The search is on for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and groups to showcase Indigenous culture at the Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021.
Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 is a ten day regional expo and a festival of celebration, Reconciliation and a catalyst for regional economic renewal, highlighting Far North Queensland and Cape York’s unique history, culture, tourism offerings, visual art, performing arts, agriculture, Indigenous and non-Indigenous business.
Cook Shire have been planning a festival for a number of years with the knowledge that 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s voyage throughout the east coast of Australia. Lt James Cook spent seven weeks in Waymburr, now known as Cooktown, after the HM Bark Endeavour ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. The 2020 Expo was to celebrate Cooktown as one of the few places in Australia with an historical site of significance to the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, its natural setting still intact and recognisable after 250 years, where both cultures can gather together, and without debating Indigenous authenticity.
When COVID-19 lockdowns were enforced around the world, Cook Shire had little choice other than to postpone the event until 2021. The 2021 event will continue the 2020 theme, built around the first recorded act of reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians in 1770, focusing on our important historical heritage of a shared history over the last 250 years.
Cook Shire Council Indigenous Projects Officer Sha-lane Gibson said the Ngutha-Ngutha Indigenous Precinct would be an integral part of the festivities with a traditional village to be constructed alongside the Endeavour River and open to the public on 12-18 June 2021.
“Ngutha-Ngutha means ‘back in time’ in Guugu Yimithirr language and that is what visitors will experience – a journey into the cultural heritage of First Nations people throughout Far North Queensland,” she said.
“There will be Indigenous workshops, food, cultural practices and storytelling showcasing the centuries-old traditions of the oldest living culture on earth. Local involvement already planned includes the Hope Vale Arts and Culture Centre’s art stall with Elders teaching weaving and showing how to make and throw spears.
“Ngutha-Ngutha will feature Indigenous communities from across Cape York and their varied cultural offerings with workshops on traditional fire making, Indigenous language, cooking in a gurrma (an underground oven), painting, dance, bush foods and medicines and hunting.
“Local Dreamtime stories will be shared and the market stalls will have a variety of traditionally-inspired foods from different language groups.”
Running from 11 to 20 June, Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 will kick off with the free Reconciliation Rocks Music Festival on 11-13 June featuring Busby Marou and Troy Cassar-Daley, followed by the Cape York Business Showcase on 14-16 June and finishing with the popular Cooktown Discovery Festival weekend on 18-20 June.
The Ngutha-Ngutha Indigenous Precinct is proudly supported by the National Museum of Australia’s Cultural Connections Initiative, which supports First Nations cultural workers and community-led cultural work. Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 is supported by the Commonwealth, the Queensland Government and Cook Shire Council. For more information go to cooktownexpo.com.au.
DID YOU KNOW ?
The place where Cooktown now stands was originally called Gan-Garr, after the word gun-gaar which is a type of white crystal quartz found in the area. Gan-Garr was part of the estate of Waymburr. Cook sailed into Waalumbaal Birri, now known as the Endeavour River, on 17 June 1770. Waymburr, one of 32 clan lands of the Guugu Yimithirr tribal nations was a neutral zone where surrounding clans would come together for cultural ceremonies and mediations. It was law that no blood was to be deliberately spilled on this land– allowing unthreatening interaction and respect. Had Cook landed on the other shore of the Endeavour River, the story of Australia as it is today may have never even begun.