Longer festival a deeper experience
Beneath the orange hues of a rising moon, traditional owners Maitland Parker, Alec Tucker and Wayne Stevens sang in their language as more than 300 guests listened in the stunning surrounds of Karijini National Park.
It was a breathtaking moment that summed up the Karijini Experience for 2016 — a perfect blend of culture and nature coming together for a week of activities lauded by the hordes of people who made the trip to the park for the festival.
The fourth instalment of the Karijini Experience was like starting over again, as organisers took a leap of faith in turning the weekend event into an eight-day “cultural immersion”.
Nintirri Centre chief executive and festival organiser Sarah Kemp said hosting the experience over eight days had turned the event into something special.
“We have been blown away by the numbers of people who have been going to all the events,” she said.
“The most touching moments I have seen involve children. To see them learning and getting involved is amazing.
“We have had such an incredible team of volunteers, sponsors and staff to pull this all together, everyone has put in 200 per cent.”
Talking to people in the park revealed the true scale of the festival, with patrons highlighting various events from the culinary experience and Opera in the Gorge to the family-friendly IMF Deadly Fun Run and kids’ art workshops.
Banjima elder Mr Parker said being involved in the Karijini Experience had been a great pleasure.
“A lot of people still ask me where I come from and where I live, and when I tell them I belong to the country here, I’m born here — they’re very jealous,” he said.
“From when it first started as a dinner four years ago to this, it shows you what can be done and achieved in bringing people together.
“It was just a central place to give the people something, to understand our own cultures and
what keeps us very strong.”
Mr Parker singled out Wayne Steven’s artefacts, Patrick Churnside’s storytelling and Deborah Cheetham’s work with the children as highlights of his week.
IBN corporation chairwoman Lorraine Injie said the group was pleased with the increase in indigenous participation and engagement.
“I think the highlight for me, as with many people, would have had to be the opening of the experience, where the Banjima people were able to share parts of our culture that normally isn’t open to the public,” she said.
“Whenever there is an opportunity for Aboriginal people throughout the Pilbara to engage and participate in the wider community and share the cultural and linguistic heritage, I think they should start to take up those opportunities.
“It’s more than an opportunity for our elders to pass on their knowledge to the younger people, but also to share that with the wider community and people are very much embracing it.”
Ms Kemp said the week-long school holiday festival format was likely here to stay for future years.
The Moonrise Lounge plays beneath a sky devoid of city lights.
Diane Bartlett's shot of Karijini National Park during Tom Putt's photography workshops.
Alec Tucker, Wayne Stevens and Maitland Parker sing together as the moon rises in Karijini National Park.
Frank Yamma was a highlight for many at the Moonrise Lounge.