Phil Relf (Ikara Celebratory Events), Bev Coe, Belinda Coe and Samantha Byers took part in a Sky-Lantern making workshop at the Condo Sistas Shed on 30 March. This was one of three potentially life-changing cultural development projects initiated by the Wiradjuri Study Centre with funding from the Australian Government and Create NSW. Image Credit: Melissa Blewitt.

CONDO SKYFEST POSTPONED

Like so many community events this year, the third Condo SkyFest Miima Warrabinya (Reaching for the Stars) has been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Condo’s celebration of 65,000+ years of Wiradjuri culture and continuity was to be held at the Wiradjuri Study Centre on Saturday 4 September but is now rescheduled for April or May 2022 when the Inland’s spectacular night sky will be at its best for stargazing.

“Our SkyFest working group had curated a fantastic program of live music, traditional and contemporary dance, art exhibitions, indigenous food, workshops, stalls, a sunset parade of illuminated paper lanterns, stargazing, an interactive virtual reality installation, and an incendiary grand finale,” Mr Ally Coe, CEO of Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation, said.

“So many people have been affected by the postponement. It’s very disappointing for all of us.”

“We’ve also had to reschedule our SkyFest Supporters dinner, which was to feature traditional Wiradjuri foods, including yellow belly (golden perch), yabbies and kangaroo prepared by Indigenous chef Gerald Power from Orange.”

“A hard decision, but to look on the bright side, we now have extra time to catch more yabbies and yellow belly, and refine the program to make SkyFest Miima Warrabinya an even better celebration of Wiradjuri heritage in 2022!” he quipped.

Condo SkyFest is unique because it’s not just about entertainment and attendance numbers. It’s more about community cultural development. About enriching people’s lives by creating new opportunities, nurturing new skills and capacities, and inspiring locals to ‘reach for the stars’.

This year, the Wiradjuri Study Centre initiated three potentially life-changing cultural development projects with funding from the Australian Government and Create NSW.

The first of these was a community lantern-making project led by local artist Bev Coe and lantern-maker Phil Relf from Ikara Celebratory Events in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.

This project has involved students from all of Condo’s public schools, as well as Marathon Health’s Shine group, and the women of the Condo Sista Shed.

It will probably involve many more in 2022. For the second project, Wiradjuri choreographer Jo Clancy, from the Blue Mountains, conducted regular Contemporary Aboriginal Dance workshops at the Wiradjuri Study Centre, and supported the formation of a permanent girls dance group, Ngamurr Waganha Walan (Daughter Dance Strong).

This group is now led by local mums Teigan McRae and Beckie Merritt. The third initiative, Gaalmadhaany Songmakers Project, involves Wiradjuri singersongwriter Shane Riley from Dubbo, Blue Mountains-based composer Peter Kennard, local poets Monicque Merritt and Marion Wighton-Packham, and local singer Janita Coe.

Together, this team is co-creating a collection of original Wiradjuri songs which will now be performed at Condo SkyFest Miima Warrabinya 2022 as part of its Indigenous music program.

SkyFest’s innovative programming has already attracted the attention of Tourism Australia and Destination NSW, thanks to a promotional campaign commissioned by Central NSW Joint Organisation.

Central JO Executive Officer, Jenny Bennett, is not surprised the event is getting national attention. “Visitors are hungry for authentic Indigenous experiences,” she said.

“Especially events like Condo SkyFest Miima Warrabinya where the local community gets involved to share their stories and talents in engaging and inspiring ways. I’m so looking forward to Condo SkyFest Miima Warrabinya in 2022!”

For more information about Condo SkyFest Miima Warrabinya, please visit the website skyfest.com.au or Facebook/CondoSkyFest

Contributed.

Last Updated: 11/08/2021By

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