Stone Country Festival – Gunbalanya
Every August the community of Gunbalanya opens its doors to the wider Territory community for the Stone Country Festival. This is the only day everyone is welcome in the town without a permit from the Northern Land Council. The Festival celebrates the spectacular natural setting of the town, nestled between the impressive Arnhem Land escarpments and sweeping floodplains, as well as celebrating the local Aboriginal culture. There’s plenty of local food, sports, arts and craft and cultural activities on offer, and the festival is one of the highlights of the Territory community festival calendar.
Also known as Oenpelli, Gunbalanya is a large Aboriginal town situated about 60kms north east of Jabiru, across the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land.
The area around Gunbalanya is known as Stone Country, a name inspired by the spectacular Arnhem Land escarpment and rock formations that emerge from the floodplains surrounding the town.
The township of Gunbalanya was first settled by the pioneering Paddy Cahill, who established a farm in the region in the early 1900s. A mission was later established in the 1920s. These days Gunbalanya has a population of approximately 1200, and the main language spoken is Kunwinjku.
The main road link out of Gunbalanya to Jabiru (and on to Darwin) often closes during the wetter months as the East Alligator River becomes impassable. The town is, however, serviced by a tarmac airstrip.
West Arnhem Shire Council provides a range of essential services in Gunbalanya, including the provision of power, water and housing maintenance on behalf of government agencies; sport, recreation and youth programs; employment programs; community safety and community services.
West Arnhem College also operates in Gunbalanya, providing schooling from preschool-year 12, and the town also has an arts centre, supermarket, service station and licensed community sports club.
Jamalak Festival – Warruwi
Every August the residents of South Goulburn Island and West Arnhem Land converge on Warruwi for Jamalak Festival. The Festival celebrates the people, culture and history of Warruwi, including the original Aboriginal inhabitants, the establishment of a settlement on the island in 1916 by Reverend Watson, through to today’s vibrant community culture. Reverend Watson arrived in Gunbalanya in 1914, and two years later he ventured north to the Gouldburn Island, establishing a church there in 1916. Jamalak Festival is a unique community celebration including local sports, arts and cultural activities, food and festivities.
For more information about Jamalak Festival, contact West Arnhem Shire Council on 08 8979 0211.
Mahbilil Festival & Gurrung Sports Carnival – Jabiru
The Mahbilil Festival is the premier cultural event on Jabiru’s calendar, and brings together a range of local Aboriginal and balanda (non-Aboriginal Australian) arts and crafts, food stalls, entertainment, parades, market stalls and installations. It is run in conjunction with West Arnhem Shire Council’s Gurrung Sports Carnival, which brings men’s AFL and women’s basketball teams to Jabiru from all four Aboriginal communities in the Shire, as well as teams from Darwin and further afar. The Carnival showcases the incredible sporting talent of local residents and provides a platform for residents to participate in a healthy, safe carnival atmosphere.
Want to know what it’s like living in Jabiru? Jabiru is the major township in the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, about 250kms south east of Darwin.
Jabiru was established at its current site in 1982 to service the nearby Ranger uranium mine, and the town is now also both the heart of Kakadu, and the gateway to Arnhem Land.
The town provides visitors with access to a range of tourist and accommodation options, and a range of other services including access to fuel, dining options, automotive repairs, banking, a health clinic, a supermarket, and sport and recreation facilities including a 9-hole golf course.
West Arnhem Shire Council also operates a popular 50 metre swimming pool, library service, and a recreation park with playground and BBQ facilities on the shore of the picturesque Lake Jabiru.
West Arnhem College Jabiru campus is located in the town, and takes students from preschool to grade 12 from the town of Jabiru, and surrounding Aboriginal outstations and homelands.
Alice Desert Festival
The Alice Desert Festival is Central Australia’s premier arts and cultural festival, celebrating the desert and its rich cultural landscape.
The Alice Desert Festival shares the stories, songs and the unique lifestyle of Central Australia’s arid region. Featuring a vibrant program born out of the desert landscape, we celebrate the dynamic exchange between cultures in the heart of Australia. Artists, dancers and musicians from some of the remotest communities in Central Australia perform beside a selection of Australia’s hottest acts.
The Festival is now in its 13th year and going strong.
Red Hot Arts Central Australia is working towards creating a Festival of national significance; a unique spectacle; a catalyst for new art forms borne from the desert. Rare, unequalled performances in a festival of difference and diversity, incomparable to any other worldly festival; not in spite of location and climatic extremes, but because of them.
Red Hot Arts Central Australia (Opening hours – Mon, Wed, Thur, Fri 10am-4pm)
Telephone (08) 8952 2392
67 Bath St, Alice Springs NT
PO Box 2338 Alice Springs NT 0871
For more information visit the Festival Website
Application dates for 2014:
Project applications open September 2013
Performer applications open February 2014