Mowanjum: WA’s largest Aboriginal corroboree

By Fleur Bainger 8 March 2013
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Tens of thousands of years of culture are brought to life for onlookers every year in the Kimberley town of Derby.

EVERY JULY, more than 100 Aboriginal dancers converge on a tiny community outside of Derby, in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia.

There, 2400km north of Perth, they paint their bodies with ochre paint, use modern-day materials to create their traditional dress and emerge from behind giant banners, stamping their feet and wailing their story-telling songs to more than 1500 onlookers.

It’s the largest open corroboree in WA, forging a powerful link between the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbul language groups and non-indigenous Australians.

Where: 220km north of Broome
Population: 300; about 1500 people come to watch the corroboree
Corroboree participants: 140+
When: July 11, 2013
Costume making begins: May
Furthest participants travel: 800km, from the Warmun community at Turkey Creek.
For more information: People talk more than they type in the outback, so use a phone rather than a PC. Derby Visitor Centre: 08 9191 1426; or the Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre: 08 9191 1008.

Read the full story in issue 113 (Mar/Apr) of the Australian Geographic journal.