The inaugural Boomerang Festival took place over the long weekend in the beautiful setting of Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm in Byron Bay-Arakwal Bundjalung land.
Over 5000 people experienced a ‘new world Indigenous festival’ that celebrates the music, dance and traditions from Indigenous Australia and across the world. It’s an experience those of us who were there will never forget.
Day one: We were greeted by the funky reggae rhythms of dreadlocked Chilean Quieue Neira on the main stage – one of the great international acts on the roster. We then headed to the Dance Grounds, an open sand circle where the audience was able to get up close to dance troupes from around Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Islands. We were introduced to one of the stars of the festival, a 5 year old dancer with the Torres Strait Malu Kiai Mura buai dance troupe.
The deadly Move It Mob Style dancers were up next and they had young and old up and dancing to a great routine. Next up on the main stage was popular duo Busby Marou, who played some of their hit songs then treated us to some new material off their latest album ‘Farewell Fitzroy’.
The whole festival then gathered at the Dance Grounds again, just as the sun was setting, to watch the opening ceremony. This was a truly moving experience; the crowd was completely silent and were all touched by the haunting sounds of a traditional song of the Arakwal people. At the end of the ceremony, the Move it Mob Style team got us all up once more to perform a ‘flash mob’ – definitely one of the highlights for all festival-goers.
The fantastic night was rounded off by wonderful performances by Archie Roach and Wantok: Sing Sing.
Day two: The biggest crowd of the festival gather for more fantastic performances on the Dance Grounds, talks with Indigenous chefs, Mark Olive and Clayton Donovan and comedy with Sean Choolburra to name only a few of the great experiences. It was also a star studded line up on the main stage with Shellie Morris, Dr Gondarra with Xavier Rudd, The Medics and Gurrumul closing the night to an enthralled audience.
The final day: We were once again treated to some fantastic traditional dance; Tammie Anderson’s moving one woman show ‘I Don’t Wanna Play House’ and fantastic performances by Slip on Stereo, John Williamson with special guest Warren H Williams, Oka and Moana and the Tribe among others.
The crowd then gathered once more at the Dance Grounds for the closing ceremony, which again was a moving experience.
All in all, Boomerang was a hit with festival-goers and will surely become a favourite on the Australian festival calendar for years to come.