Q&A :: Yabun Festival

January 24th 2014


Sydney will be going off this Sunday. Thousands will flock to Olympic Park and rub sweaty shoulders with semi-naked festival goers. Others avoiding the scene will hit up smaller Australia Day events like these ones. Plenty will simply hang out in backyards with mates and listen to sweet tunes.

But one of the most significant January 26th events is happening right in the heart of the city and in it’s 12th year running is set to be bigger than ever. It’s called Yabun Festival and it’s the biggest single-day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander festival in Australia. An awesome line-up of music, arts and a panel discussion will turn the negative connotations and history of Australia Day on its head to celebrate the survival of Aboriginal culture and showcase talent from around the country.

The Flog caught up with Kieran Satour, Project Coordinator at the Gadigal Information Service, and managed to steal a few minutes of the busy man’s time to get some tips for the day.


FBi :: How has Yabun Festival evolved as it’s grown?

KS :: Yabun Festival has grown and grown over time to be the biggest single-day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander festival in the country. We had about 23,000 visitors to Yabun last year! It has evolved to incorporate many different elements into the program. The SpeakOut Tent hosts the Annual Kevin Cook Lecture as well as a program of panel discussions touching on subjects such as arts and culture, family history, sport and youth issues.

We have a huge range of activities for young people, which have been reliant on generous sponsors such as the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and Deadly Vibe as well as strong partnerships with community organisations.  Such a large festival needs to cater to all ages so we also have an Elders tent!

What can people expect this year?

A stellar lineup of extremely talented musicians on the Yabun Stage.  True to the name Yabun, which means “Music to a beat” in the local Gadigal language, this year we have concentrated on the core of the festival which is music and put together a lineup to showcase the wide-ranging talents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians.  We have a great cross-section of artists at various stages in their careers.  On one side of the spectrum we have the Desert Pea Media All Stars, talented teenagers from all over the country brought to Sydney to be mentored, Jimblah, Maupower and OziBatla.

On the other side of the spectrum we are blessed to have the Australian rock legend Bart Willoughby of No Fixed Address as our headline act for 2014.  Not to mention all of our other amazing acts Emma Donovan & the Putbacks, Leah Flanagan, MajikHoney, Kutcha Edwards, King Brown & Renegades of Munk. Seriously solid.  If you dont know them now, you wont forget them after you come check them out.

Emma Donovan & the Putbacks

Emma Donovan & the Putbacks

As the biggest Survival Day event in the country, what does Yabun signify for Australia?

Yabun is a day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be proud.  Proud of their culture that is put on show for all to see. Yabun is a message to all that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is as vibrant, dynamic and strong as ever.  There is a strong message for people to contemplate the meaning of the public holiday of Australia Day (what blackfellas like to call Survival or Invasion Day) and what it means to the members of nations of this land that are not marked on maps.

If you had to pick three highlights?

1. BLAKARTS: Up Close and Personal is a panel facilitated by brenda L. Croft (Gurindji/Malgnin/Mudpurra peoples), who has worked as an artist, curator and lecturer since the mid 1980s. Panelists include artist Tony Albert, dancer and cultural educator Tim Bishop, writer, director and recent recipient of the British Council’s Accelerate Leadership initiative Andrea James and performance poet, writer and activist Lorna Munro. This forum will be amazing exploring the ways that arts and culture can be used as a tool for activism.

2. Emma Donovan & The Putbacks on the Yabun Stage at 4.30pm.  You have to hear her voice to understand: raspy, strong, amazing.  Emma often sings in her Gumbayngirr language which is amazing to hear.  You don’t have to leave NSW to hear Aboriginal languages being spoken as many falsely believe!

3. Deadly Vibe’s 3on3 competition at 12pm-4pm. How could you go wrong with hip hop beats, basketball and the “Black Diamond”?  Claude “Black Diamond” Williams  is a legend of Aboriginal sport in this country, having played for South Sydney Rabbitohs and for the Sydney Supersonics in the NBL. He was inaugural head coach of the Sydney Kings and assistant coach of the Newcastle Falcons. I’m guessing you could learn some tricks off him.

yabun poster

WHERE :: Victoria Park, Broadway
WHEN :: Sunday January 26th
HOW MUCH :: Free
More info


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