A corroboree is a gathering – actually, the best corroborees are great big parties – with music, singing, authentic storytelling and dust clouds rising from thousands of feet stamping. In the old ways, our people would gather for tournaments, sporting events, festivals, marriages. We would travel to neighbouring clans for events, because the moiety stretches to the Sunshine Coast. We’d celebrate food sources like the bunya nut or down south it was the abundance of the bogong moth.
When I was 10, a big corroboree was held in Lismore. According to a Northern Star report at the time, some 10,000 people witnessed the continuance of the Widjabul song cycles led by my family. Witnessing a corroboree at a young age, knowing the chants and calls were thousands of years old, had a profound effect on me.
The best part about corroborees is the strength in numbers – the hearts, the souls and the minds brought together for one moment in time.
Our brains are wired to socialise and opportunities to connect with each other in shared celebratory experience are vital to harmonious living.
Perhaps this is why the corroboree has always been such a strong part of Indigenous Australian culture; as the oldest living culture on the planet we must’ve been doing something right?
In hindsight I marvel at the resilience of my family and their visionary approach to ensure our language, songs and stories were laid down in the archives so they would always be available for future generations.
At this year’s Homeground, I’ve invited First Nations artists from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Canada to perform along with musicians, dancers, weavers and artists from Australia; it’s a global corroboree where, as sisters and brothers, we can forge a greater understanding across borders with the people that are original owners of lands around the world.
The world-wide dialogue of fear is rising, we need to push an alternate rhythm, movement and positive change – with grace and respect. We know it’s good for our brains and it invigorates Australian culture and promotes stronger connections to country.
Start to listen, and your body will catch the rhythm.
Article originally published in the The Guardian Australia on 7 Oct 2016.