2 July 2021

NAIDOC Week is a call to Heal Country

| Lottie Twyford
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National Carillon at dusk

The Carillon came alive last year for NAIDOC Week. Photo: Supplied.

Heal Country, heal our nation.

This year’s NAIDOC Week is all about Healing Country – inviting the nation to come together to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country.

Country is more than a place for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. It’s inherent to identity and sustains lives in every aspect – spiritually, emotionally, socially and culturally.

NAIDOC Week is a call to action to seek greater protections for lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction.

Ngunnawal man and artist Richie Allan says that we shouldn’t be waiting until weeks like NAIDOC to take real, tangible action to Heal Country.

“The way you perceive your Country has a lot to do with the actions you’re undertaking.

“That can be something like learning language, giving back what you take from Mother Nature and Country,” he said.

He urges Canberrans, even those who might be stuck within four walls at the moment, to think about what they are doing to give back to Country every day, no matter how small their action might seem.

“Make healing a priority in your life and business – words mean a lot but actions mean more,” he said.

Around the country, celebrations occur at the community, national and state level between Sunday, 4 July and Sunday, 11 July, but there are plenty of ways Canberrans can get involved, too.

However, as the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving, check with event organisers for the latest updates so you won’t be disappointed.

All week

giant bird statue in trees

Dromornis planei or the Demon Duck of Doom on the megafauna trail Photo: C Proudfoot.

Australian MEGAfauna Trail

When: Wednesday 23 June to Sunday 23 July, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm daily
Where: Visitor Centre Gallery, Australian National Botanic Gardens
Cost: Free; see more information online.

Come face to face with Australia’s prehistoric past by following Wonambi the Rainbow Serpent through the Gardens.

See wombat-like creatures the size of hippos, flightless birds that weighed twice as much as modern emus, a turtle with a horned head and spiked tail, and a giant monitor lizard to name a few.

An exhibition featuring original large scale paintings of Australia’s megafauna by Australian wildlife artist, author and paleontological illustrator Peter Schouten will also be on display.

Photo of Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia

Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia reverberates in Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia

When: Friday 25 June to Sunday 26 September, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: National Museum of Australia
Cost: Free; see National Museum of Australia for more information.

Discover the power of the didjeridu and its meanings with the Yolngu people, cultural custodians of the instrument they know as yidaki.

Explore a stringybark forest and immerse yourself in film and audio installations.

READ MORE Feel the power: Arnhem Land didgeridoo exhibition vibrates through the ages

A still from Another Country

A still from Another Country. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

NAIDOC Week at the National Film and Sound Archive

When: Saturday 3 July, Friday 9 July and Saturday 10 July, various times
Where: Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive
Cost: $0 to $12; book online.

To celebrate NAIDOC Week, the National Film and Sound Archive will be focusing on stories by and about inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Screenings include the new documentary My Name is Gulpilil, the documentary Another Country and the short film Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy followed by an episode of Art + Soul.


Participants in the painting workshop at NAIDOC in the North 2018

The NAIDOC Family Fun Day will be a great day out for the whole family. Photo: Erica Hurrell.

NAIDOC Family Day

When: Sunday 4 July, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where: Boomanulla Oval, Narrabundah
Cost: Free event.

The NAIDOC Family Fun Day will this year incorporate free entertainment, live musical and cultural performances, kids and face painting, food and beverage stalls, as well as market and information stalls.

aboriginal and australian flag

The flags will be raised to officially open NAIDOC Week in Queanbeyan. Photo: File.

Queanbeyan Flag Raising Ceremony

When: Sunday 4 July, 10:00 am
Where: Sunken Garden, Queanbeyan Park
Cost: Free.

The raising of the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian flags will take place in Queanbeyan accompanied by a Welcome to Country and free community BBQ.

Buses will then depart Queanbeyan Park to take people to the Canberra NAIDOC family day at Boomanulla Oval, Narrabundah.

Book your seat by calling Kellie on 0427 415 917 or by emailing queanbeyannaidoc@gmail.com.


man playing didgeridoo

NAIDOC Week is all about the community coming together. Photo: Woden Community Service.

Canberra Community NAIDOC Week Event

When: Tuesday 6 July, 10:45 am to 2:00 pm
Where: Woden Town Square
Cost: Free; see Facebook for more details.

The ACT community sector invites you to join them to celebrate NAIDOC week. Enjoy musicians, art workshops, stalls, yummy food and guest speakers.

Local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and business owners are set to share their goods and stories with the community.

A free bus will run from Canberra’s Southside.

READ ALSO Collaboration at the heart of reconciliation says Canberra Indigenous Business Network


Aaron Chatfield

Aaron Chatfield runs the ‘connect 2 culture’ workshops. Photo: Dreamtime Connections.

Culture Workshops with Dreamtime Connections

When: Thursday 8 July to Friday 9 July, 10:00 am, 11:00 am and 12:00 pm sessions
Where: Cooleman Court Shopping Centre
Cost: $8 + bf; book online.

This NAIDOC Week, join Aaron from Dreamtime Connections as he takes you on a journey to discover the rich Indigenous culture, including a look at bush tucker plants and traditional tools.

Kids can make bush soap and try some wattleseed cookies and bush tea!


Day at the River

Day at the River (detail) by Duncan Smith. Photo: Supplied.

Reflections of My Country

When: Friday 9 July to Sunday 15 August, opens 6:00 pm
Where: Belco Arts, 118 Emu Bank Belconnen
Cost: Free; see Belco Arts for more information.

“My Country gives me inspiration to paint; also my family and community.” Duncan Smith presents an exploration of Wiradjuri Country, using traditional ochre and acrylic paints on board. His works reflect rivers, waterholes, meeting places, animals, trees, grinding stones, artifacts, scar tree patterns and land patterns.

READ ALSO Language and culture alive and kicking for Gungahlin Bulls rugby league club


Ngunna Dhaara

Ngunna Dhaara (Ngunnawal People’s Country) by Richie Allan. Photo: Supplied.

NAIDOC in the North

When: Saturday 10 July, 10:30 am – 2:30 pm
Where: Fitzroy Pavilion, Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC)
Cost: Free; visit Belco Arts for more information.

Celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through story, song, art dance and ceremony. Featuring local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and musicians, food, free kids activities, community information and more, this year’s event will explore the 2021 NAIDOC theme Heal Country.

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