GARMA Festival

Our 34 students and 10 staff enjoyed a trip to Yirrkala school with lots of engagement with the local students. Impressed with the art gallery and the landscape, great celebration ensued with the opening of a beautiful new Knowledge Centre back at Garma (30 minutes from Gove airport on the escarpment). The collection of one bag of footie boots and balls were very gratefully received at the school.

A day of robust discussion and youth forum activities, enriched by Bungu (traditional tribal dances and song lines) weaved a fabric of cultural celebration. The group loved the music, the dancing with lots of local Yolngu children, the art gallery in the gums, and the astronomy of the Milky Way. We were all excited with Bob Hawke being a special guest, with lots of snaps!! We also love Jack Thomson, and a number of other leading figures. The special welcome from Galarrwuy Yunupingu and other TLOs was very much appreciated and we felt so privileged.

Noel Pearson received a standing ovation and Andrew Forest presented his review report. We had several Federal ministers and shadow ministers address us.PM sent a message that he would be visiting in September. Bill Shorten arrived today and addressed the forum.

One of our highlights was Tony Jones who then led a panel and Brittany Cooper excelled herself with her questioning.

Last night we had a practice run for Q&A which will be broadcast from here- it was great fun, as only the youth were invited for the rehearsal. The whole staging is amazing! Others dabbled in basket making and shaping spears. Overall, our students have been very positive, adapting superbly and mixing well across the board! In fact, doing us very proud!

Our group has embarked on the immersion visits to Wurrumiyanga, Bathurst Island and Milikapiti Melville Island. The students and staff really contributed by helping in the class room and then conducting activities. The whole experience has broadened relationships and understanding. Each visit was enhanced by cultural activities and engagement with local art & history. We were very grateful to local hosts and our presentation of footy boots, balls, sporting gear, toothpaste and toothbrushes, was very much appreciated. Exploring Territory terrain with a visit to Lichfield National Park provided an insight into the environmental jewels of the NT. As we heard and experienced at GARMA, cultural and environmental tourism is a very sustainable economic pathway.”

Ann Rebgetz