Fire Stories - Country, Clan & Culture

Saturday 23 April 2022

Fire Stories – Country, Clan & Culture was a major cultural event held at Cronulla Beach Park that celebrated and paid tribute to Dharawal Country and its People. It was a night of listening, learning and celebrating.

The Gamay and Djaadjawan Dancers combined to conclude the evening with the Closing Fire Ceremony. The beach-side performance showcased traditional dances and took place within the culturally significant Buri Buri (whale) installation on the sand.

Aboriginal dancers on the sand at Cronulla Beach.
Performer on stage at Fire Stories
Fire Stories event at Cronulla Beach taken from the air

Featured performers included:

In 2013, Robbie Miller was working on his music at home in his bedroom. He uploaded a few of these songs to Triple J Unearthed and the rest is history. He was instantly acclaimed, winning the National Indigenous Music Award for best new indigenous talent and launching an incredible career in music.
Since then, he’s released two EPs, toured Australia, had millions of streams and played several major festivals. His deep, melodic voice and insightful lyrics continue to win him new fans all over the world.

William Barton is widely recognised as Australia’s leading didgeridoo player as well as a highly esteemed composer, instrumentalist and vocalist.
He has composed works for didgeridoo and orchestras, string quartets, jazz and rock bands as well as collaborative contributions with some of Australia’s leading composers.

William’s passion is to create a journey for people through music and present them a diversity of musical styles using the didgeridoo. William utilises his cultural heritage to present his didgeridoo fusion as a storyteller, engaging audiences in the uniqueness of Australia, it’s Aboriginal heritage and to challenge perspectives of the didgeridoo as an instrument. William works closely with classical music and composers to develop and sustain music for the didgeridoo in this environment.

Bow and Arrow are a Surry Hills-based husband and wife team, known for their brand of soothing, electro-soul.  Their music features hypnotising, electric guitar riffs and powerful vocals, while their live show is brimming with excited energy and experimental goodness.
Mindy and Mitchell met at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and quickly established themselves as professional working musicians. They have toured nationally and internationally alongside many different artists and projects including Archie Roach, Christine Anu, Dan Sultan, Shellie Morris, and The Black Arm Band. They’ve played festivals all over Australia, from the Byron Bay BluesFest, to BIGSOUND.

The Spice Girls, The Fugees, TLC, Shania Twain, Natalie Imbruglia, Mariah Carey, The Cardigans... Tessa Thames’ dad ran a karaoke business in the 90’s where she operated as a ‘warm up’ of sorts, taking the mic first with the hopes of encouraging others to follow suit. It was a delicate balancing act: being good enough to entertain whilst trying not to intimidate punters. Through this, Tessa cultivated her love of music and songwriting, absorbing her dearly held ‘Top Of The Pops’ 90’s nostalgia like a sponge. Now she’s squeezing it all out as something of her own.
Now Tessa Thames unleashes her modern 90’s nostalgic pop on the world without any concern for who might be intimidated.

The Gamay Dancers are made up of dancers with a connection to Coastal Sydney. They perform dances that highlight movements and singing relating to coastal Sydney and the Illawarra. The dances tell stories that relate to local dreaming stories and practices.

The Djaadjawan Dancers was established by Sharon Mason in 2013 and is an all women's traditional Aboriginal dance group with a range of ages from 3 - 75 years. The group have a strong connection to Kamay Bay, La Perouse, Monaroo in the high country and Gunai Kurnai Victoria.
Song, dance and stories translated into the Dhurga language is Djaadjawan's way of sharing Yuin culture to the greater communities throughout the country.

Featured workshops included:

Festival goers had the opportunity to learn about the rich celestial knowledge systems of Australia’s First People. These sophisticated and complex astronomical knowledge systems, developed over millennia reveal relationships deeply embedded in science and culture.
In the night sky this knowledge can be seen through the knowledge held in, “the Emu in the Sky”. Uniquely Australian this understanding of the night sky continues to play an important role in culture, the sciences and in oral tradition today.
Aunty Joanne grew up with stories of the Milky Way, shared by her mother, Elders and Community Knowledge Holders, enhancing her understanding of the depth of astronomical knowledge systems held by Australia’s First Nations Communities.

