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Where to Celebrate NAIDOC Week 2019 in Sydney

Celebrate the culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples with free lunchtime films, immersive exhibitions and kangaroo pies.
By Gemma Plunkett
July 08, 2019

Where to Celebrate NAIDOC Week 2019 in Sydney

Celebrate the culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples with free lunchtime films, immersive exhibitions and kangaroo pies.
By Gemma Plunkett
July 08, 2019


Celebrate the culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples with free lunchtime films, immersive exhibitions and kangaroo pies.

Australia's annual week-long celebration of the history, achievements and diverse culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is back this July. Running from July 7–14, this year's festivities are centred around the theme of 'Voice. Treaty. Truth.', coinciding with the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.

During the week, the city will be united with fairs, art shows, parties and performances showcasing Indigenous Australian culture and highlighting the strength, power and importance of its past, present and future. And many of them are free — from lunchtime screenings to public installations — so it's a great chance to enjoy our country's diverse culture without spending a cent.

The celebration of Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander culture isn't just restricted to this week, either. To continue learning about, and celebrating one of the oldest cultures on the planet, you can watch shows and documentaries on SBS's National Indigenous Television, join the conversation at Aboriginal-led website Common Ground and visit local Indigenous art centres.

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    Former NADIOC Artist of the Year, A.Professor Wayne Quilliam is celebrating the 2019 NAIDOC week theme of ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth.’ with his exciting new installation at Darling Quarter.

    The installation, dubbed Instaculture, consists of four huge display cubes with 16 artworks each measuring over two square metres. Looking at the coexistence of nature and culture, Quilliam uses photographs and text to take the audience deep into the hypnotic graphics of the Australian landscape. Textures found in nature are emphasised in the works, exploring the six seasons of the Aboriginal Australian culture through the digital imagery of earth, sky and water.

    When walking around these vibrant installations take time to look at the decals in front of each image, they contain a traditional piece of text with its English translation and the Aboriginal language it comes from.

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    The mini-festival that is Klub Koori is always a highlight of NAIDOC Week. Taking place on Saturday, July 13, it promotes the talents of established and young Indigenous Australian artists to a large and diverse audience while also advocating for a broader appreciation of Indigenous arts and culture. For $15, you can expect a great mix of hard-hitting beats and sultry tones across the night, with things kicking off at 7:30pm.

    This year’s lineup is coming from the artists of Bad Apples Music, created by one half of the A.B Original duo, Adam Briggs. As far as we know for now Briggs himself isn’t on the list, but a whole heap of upcoming Indigenous Australian talent is.

    NT rapper BIRDZ, Nowra-born Yuin man Nooky and award-winning MC Philly are all set to take the stage. Locals Gamilaroi artist Koibe Dee and R&B singer Rebecca Hatch will also join the party.

    Organiser Koori Radio 97.3FM has been on-air since 1993, offering listeners a ‘live and deadly’ cultural mix of Australian and International Indigenous music interspersed with discussions on news, current affairs and community information.

    Image: Klub Koori by Daniel Boud

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    There’s something secretive and special about slipping into an art gallery after hours. Add a few laughs and a glass of wine, and it’s pretty difficult to imagine a more seductive reason to get out of your house for the night.

    Running on Wednesday, July 10, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is hosting a series of late-night events as part of NAIDOC Week — a week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements.

    The highlight of the night, kicking off at 6.30pm, is the talk by Zenadth Kes man Thomas Mayor on the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Mayor will be discussing what the Uluru Statement is and why it’s important to the future of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples.

    There are plenty of other events on throughout the night, too, including a one-hour live performance from husband and wife duo Microwave Jenny at 7:30pm, and guided tours of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander collection at 6pm and 7:15pm.

    The late-night events start from 5.30pm on Wednesday July 10, to see the full details of the evenings events visit the Art Gallery NSW website.

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    The Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting two free lunchtime movie screenings for NAIDOC Week.

    They kick off on Tuesday, July 9, with No Way to Forget a film based on Richard Frankland’s time as a field officer during the 1988 Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The 1996 film takes you on a dark isolated drive while flashbacks tell his haunted recollections.

    After this, stay to watch Transblack: a 2018 miniseries taking you through the lives of four Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander transgender men and women. The ten-minute episodes show the journey of the individuals who all change the perceptions of themselves and the people closest to them.

    On Thursday, July 11 you can see the 2016 film Servant or Slave, following the lives of five women who, after being stolen from their families, were forced into lives as domestic slaves. This heartbreaking film represents the stories of thousands of Aboriginal Australian girls who were taken at a young age. The film explores the courageous nature of these women as they grow up searching for justice.

    Viewings for both films start at 12.30pm in the MCA Lecture Theatre on Level 2 and no bookings are required. The free lunchtime screens are part of the gallery’s week-long NAIDOC celebration.

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    The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is celebrating this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth.’ with a program of daily (and free!) lunchtime workshops throughout the week. also the perfect excuse to take your full lunch break and take advantage of the sunny forecast ahead while celebrating Aboriginal culture.

    On Monday you’ll be able to learn a few tips on traditional weaving, while Tuesday will get you up and moving at a music and dance workshop. On Wednesday you can learn a bit about traditional tools and weapon, and Thursday will let you get a bit dirty with ochre (and see how it’s used with traditional dance). Finish up on Friday with an art class on the Palace Garden Gate lawn just off Macquarie Street.

    You don’t have to book in for the workshops — just rock up and join in. If you work in the city, they’re a great (and free) way to get involved in NAIDOC Week, celebrate the history, achievements and diverse culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and learn something new. Plus, the forecast is looking good for this week.

    The workshops will run from midday until 1pm each day this week.

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    One of the biggest events of the week is NAIDOC in the City, which invites Sydneysiders down to Hyde Park for a day of festivities from 11am–3pm on Saturday, July 13. The event is a sensory delight (seriously). Underground earth ovens will be temporarily installed in the park, cooking up slow-cooked samplers of everything from crocodile san choy bau and kangaroo chilli pies.

    You’ll get to catch loads of music and performances including hip-hop duo Nooky and Koibe Dee, electro-pop group The Merindas, performances from the Muggera dancers and loads more. While you’re there, visit weaving and jewellery-making workshops or go check out the art gallery curated by Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-Op and APY Art Centre Collective. There will also be a range of market stalls showcasing arts, crafts and books.

    Image: Joseph Mayers


Top image: Instaculture by Wayne Quilliam.

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