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Calling Country show to shine spotlight on First Nations culture at Sydney's New Year's Eve celebration

Brendan Foster -

First Nations culture will take centre stage at Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks with a smoking ceremony, spectacular Calling Country pyrotechnics show and celebration of Indigenous voices and stories.

Created by Indigenous social enterprise, We Are Warriors (WAW), the Calling Country show will commence on December 31 at 9pm, shining a spotlight on First Nations culture.

Pyrotechnics including aerial shells, fan effects, comets and mines will fill the night sky highlighting the connection to land, sky and sea.

Yuin artist, rapper and Triple J radio host, Nooky will be joined on stage by Noongar rapper Dallas Woods and Gumbaynggirr singer Angus Field, who are part of the hip-hop supergroup 3%.

Woorabinda artist Jada Weazel and other special guests will join the trio for a special performance of the track Our People.

WAW founder and creative director, Nooky said he wanted to let First Nations people know they're loved.

"That they are Warriors. It's time to reflect on and awaken the stories of this country that have been buried by the history we didn't write," he said.

Tribal Warrior will hold a traditional smoking ceremony on the harbour to kick off New Year's Eve celebrations, paying respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present, whilst welcoming visitors onto Gadigal land.

For the first time, three vessels will take part in the ceremony, with Tribal Warrior joined by Wirawi and the Mari Nawi as it makes its way from Barangaroo to Campbell Cove.

Pylon projections, a collaboration between We Are Warriors, R/GA, illustrator Janelle Burger, Vandal and 3D artist Jock Holyman, will depict how stories passed down through generations keep Indigenous culture and identity alive.

One of the key themes for the evening is 'Buried Country', which will illustrate the story of Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy who led a resistance against Sydney colonists.

Nooky said he wanted to share stories of great warriors like Pemulwuy.

"We are going all out projecting images onto the harbour bridge putting blak excellence on full display for the world to see," he said.

"From the visuals to the music we pursued to reflect what a calling to country is. We are calling to our old people for strength in this moment and to also celebrate their achievements and the knowledge they have passed down.

"This platform allows us to share our truth, our stories, our voice with the world."

Ms Burger has created bespoke illustrations of iconic First Nations figures including Cathy Freeman, Barkaa, Anita Heiss, Adam Goodes and Patty Mills, which will be integrated with WAW creative.

"When creating these images for the Sydney New Year's Eve pylons, I tried to capture the essence and spirit of the First Nations peoples," she said.

"To integrate the timeless connection to the land into the very fabric of the images.

"This is a tribute to warriors whose footsteps echoed through time, leaving an indelible mark on Australia's history."

As part of this live show, an Elder from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council will present Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore with a message stick created for Sydney New Year's Eve.

Ms Moore said the event championed Indigenous culture and storytelling and highlighted the challenges and resilience of both young and old First Nations peoples.


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