Badu Gili Celestial Lighting of the Sails
Showing from 15 December 2023
Badu Gili - meaning ‘water light’ in the language of the traditional owners of Bennelong Point, the Gadigal - is a free daily experience that explores First Nations stories in a spectacular six-minute projection on the Opera House’s eastern Bennelong sails.
Watch the sails illuminate with Badu Gili: Celestial, a new projection celebrating the work and stories of two female First Nations artists from Australia and New Zealand, created in collaboration between the Opera House, Biennale of Sydney and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.
Screenings from sunset, 9pm, 9.30pm, 10pm and 10.30pm from 15 December 2023
View scheduled daily times below.
*Please note Badu Gili: Celestial will not run on 25 and 31 December due to other scheduled events.
Badu Gili: Celestial is a free event for everyone to enjoy. It is the first year-round sails lighting experience to be launched by the Opera House.
Projection runs for approximately 6 minutes.
Event duration is a guide only and may be subject to change.
Suitable for all ages.
Young people under the age of 15 must be accompanied at all times.
The Opera House is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children that visit or engage with us. Read our Child Safety Policy
Best viewed from the top of the Monumental Steps.
Celebrating First Nations culture
As a celebration of the rich history and contemporary vibrancy of Australia’s First Nations culture, Badu Gili continues the traditions of Bennelong Point, formerly known as Tubowgule ('where the knowledge waters meet'), a gathering place for community, ceremony and storytelling for thousands of years.
Badu Gili: Celestial, the vibrant new animation of powerful First Nations storytelling features the work of Meriam artist, Gail Mabo from Mer Island in the Torres Strait, and international First Nations artist Nikau Hindin, a Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi woman from Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Using Mabo’s star maps constructed out of bamboo and cotton, and Hindin’s Māori aute (bark cloth), the digital animation explores the ancient practices of celestial navigation across two cultures, with vibrant symbols and sounds bringing to life the stories of our skies and waterways.
A soundscape accompanies the animation, with powerful music by Nigel Westlake supporting Mabo's work, and Te Kahureremoa Taumata (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitihi) complementing Hindin's.
An important pillar of the Opera House’s year-round First Nations program, Badu Gili is an essential Sydney cultural experience for both visitors and the local community that aims to foster and celebrate a shared sense of belonging for all Australians.
View the Sydney Opera House Reconciliation Action Plan
Badu Gili: Celestial is presented in collaboration with the Biennale of Sydney and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.
Meet the artists
Gail Mabo is a Meriam artist from Mer Island in the Torres Strait. Her multidisciplinary practice stretches from dance to visual arts and is always grounded in Indigenous cultural knowledges. Mabo’s star maps, constructed out of bamboo and cotton, demonstrate her people’s complex understanding of celestial navigation and have come to define her artistic practice.
Image credit: Erin Ricardo
Nikau Hindin is a contemporary Māori artist deeply engaged in the renewal of the Māori aute (bark cloth) making tradition in Aotearoa New Zealand. Unlike other bark lineages across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (The Great Ocean), the Māori bark cloth technique that Hindin employs was last practiced in Aotearoa more than a century ago when the paper mulberry tree that is the main source of bark was almost made extinct.
Including motifs from Māori culture as well as other designs, architecture, and textile traditions, Hindin also uses the bark as an instrument to express another Indigenous technological lineage, the kites or manu. Manu means both kite and bird in Māori, and while often used for recreation, they were also used for divination, communication, and as a guide to new auspicious lands to settle on.
Image credit: Holly Burgess
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Please check the Transport NSW website for the latest advice and information on travel and COVID-19 safety measures. You can catch public transport (bus, train, ferry) to Circular Quay and enjoy a six min walk to the Opera House.
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For detailed information about our COVID-19 safety measures and what’s required of you, please see our plan your visit page.
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Frequently asked questions
No. When you arrive at the Opera House, make your way up the Monumental Steps to the Podium where you will enjoy the best view of the sunset projection.
Yes - we encourage everyone to capture this special experience. If you post on social media, please tag #BaduGili or #BaduGiliCelestial to share your photos or video with us.
It’s a great idea to arrive early, grab a drink and soak up the view.
Please note sunset varies each day so be sure to check sunset times on the day.
Badu Gili is an outdoor event, during winter we recommend dressing warmly.
You can enjoy one of the many restaurants and bars here at the Opera House. Our restaurants offer everything from casual snacks to award-winning fine dining. Find what you’re after, see our restaurants.
Please check with our staff when you arrive.
The projections will run as scheduled all year round, and will go ahead in wet weather.
Plan your visit
Information for visitors to the Sydney Opera House.
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