Jobs Events Advertise

South Coast’s Giiyong Festival celebrates First Nations creatives

Phoebe Blogg -

Recognised as the largest multi-arts Aboriginal cultural festival in the Yuin Nation, this year's Giiyong Festival celebrated and shone a light on a diverse range of First Nations creatives.

Event organisers, South East Arts, along with partners Twofold Aboriginal Corporation and Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council have been continuously overwhelmed and elated by the positive feedback received regarding the festival held on 8 November.

With Giiyong meaning 'come to welcome' in the NSW south coast languages as spoken by Elders. Giiyong Festival strived to celebrate traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture as well as live music, dance, food, demonstrations and immersive activities.

Receiving almost 2,500 attendees to the event, the program spanned across three zones which included performances from Emma Donoavan, Radical Son and J-MILLA, as well as contemporary violin virtuoso Eric Avery. Local performances from up and down the south coast also took to the the Aunty Rose Mumbulla-Stewart Stage, MCd by comedians Sean Choolburra and Steph Tisdell.

Festival director Jazz Williams, of South East Arts, said Giiyong Festival is "a crucial event for our region and encourages people to value Aboriginal artists and the rich Cultural history and activity across the Yuin Nation".

"The privilege of being so warmly welcomed and immersed in Culture is not lost on audiences. Entertainment, education, reconciliation, economic impact - Giiyong provides it all and deserves investment. South East Arts has secured multi-year funding and will produce Giiyong Festival in 2024 and 2025, with continued support from our partners."

Behind the scenes at Giiyong Festival 2023. (Image: David Rogers)

With a variety of cultural demonstrations performances and more, several attendees and performers claimed that this year's festival was the best Aboriginal cultural festival they have ever attended.

During the festival, the Aunty Beryl Cruse Stage, in the Moneroo Bobberrer Gudu Keeping Place, hosted important conversations and presentations from Ellen van Neerven, Kirli Saunders, Steph Tisdell and Professor Asmi Wood. The most popular discussion on the day was the panel presentation, chaired by Clarence Slockee and featuring Uncle Noel Butler, Kerrie Saunders and Chef Mark Olive, on the topic of food sovereignty.

Several performers, including Eric Avery and Mudjingaal Yangamba Choir, also sang in the traditional languages of their people. In the Aunty Tina Bobbins Ganya, or camp, and in the Bunaan Ring, audiences were packed up to ten deep to witness some of the best traditional dance groups from across the Yuin Nation in NSW.

Over the span of the evening four dance groups - Duurunu Miru, Gumaara, Gadhu and Djaadjawan - came together for Dhilwaan Yarrkural (Nightfall Dance) - a moving performance that sent the dust flying and is being heralded as the highlight of the 2023 festival.

Throughout the day, the festival also hosted multiple traditional and contemporary cultural demonstrations and presentations including dance and didgeridoo demonstrations, cooking with Chef Mark Olive, weaving with Amanda Reynolds, traditional stone tool making with Shane Herrington, artefacts from the Australian Museum, native grains from Black Duck Foods, Aunty Aileen's Yam Hut and Uncle Pirate's pyrography.

The Festival further featured the special premiere of the Giiyong Gumleaf Band's music video for their 'Giiyong Song', composed by Wayne Thorpe. The Giiyong Gumleaf Band was a unique project developed for the 2022 Giiyong Festival, led by Uncle Ossie Cruse of Eden.

Dancers performing at Giiyong Festival 2023. (Image: David Rogers)

This year Giiyong Festival welcomed over 70 volunteers from across the community. Providing vital support to the small festival team, the volunteer's contribution was significant in ensuring the festival ran smoothly across all sectors.

With this year's event having been such a success, the hype surrounding the 2024 festival has already begun.

For more fashion, beauty and lifestyle news subscribe for free to the Style Up newsletter.


Victorian First Peoples Art and Design Fair looks to bring 'whole gamut' on debut in 2025
Inaugural Victorian First Peoples Arts and Design Fair senior project manager Janina Harding has “big plans” for seeing creative...
Jarred Cross 24 Feb 2024
Aiga Festival: Pacific Island Festival promoting family and culture
The Aiga Festival, hosted by Samoan musician and Co-Director Taitu'uga Kitch and Tongan content creator Havea676 in collaboratio...
Joseph Guenzler 23 Feb 2024
Unis need new angle for attracting Indigenous engineers
The work of Aboriginal engineers has survived thousands of years but universities are missing out on attracting a new generation...
Rudi Maxwell 21 Feb 2024
NSW grants announced to boost language revitalisation
The New South Wales government has announced $1.6 million in grants to boost the revitalisation of Aboriginal languages.Grants o...
Giovanni Torre 21 Feb 2024

   Phoebe Blogg   

First Nations artist Amanda Hinklemann collaborates with popular swimwear brand, Baiia
Described as a wearable celebration of community, feminine resilience, and women’s innate ability to support and uplift one anot...
Phoebe Blogg 21 Feb 2024
Ikuntji Artists announced as 2024 National Designer Award finalist
Striving to celebrate Australia’s top-performing emerging designers, the National Designer Award is returning for yet another ye...
Phoebe Blogg 15 Feb 2024
Independent First Nations artists to shine at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
In addition to their textile and design program BLOOM, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is also hosting their new CATAPULT...
Phoebe Blogg 14 Feb 2024
Annual NAIDOC Week poster competition opens to the public
The National NAIDOC committee has has announced the opening of its annual National NAIDOC Week Poster Competition. The 2024 the...
Phoebe Blogg 14 Feb 2024