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MEDIA RELEASE - Cronulla to come alive with upcoming celebration of Indigenous culture, performance and history

Internationally renowned digeridoo player and composer, William Barton, is set to headline an inspiring program of live music, dance and cultural workshops as Sutherland Shire hosts the very first Fire Stories – Country, Clan & Culture event at Cronulla Park, Cronulla beach on Saturday, 23 April 2022.

The free, major concert and cultural program is presented by Sutherland Shire Council in partnership with the Gujaga Foundation and La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council. It offers a night of sharing and celebrating First Nations culture through song, dance, art, workshops and storytelling and pays tribute to Dharawal Country and its people.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said the event would not only come as a celebration of the rich and vibrant indigenous history of the region’s First Nations peoples, but would also provide a fantastic opportunity for local residents and visitors from all cultural backgrounds to engage with contemporary art, music and cultural practices of the Dharawal people.

“Council is immensely proud of the support we have provided to celebrating the Indigenous history of the Sutherland Shire over many years and ensuring that Dharawal culture is acknowledged and celebrated in our events, community facilities and public spaces,” Mayor Pesce said.

“This event speaks to our goal to nurture and develop key community partnerships, promote reconciliation, celebrate the unique arts and culture of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and strengthen relationships and connections across the community, but it’s also so much more than that.”

“The exciting program of events we have on offer as part of our ‘Fire Stories’ celebration will provide a not only a great opportunity for people to see some quality performances from some of Australia’s most acclaimed Indigenous artists, but also an opportunity to immerse themselves in the food, crafts and traditions of the original custodians of our region.”

A highlight of the evening will be a ceremony and story of the locally significant Buri Buri whale, with fires illuminating the park as the sun goes down.

“We all know the destructive nature of fire; but fire can also represent cleansing, renewal and growth - fire and smoke are used for these purposes in Aboriginal traditional practice and ceremony,” said Noeleen Timbery, Chairperson of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

“The Gweagal clan group have a spiritual connection to fire and are considered fire people,” said Noeleen Timbery, Chairperson of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

“The presence of fire was also the first indicator to the crew of the HMB Endeavour that there were people on this new land as they sailed the east coast of what is now Australia back in 1770.

“These people, our ancestors, lit fires along the coastline to mark the voyage as they watched quietly and cautiously from the shore.”

The lineup of live music joining ARIA award winning composer and instrumentalist William Barton includes Triple J unearthed National Indigenous winner Robbie Miller, the electro-soul trio Bow and Arrow and rising pop artist Tessa Thames.

The night will include significant cultural performances from the Gamay and Djaadjawan dancers who will be opening and closing the event and sharing local culture and stories through their traditional dance performances.

The event also will feature an array of hands on workshop experiences; from learning traditional weaving techniques, to shell art, dance, astronomy, local Dharawal language classes and modern Koori fusion cooking classes from the team at The Goanna Hut.

Those in attendance will also get to explore up to 20 First Nations market stalls and find something special to take home.

Local artist, Jordan Ardler, is the creator of the feature artwork and logo for Fire Stories. She will be hosting one of the market stalls, where her works will be available for purchase.

“I am really excited to be a part of the Fire Stories event,” Ardler said. “I love being able to share my art and our local Aboriginal stories with the wider community."