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Yabun – enjoyment for everyone

GADIGAL LAND: Yabun Festival is the largest one-day gathering and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia, held annually on January 26.

Established in 2003 by Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation, Yabun (“music to a beat”) is a free event that features live music, a bustling stalls market, children’s activities, traditional cultural performances, panel discussions and community forums on Aboriginal issues.

This year’s festival at Victoria Park, Broadway, followed a smoking ceremony at Barangaroo and Survival Day march from Belmore Park.

The musical line-up was outstanding. Meanjin-based songwriter Tia Gostelow performed a sparkling set of folk and disco-pop tunes, drawing from her brilliant Thick Skin (2018) and Chrysalis (2020) albums. DRMNGNOW (Neil Morris), with guest vocalist Emma Donovan, brought high energy, and calls for liberation and justice.

Trawlwoolway woman Denni Proctor performed with partner Greeley. Awarded Tasmanian Aboriginal Artist of the Year (2020), Denni released her third EP, Growing Pains, in 2021, as well as an impressive run of singles and collaborations including “Strongest Mob” (ft. Craig Everett & Greeley)”, “Gumption”, “My Nita” and “Tapiliti Mapali” (ft. Craig Everett & Greeley) in 2022.

Aodhan (Aidan Whitehall) performed with garage rock band Floodway. Based in Wollongong, the 18-year-old continues to develop as a songwriter and vocalist. His set included lively renditions of hit singles “Butterflies”, “Twelve Again” and “Daily Meditation”.

Robert K. Champion presented Manta Milmilpa, haunting guitar music and compelling songs of life, love and loss. Blanche (John Grant), Maurial Spearim, Kyarna Rose and Matty Walker completed the bill – all worth checking out and supporting.

The Corroboree Ground was in front of the Yabun Stage, an arrangement that worked well to showcase dance groups Ngaran Ngaran, Harbour Beizam, Buuja Buuja Butterfly and Redfern-based Brolga Dance Academy.

Props to Koori Radio 93.7FM, emcees Aunty Marlene Cummins and Damien House, festival artist Munkimuk, volunteers and crew, stallholders, sponsors and partners including City of Sydney, University of Sydney, Inner West Council and Bridge Housing.

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