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NAIDOC 2019 - Free Events

Home > Brisbane > Australian Native Food | Community Events | Festivals | Free | Fun Things To Do
by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Event: -
Celebrate all things Indigenous
NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
(image courtesy of NAIDOC)


NAIDOC Week is celebrated in the first full week of July each year right around Australia. This year it's on from Sunday 7 to Sunday 14 July. It is a week which commemorates the rich culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - the oldest living culture in the world. Everyone is invited to acknowledge the significance, contributions and achievements of Australia's First Peoples. This is a great time to increase your awareness of their cultures and history and have some fun. Brisbane City Council supports a variety of events held throughout the city during the weeklong celebration.

Check out the NAIDOC website for all the up-to-date news, events and resources. The website lists events and organisations all over Australia, which are strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Events range from indigenous film screenings to picnics, art exhibitions to workshops, from storytelling to children's arts and crafts.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
Storyteller Shannon Ruska (image by May Cross)


Some of the amazing and deadly events in Brisbane include:
family fun day
community events
cultural workshops, exhibitions and celebrations
skill development
cultural performances

NAIDOC in a Nutshell

In 1991 with a growing awareness of the distinct cultural histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, NADOC was expanded to recognise Torres Strait Islander people and culture. The committee then became known as the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC). This acronym has become the title for the whole week, not just the day. Each year, a theme is chosen to reflect the important issues and events for NAIDOC Week. This year it is "Voice. Treaty. Truth Let's work together for a shared future."

Charmaine Mumbulla is this year's winner of the national NAIDOC poster competition. Her beautiful artwork depicts the dawn light rising over Uluru, which symbolises continued spiritual connection to the land. The circles at the base of Uluru represent the historic gathering in May 2017 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, who adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Charmaine has a background as a lawyer as well as in education and graphic design.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
Poster by Charmaine Mumbulla (courtesy of NAIDOC)


With 2019 being celebrated as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, NAIDOC week is a perfect time to promote Indigenous languages as the first words spoken on this continent and the 60,000 year-old voice of our country.

Leah Flanagan, NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
Leah Flanagan (image from BCC website)


1. Indigenous Performance Program - Gathering
Gathering is an Indigenous Performance Program showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander live performances in the Queen Street Mall every Wednesday at lunchtime. Unique to Brisbane, it is the only Indigenous Performance Program in Australia that is featured weekly in the heart of a major capital city.

On Wednesday 10 July at 12.00 noon to 1.00 pm in Queen Street Mall, Brisbane City.
Songwriter Leah Flanagan draws inspiration from her varied historical, geographical and cultural mix of Venetian, Aboriginal and Irish heritage. Her amazing journey as an artist is woven with famous collaborations with Paul Kelly, John Cal, Sinead O'Connor, and others.

light box, shared connections, indigenous art, King George Square, May Cross
Light Boxes In King George Square Car Park (May Cross)


2. Indigenous Art Program: Shared Connections

From 1 May to 31 July
You are invited to experience FREE open air art with the Indigenous Art Program exhibition which celebrates First Nations' art and culture. Enjoy artworks in outdoor galleries, as well as guided tours, discussions on art, and public workshops. The artworks are displayed in various locations around Brisbane's CBD, including indigenous art projected onto bridges and pylons, on the walls of buildings, in laneways and even a carpark. Or as the Go-Betweens famously said: "Round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town."
The fabulous art has transformed Brisbane into a giant open-air art gallery. There is also a display at the wonderful Museum of Brisbane (MoB) located in City Hall.

milky way, emu in the sky, naidoc, skylore, amy cross
Emu in the Sky (May Cross)


3. Skylore: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Astronomy

From 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily in the Foyer, Gallery and Mini Theatre (free).
Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium's Display Zone is where you will discover Skylore: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Astronomy. This exhibition features some of Australia's leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders sharing their star knowledge. The exhibition was curated by Dr Duane Hamacher, an astronomer and academic working closely with Indigenous communities. Remember that the first Australians have looked to the stars for tens of thousands of years. The sky is a map of wisdom and knowledge and like the oral tradition of sharing information, it continues to be passed down to younger generations. Skylore is a permanent legacy from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Reconciliation Action Plan.