The Language workshop was led by Sophie Youngberry. Dharawal Language is the overarching language spoken by those belonging to Coastal Sydney and was spoken from Sydney Harbour to the Illawarra.
Participants were encouraged to download Gujaga’s Dharawal Language and Culture App and participate in language-based games and activities.

Goanna Hut is owned and operated by Jo-Ann Lee who is an Indigenous chef with over 25 years experience. Her skills allow her to share her Aboriginal heritage and culture with all and her style and creative approach to food have developed a reputation and a large following.
Jo-Ann cooks, presents, and appears locally at Sydney food events. She is regularly cooking at major Indigenous celebrations and quite often appears on your favourite
television cooking shows.
At these cooking events she demonstrates her passion for fusing Indigenous Australian ingredients with contemporary cooking techniques and introduces these unique blends and flavours to the wider community.

The shell art workshop was be led by Aunty Lola Ryan and Aunty Wendy Ryan.
Shell art is unique to the La Perouse Aboriginal community and is something that is passed on by Senior women in the community.

A weaving workshop was led by Kodie and Tarli Mason who taught the rope and basket weave. Both techniques were taught to them by their Grandfather Uncle Rod Mason, Senior Gweagal Elder and knowledge holder.

Featured market stalls included:

Sasha Kutabah Sarago, is a proud Wadjanbarra Yidinji, Jirrbal and African-American woman.
Sasha's country spans from Atherton Tablelands, Daintree right down to Tully - known as the Bama (Rainforest People) of Far North Queensland. Sasha is also the Editor and Founder of Ascension Magazine (Media).
Sasha is a creative soul, who has always been passionate about fashion. She decided to launch a line of apparel to celebrate her love of culture, share Indigenous history with others, and create awareness of the importance of buying blak.

Balgarra Designs is 100% Aboriginal owned and operated, by Joanne Cassady. The word Balgarra comes from the Wiradjuri language which means: 'To Emit Sparks', Joanne chose the word Balgarra because of what the word represents. To emit sparks, the beginning of something new, to ignite a fire. Through the symbolic meaning Joanne hopes to ignite a fire of understanding, education, cultural awareness and unification through her art to the world.

100% Aboriginal owned, by Clarence Bruinsma (Yaegl) and Adam Byrne (Garigal/Gadigal).
Bush to Bowl aims to create spaces where families and community members can engage with Australia's native plants and traditional Aboriginal knowledge and culture.
Bush to bowl was created as a way of giving back to culture and to country. Clarence and Adam believe strongly about protecting both these spaces now and in the future.

Delise Freeman is founder of Deadly Del Designs. She is a proud Aboriginal woman from Goulburn NSW (Wiradjuri). She started painting only a little over two and a half years ago. She started designing and painting round and rectangle cheese boards, wooden spoons and keyrings. Delise has now added to her collection by painting, wooden bowls - large and small, cannisters and serving platters; mostly wooden.

Hand made products by Indigenous women's sewing group. Products include: headbands, scrunchies, soap pouches, cushion covers, bags - various sizes and styles, tablecloths, baby quilts, table runners and much more.

Fraser and Felt is an Aboriginal-owned and family-run, small business operating on Darkinjung Country (Central Coast NSW). Fraser and Felt creates beautiful wool, felt decor for all areas of the home or workplace.
Whether it is decorating a baby nursery, child's room or living space - Fraser and Felt products are the perfect addition. Fraser and Felt is owned by Katie and is named after her little boy, Fraser. Katie is a descendant of the Awabakal people but has done all of her growing and learning on Darkinjung Country.
Fraser and Felt's felt is natural, renewable, biodegradable and free of plastic. They have sourced their felt from a Nepalese family run business in Australia that works to empower women in Nepal by creating job opportunities for them. They are committed to fair trade.

