Mowanjum: WA’s largest Aboriginal corroboree

Tens of thousands of years of culture are brought to life for onlookers every year in the Kimberley town of Derby.
By Fleur Bainger March 8, 2013 Reading Time: < 1

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.

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