Announcing Australia's Newest Aboriginal Festival - Giiyong Festival

The inaugural Giiyong Festival on 22 September, will be a celebration of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture, and a unique event for the south east region of NSW.

Twofold Aboriginal Corporation, Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council and South East Arts are working together to present this one day multi-arts festival at Jigamy, just north of Eden.

Giiyong Festival will be the first event of its type held within the Yuin Nation, which stretches from the Shoalhaven River down into East Gippsland in Victoria and across to the Great Dividing Range.

Giiyong (pronounced Guy-Yoong) means 'come to welcome' in the South Coast language as spoken by the Elders.

Alison Simpson, Program Manager from Twofold Aboriginal Corporation says, “The festival will provide an opportunity for everyone to participate, experience and share in the diversity of Aboriginal culture."

Some of the most exciting Aboriginal performers in Australia will take the stage at Giiyong Festival, including powerful headline acts No Fixed Address and Baker Boy. The program is being updated daily as more acts are being added to the bill.

Above: No Fixed Address, based in South Australia, have not only performed with Cold Chisel but also with INXS, Men At Work, Midnight Oil, Goanna Band, Redgum, and Mental As Anything but also with international acts Peter Tosh, The Clash, Ian Drury and Taj Mahal.

No Fixed Address came together in 1979, influenced by punk music and hard-rock outfits such as Deep Purple and Kiss, this seminal band from Adelaide has gone on to earn a place in Australia’s musical history as the first Aboriginal band to break into the mainstream music.

Fresh from a recent national tour and on the eve of release of a new album, No Fixed Address will bring incredible history and spirit to Giiyong Festival. They paved the way for many young artists, showing them they too could follow their musical dreams.

Above: Yorta Yorta singer/songwriter Benny Walker is the real deal. His love songs and epic tales are mixed with passion for people, the land, summer vibes and deep grooves that reach the soul.

Above: Mission Songs Project faithfully explores the musical journey of Indigenous Australian music as Jessie Lloyd connects the traditional with contemporary, revealing the continuation of cultural practice and song traditions into the 21st Century. Image by Prudence Upton.

Above: Alison Walker from Wallaga Lake has been honing her performance skills through Grow the Music programs offered by South East Arts. She will perform at Giiyong Festival on 22 September. Image by Grow the Music.

Above: South Coast’s Djaadjawan Dancers, finalists at Dance Rites and now in demand nationwide, will perform at Giiyong Festival. Image by Shannon Mason.

Above: In Arnhem Land they call Baker Boy the ‘fresh new prince’. His totem is the Olive Python, his moiety is Dhuwa and his skin is Burralung/Gela boy.

Danzal Baker – aka Baker Boy – delivers high energy rap and dance with cultural reflections while putting his Yolngu language front and centre of his music. Baker Boy’s single Marryuna is played on high rotation on radio stations across Australia. His energetic show will headline at the Festival and he will also present a dance workshop.

Other visiting artists will include Benny Walker, Jessie Lloyd and Frank Yamma. They will be joined by professional artists from the region such as Gabadoo, CJ Leon, Chelsy Atkins, Warren Foster, Robbie Bundle and Driftin’ Doolgahls.

South East Arts, the not-for-profit regional arts development organisation for the south east, are working on community engagement projects in the lead up to the Festival. These include original song writing and hip hop video projects with the Grow the Music team and Bega and Eden Marine High Schools. South East Arts have also engaged musicians Chelsy Atkins and Corinne Gibbons to work with local primary schools to produce a very special performance for the Festival.

At the Giiyong Festival people can experience a variety of cultural workshops including weaving, shellwork, cooking, wood burning, bush medicine and more. Dance performances, cultural ceremonies, films, visual and art and history exhibitions will take place throughout the day.

Giiyong Festival is a unique chance for the entire community to come together and celebrate, absorb and explore Aboriginal culture. The festival is a culmination of five years of work by South East Arts to support the development of Aboriginal creative producers and performers in the region.

The festival site, Jigamy, is a well-known property between Pambula and Eden on the pristine Sapphire Coast, owned and managed by Twofold Aboriginal Corporation and is the home to the Monaroo Boberrer Gudu Keeping Place. Twofold Aboriginal Corporation delivers many services to the local Aboriginal community and are one of the largest employers of Aboriginal staff in the region.

Aboriginal artists, craftspeople and creative producers are invited to register their interest in having a stall in the Giiyong Arts Market at the Festival. Food vendors are also asked to register on the website.

Nathan Lygon, one of the Festival’s Cultural Advisors says, “This is the first festival of its kind for the south east, and certainly the first festival of its nature for Eden and Jigamy.”

“The idea is to bring community together from all over, to celebrate the wonders of Aboriginal culture through music and art,” said Mr Lygon

The Giiyong Festival team is also calling for people who are interested in volunteering at the festival to go to the Festival website and register their interest. Volunteers are needed for a number of roles including patron services, site decoration, exhibition monitors, setup and pack down and more. Volunteers will undertake cultural awareness training before the Festival.

Thanks to funding and donor support, entry to the Giiyong Festival will be free. The Festival project, to date, has received support from Create NSW through the Regional Partnerships Fund and Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund, NSW Local Lands Services, Festivals Australia, Destinations NSW, Katungul Aboriginal Health Service, Waterway Constructions and Bega Valley Shire Council.

Ongoing support is still being sought to make the Festival even better, anyone interested in assisting is encouraged to contact South East Arts.

Keep up to date with what’s going on at the Giiyong Festival website and follow Giiyong Festival on Instagram and Facebook.

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