4. The Importance of First Nation Voices on Australian Stages: Play Briefing
On Monday 24 June from 6.:00 to 8.00 pm by Queensland Theatre at Bille Brown Theatre, South Brisbane (free).
Join the cast of Queensland Theatre for a Q & A session before the show's season begins. City of Gold is Meyne Wyatt's debut play and it is compelling and honest. Breythe, a young aboriginal man, has always wanted to be an actor, but this isn't how he imagined his first big television job. A messenger bird brings him tragic news about his family which sets him on a journey. He returns home and is thrust into conflict. Learn more about the show's season here.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
(image from BCC website)


5. Flag Raising Ceremony
On Monday 8 July from 8.9:00 to 10:00am at Griffith University, Nathan campus.
The Flag raising ceremony at Griffith University Nathan campus arrival plaza will be followed by a light breakfast.

6. Mindle Bygul Aboriginal Corporation Family Fun Day in the Park
On Saturday 6 July from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Library Park, corner of Captain Cook and Endeavour Streets, Deception Bay.
This family fun day filled with lots of interactive activities for the whole family. It celebrates the traditions and contributions of First Nation People to the wider Australian community. Enjoy the Elders Tent, exciting rides, kids' activities a live band and more. Free and everyone is welcome.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history


7. Goompi NAIDOC Community Day
On Friday 19 July 19 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at Ron Stark oval, 1 Junner Street, Dunwich on Stradbroke Island.
The Goompi NAIDOC Community Day is an annual event to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to share culture. There will be loads of things to see and do including Welcome to Country ceremony, traditional dancing, cultural talks and display, performance by Georgia Corowa, fun activities for kids, arts and crafts, local food vendors. This is Minjerribah's major NAIDOC celebration and worth the trip to Straddie if you're not a local.

8. Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA): Dick Roughsey: Stories of This Land
From 30 March to 18 August at GOMA in South Brisbane (free).
Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey (1920-85) was a pioneer and figurehead of indigenous art and culture. This exhibition displays 70 works including bark paintings and ceremonial objects.

9. Indigenous Australian Art Collection: Namatjira Story
This is a free and permanent display at GOMA which features early paintings by Albert Namatjira, our best known aboriginal artist. Alongside them, are works by artists who were influenced by him, including many from his extended family.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
Terra Nullius Exhibition (May Cross)


10. Overturning terra nullius: the story of native title
From 8.30 am to 4.30 pm at the Sir Henry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre on the ground floor of the Brisbane Courts of Law.
When Captain Cook claimed possession of Australia for Britain he did so on the basis of terra nullius which is a Latin term meaning "land belonging to no one". It was used as a legal concept for acquiring land deemed to be unoccupied or uncultivated. And of course, it had catastrophic ramifications for our First Nations peoples. This is a must see free exhibition to learn about Native Title and the legal story of colonisation in Australia.

11. The Musgrave Park Family Fun Day
Musgrave Park, 91 Cordelia Street, South Brisbane on Friday 12 July from 9.00 am to 5:00 pm.
Although this event isn't free (entry is by gold coin donation) it has to be the best value around as all the live entertainment is free and there are lots of freebies and giveaways. The Musgrave Park Family Fun Day has become the largest celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture during NAIDOC Week and the flagship of all NAIDOC celebrations in Brisbane. So you'd be mad to miss out on South East Queensland's biggest NAIDOC Week festival with loads of stalls, food trucks, children's activities, face painting, live performances (dancers, musicians and singers) and heaps more. I have attended the last few years along with thousands of families having fun. The venue is Musgrave Park (of course), in South Brisbane and is very easy to get to by public transport - both trains and buses. See you there.

