Festival’s town debut

Headshot of Sarah Ison
Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

Margaret River will be the site of the Undalup Association’s Birak Festival for the first time this year, hosting the celebration of indigenous culture at Gloucester Park Football Oval next weekend.

Named after one of the six Aboriginal seasons, the Birak Festival has previously been held in Busselton and incorporates performances and workshops for all participants.

Festival director Rachelle Cousins said the event was part of the association’s Act-Belong-Commit initiative and promoted mental health alongside educating attendees about indigenous culture.

“Whether you’re Aboriginal or not, connecting with traditional culture is really important,” she said. “Most people want to experience that spiritual connection to the land and its history, and this festival allows for them to do that through the cultural custodians.”

Triple J Unearthed band Apakatjah will headline the event, while dance troupe Bindjareb Middars will perform and host workshops alongside others, including hip hop instructor Michael Smith and Four Directions Earth Dance Awakening founder Peter Godden.

Godden said traditional owners of any land had so much to teach modern society, particularly in connecting with the earth and exploring spirituality.

“My workshop celebrates that and encourages a return to the old ways of tribal and ceremonial dancing that were so significant,” he said. “I think for people to be able to come together as one tribe and connect with each other and the earth is really important and one of the great things this event has to offer alongside educating the public about Aboriginal culture.”

The festival will take place from 10am-2pm on Saturday, January 13.

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