Dancing in the dust – celebrating First Nations culture at the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival

By AG STAFF 7 June 2021
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Visit Tropical North Queensland for a world famous celebration of Aboriginal culture.

The town of Laura is an important hub for people from Cape York Peninsula and home to one of Australia’s most significant collections of rock art. It’s also the venue for a world famous celebration of Aboriginal culture – the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival.

This annual event, which began in the early 1980s, is thought to be Australia’s longest-running Aboriginal festival. For three days it showcases the culture of Cape York Peninsula’s Aboriginal people through song and dance, attracting thousands of visitors. It enables the wider community to witness and gain insight into the uniqueness and vibrancy of this ancient living culture.

After being cancelled last year due to COVID-19, the festival is back. Over the years it’s been coordinated by several organisations; this year the Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation is taking responsibility for arranging and hosting the festival for the first time – a significant milestone for the traditional owners of the country surrounding Laura.

The festival takes place on the sacred grounds at Ang-Gnarra, 15km south of Laura. The event represents one of the largest gatherings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

The celebration is as much about passing down traditions and attitudes to the new generation as it is about sharing the culture of these communities with the outside world.

Showcase of traditional Aboriginal performance

The dances performed at Laura are not watered-down shows for tourists. For three days music plays, kids and adults dance, sing and perform, and an infectious energy cuts through the dust and heat of Laura’s sacred grounds.

The festival represents one of the best opportunities to experience Aboriginal culture, and prides itself on upholding the lore and traditions of the world’s oldest living culture.

The festival will run from 2–4 July 2021. For more information, see Laura Quinkan Dance Festival.