12. Nana Magic's Children's Show
Monday 1 July from 10.00 to 10.40 am at Indooroopilly Library;
Thursday 4 July from 10.30 to 11.10 am at Inala Library;
Friday 5 July from 11.00 to 11.40am at Zillmere Library; and
Wednesday 10 July from 10.00 to 10.40 am at Wynnum Library.
Nana Magic shares her unique stories of her upbringing and she explores dance and song. children can get involved and use their imaginations in this fun live show. It is suitable for kids 3 to 7 and booking is essential.

13. Yarning and poetry with Aunty Theresa Creed
Saturday 13 July from 2.00 to 3.00 pm at Fairfield Library and Saturday 20 July from 10.00 to 11.00 am at Zillmere Library.
Aunty Theresa, an Elder from north-west Queensland, is a performance poet who draws on her background as a dancer, actor and singer and the ancient culture of ceremony. Her poetry tells the story of her people from early times through invasion, land rights and life today. Booking is essential.

15. World Kitchen: Bush Tucker
Sunday 28 July from 10.30 to 11.30 am at Chermside Library and from 1.30 to 2.30pm at Carindale Library.
First Food Co is one of my favourite indigenous food suppliers and I have written about them before in WEN at Meeanjin Markets. Talented Dale Chapman will take you on an amazing tasting journey through indigenous foods, cooking techniues and aboriginal culture. This is a great (and tasty!) introduction to native bush tucker with ingredints such as bunya nuts, lemon myrtle leaf (her lemon myrtle cookies are to die for), wattleseed and lilli pilli. Highly recommended and bookings are essential.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history
Nunukul Yuggera Dance Group (May Cross)


16. Voice from The Dreaming
Tuesday 2 July from 10.00 am to 12 noon at Brisbane Square Library and Tuesday 9 July from 10.00 am to 12 noon at Inala Library.
Shannon Ruska, a charismatic local man, will enthral you with his interactive Dreamtime stories. Storytelling, based on the senses will be brought to life. You will meet the rainbow serpent, the turtle and the crocodile. These sessions are suitable for adults and young people, and bookings are essential.

17. Quandamooka Dreaming Storytime
On Saturday 8 July from 2.00 to 3.00 pm at Wynnum Library.
The Quandamooka people are the Nunukal, Goenpul and Ngugi tribes who mainly live on Moreton and Strabroke Islands. Author and storyteller Sandra Delaney will weave Dreametime stories for children aged 5 to 12. Bookings essential.

18. Brisbane Student Hub - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Awareness
At Brisbane Square Library on Tuesday 2 July from 4.30 to 5.45 pm.
Want to celebrate NAIDOC week and learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? You are invited to this interactive workshop on their history and culture.

19. NAIDOC Week Storytime
Celebrate indigenous culture and stories during special storytime which is ideal for the littlies aged 2 to 5. Most of Brisbane's Libraries are holding events but places are limited so bookings are highly recommended.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history


20. Brisbane City Council official NAIDOC Week Opening Event
On Monday 8 July 8 from 11:00 to 15:00 at Brisbane City Hall in Adelaide Street.
The annual Brisbane NAIDOC week launch is a celebration for both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Enjoy panel discussions, traditional and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers and arts and crafts. A free elder morning tea is provided.

NAIDOC, indigenous, aboriginal, Torres strait islanders, culture, festival, history


Black History Month
Black History Month is a program run throughout July each year and is a showcase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, heritage and culture that acknowledges and celebrates First Australians' achievements and contributions to the city.
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Why? Engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the oldest continuous living culture.
When: 7-14 June
Where: various venues around Brisbane
Cost: FREE
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Your Comment
Thanks for the heads up May. I'll be checking what's on in my area.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6535) 51 days ago
May, it's good to expand our knowledge on all the cultures that call Australia home
by Susan J Bowes (score: 3|1244) 50 days ago
Great article, May. Well done!
by May (score: 2|557) 51 days ago
Wow, so many great things happening for NAIDOC Week! Thanks, May.
by Belladonna (score: 2|350) 50 days ago
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