the closing of the festival where people will be invited to join in as canoes are floated onto the Manning River. It will be visually spectacular and culturally significant because water is such an important part of Aboriginal culture throughout the north coast.”

Kristin described the main stage line-up as “phenomenal”.

“Musically there is a phenomenal line-up of Aboriginal acts. The Medics will be playing the Big Day Out, then flying up to play at the festival on the same day. Legendary band Coloured Stone are playing, as well as The Last Kinection.

“Also performing is Sue Ray, an emerging Aboriginal artist, who has just got back from Nashville, and then there’s Buddy Knox – Australia’s answer to BB King. The Jay Davis trio are a local combination of musicians.”

Taree is a regional centre on the Mid North Coast of NSW, within the Biripi Nation. It was once a town divided, with a river between the Aboriginal mission on the south bank, and the predominantly white town on the north. Nowadays, Taree has a strong Aboriginal community with a lot to share and be proud of.

“On Australia Day 2013, the Saltwater Freshwater Festival will work to continue to unite what was once divided in a positive day of celebration. The festival is built around local Aboriginal culture, and much of that involves working with the community to showcase the talents, history, language and lifestyle of the region,” Kristin says.

The inaugural festival was held in Coffs Harbour in 2010 and 12,000 people attended. It won the Community Event of the Year Award at the Coffs Harbour Australia Day Awards in 2011. The Festival is a drug-and-alcohol-free event and an uplifting place to spend Australia Day in a welcoming, entertaining and inclusive environment.

Saltwater Freshwater Festival 2013 is on 26 January, 10am–7pm, in Queen Elizabeth and Fotheringham Parks, Taree. Entry by gold-coin donation.

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