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Whale Festival

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by Vanessa ★ (subscribe)
WeekendNotes Chief Editor / Chief Writer / PR & Communications.

Sydney Living Museum's Whale Festival celebrates the unique connection between Aboriginal culture and whale migration.

Held on Sunday 23rd October at Vaucluse Estate, this event coincides with the annual Gawura (Eora word for whale) migration season and offers a day of interpretive stories, dance and ceremony for all to enjoy.

The Whale Festival is based on a series of distinctive ceremonial engravings, carved thousands of years ago into the Vaucluse Estate landscape, which depict the whales' migration to the Guru - the deep waters of the southern seas.

The Gawura migration signifies revitalisation and birth of a new generation and the enduring narrative of the engravings tell a unique story of Aboriginal connection to country.

Sydney Living Museums' annual Whale Festival invites visitors on a journey of interpretation to help share and preserve this special Vaucluse Estate history.

The day will begin at 10am with a Welcome to Country by senior cultural leader and Gorawarl Jerrawongarla woman, Aunty Julie Freeman and Smoking Ceremony by Director and Lead Cultural Guide, Dwayne 'Naja' Bannon-Harrison.

On Vaucluse beach paddock, the whale's significance will be revealed through performances from Ngaran Ngaran and Djaadjawan Dancers. Whale Tales will awaken kids' curiosity as Galamban and Orca share local stories and history. Visitors are also invited to join Aunty Phyllis, a Dharwal and Yuin woman, in creating a collective traditional shellwork.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about the local food resources found in the many middens surrounding Vaucluse Estate and how they were used for sustenance by the Eora people, visiting Aboriginal nations and the colonial table alike.

Enjoy a cultural cook-up with Fred's Bush Tucker and sample some traditional whaler's 'pot luck' seafood stew, referencing Sydney's early whaling industry with insights from colonial gastronomer, Jacqui Newling. Visitors can also grab a coffee, tea or hot chocolate from the Koffee Clan.

The Whale Festival follows the success of the inaugural 2015 event and has been further developed for 2016 as a part of Sydney Living Museums' year-long cultural calendar exploring the indigenous connections across its properties.

For more information on the festival program, please visit

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When: Sunday 23rd October 10am to 4pm
Where: Vaucluse House, Wentworth Road, Vaucluse NSW 2030
Cost: Gold coin entry
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