Jarin Street began as a passion to protect and highlight artists and Aboriginal designs in the fashion industry. It was also born out of wanting to create a pathway for all people to connect to Aboriginal artists and story through well-being, in a way that was respectful and appropriately honours Aboriginal culture. Jarin Street aims to provide ongoing ethical and sustainable support to the artists who contribute their work.

Jordan is the manager, La Perouse Youth Haven and a freelance graphic designer
She graduated with a Bachelor of Design (Hons) from the University of New South Wales Australia Art and Design in 2016. She majored in both graphic and spatial design.
Jordan is the artist and creator of our feature artwork for Fire Stories.

KARI Foundation is an Aboriginal not-for-profit with pillars of culture, education, sport and healthy lifestyle, Aboriginal business and employment, capacity building and excellence. KARI Ltd. is the largest Aboriginal foster care provider in Australia.

'Ngumpie' in Barkindtji means 'Beautiful' - this is what Tegan Murdock's Nanna used to call her when she was younger.

Tegan knew her business name had to be this - Ngumpie (Pronounced Numbpie). Tegan's mum taught her to weave several years ago. She started weaving earrings and then kept creating new pieces as the inspiration came to her. Tegan now creates jewellery and wall pieces as well as teaches others to weave in face to face and online workshops, school visits and corporate staff development days.

Tara is a proud Wiradjuri woman and the owner of Ngurrbul Baadhin Clothing. She was fortunate enough to be raised by her Nan and she really wanted to create something which celebrates the love and the gratitude she has for being raised by a strong, black woman.

The Unexpected Guest are firm believers in doing what you absolutely love. That's why they started creating extraordinary breakfast products. They also like doing business with people who are equally as passionate about what they do.
The Unexpected Guest are committed to creating sensational products, supporting small businesses, organic and fair-trade practices and having a great time doing it.

Tricksta the Barista is a local Indigenous barista in Sydney's South serving up hot coffee and food from his van. Tricksta embraces his Aboriginal culture on his daily runs and shares his story with the community.

Fire Stories was presented by Sutherland Shire Council in partnership with the Gujaga Foundation and La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Wuliwulawala: Dharawal Women Sharing Stories

17 April 2021 - 14 June 2021

Wuliwulawala (women) celebrated the resilience and creativity of First Nations women connected to Dharawal land of southern Sydney.

The exhibition featured historical content, interviews and contemporary art which focused on the importance of sharing stories, knowledge and oral histories across generations, while recognising the perspectives of women connected to local and national history.

Wuliwulawala Dharawal Womens Sharing Stories Image credit: Silversalt Photography
Wuliwulawala Dharawal Womens Sharing Stories Image credit: Silversalt Photography
Wuliwulawala Dharawal Womens Sharing Stories Image credit: Silversalt Photography

Whales of the Gweagal

Sunday 20 October 2019

We celebrated Aboriginal culture and the Dreaming, as we brought together our local story of the ‘Whales of the Gweagal’ to Cronulla at a free community event. This included a special water’s edge smoking ceremony, the chance to taste traditional bush tucker and plenty of storytelling by Indigenous Elders. The 'Whales of the Gweagal' story was originally written by Aunt Deanna Schreiber, Chair of Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation and member of Council’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee.

Oak Park was chosen as the new location for the significant piece of interpretive signage for several reasons. It provided some of the best ocean views in Sutherland Shire, where whales can be seen migrating up and down the coast. It is a gathering place for our community, where people can tell stories of their own while enjoying picnics with family and friends in the beautiful natural surroundings. Most significantly, it’s from this spot that you can see across to Jibbon Beach headland, where ancient rock engravings can be found, including the famous ‘whale’ from this very story.

Whales of the Gweagal audience
Whales of the Gweagal performance
Wales of the Gweagal scene