Each year Canberrans join together to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture as part of NAIDOC Week.
Events run across the territory, filling everywhere from the National Arboretum Canberra to Gunghalin Town Centre with wonder and awe.
Scott Saddler, Senior Director National Arboretum Canberra and a proud Wiradjuri man, reflects that “‘NAIDOC week is very important to me as it encourages everyone to recognise Indigenous history and the opportunity to display our culture. NAIDOC week also showcases 60,000 years of Australia’s first people culture and enables us to teach the wider communities about our culture.”
There’s never been a better time to visit the Bush Tucker Garden at the Arboretum. Featuring local bush tucker plants, Scott says these gardens are “a wonderful place for reflection and also provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about indigenous foods, medicine and fibres that have sustained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the millenniums.”
Explore the Arboretum further and discover the dreamtime story of Mununja the Butterfly woven into the Gallery of Gardens using native plants, landscape features and grasses. The garden is a space for education as well as to sit, reflect and connect.
NAIDOC weeks runs 7-14 July, but celebrations continue throughout the month of July. Here are a few more events and quintessential Canberra locations that are sure to nurture and grow your understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history.
Belconnen Community Gallery
See inspiring artworks by Leah Brideson, a descendant of the Kamilaroi people from the Gunnedah region. This self-taught artist encapsulated the raw energy of the changing landscape of her home town.
Boffin goes bush
11 July, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Bush peppers, Kurrajong seeds, Peppermint gum and other native plants are on the menu at this dinner to remember. Adam Shipp, a local Indigenous gardener, will provide valuable insights on native foods, medicine and growing your own bush foods as you indulge in five dishes, each more delicious than the last.
12 July & 14 July, times vary
National Film and Sound Archive
Grab some popcorn and get ready to enter the world of two inspirational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander figures, Adam Goodes and Ella Havelka.
The Final Quarter, the cinematic story of a Sydney Swans player who left the game when crowds turned on him, will be screened followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion.
Later in the week Ella, a film following the career of an acclaimed indigenous dancer who became the first Aboriginal dancer to join the Australian Ballet in its 50-year history, will be shown accompanied by a Q+A session.
NAIDOC in the North
13 July, 11am – 2pm
Gungahlin Town Square
NAIDOC in the North is a celebration of the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through songs, stories, dance, art and ceremony. Everyone is welcome at this free, family-friendly event which will also feature children’s activities, drop-in workshops and entertainment throughout the day.
Bangarra 30th anniversary season
Canberra Theatre Centre
As Australia’s only major performing arts company with its origins in the land, Bangarra is inspired by 65,000 years of culture and the continual evolution of Indigenous storytelling. Proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from all over Australia come together as a creative clan to harness a shared spirit. The result is Bangarra’s powerful dance language, and utterly unique soundscapes, music and design.
Doll and animal making workshop
20 July, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Australian Parliament House
Join Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Jordan, a Kalkadoon woman from Mt Isa to make a figure using traditional, contemporary and recycled materials. Suitable for ages 5 to 12.
Traditional weaving workshop
20 July, 2pm-4pm
Australian Parliament House
Join Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Jordan, a Kalkadoon woman from Mt Isa and learn traditional weaving techniques and make your own bracelet or basket. Suitable for ages 12 and up.
The Astronomy and navigation of Aboriginal Australians
20 July, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Manning Clark Hall, ANU
Aboriginal people in Australia have a rich astronomical tradition such as the “Emu in the Sky” constellation of dark clouds, and stories about the Sun, Moon, and stars, revealing a great depth and complexity of ancient Aboriginal cultures. Learn about the songs and stories show that Aboriginal Australians sought to understand the universe.