Mounts celebrate indigenous links

Ngatanwarr Kaaweeyn Dancers celebrate NAIDOC Week at Mount Leura with three ‘creative story’ dances, including the Bunjil dance which pays tribute to the wedge-tailed eagle.

CAMPERDOWN and Derrinallum’s indigenous links were highlighted and celebrated over the weekend as part of local NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Simultaneous flag raising ceremonies took place at Mount Leura and Mount Elephant reserves, which both attracted strong crowds of supporters.

Gunditjmara elder Brett Clark performed a welcome to country and smoking ceremony at Mount Leura, while Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council past chair Eleanor Burke officiated at Mount Elephant.

Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf Management Committee secretary Frances Grundy said the raising of the aboriginal flag then followed to resounding applause and cheers.

“A real highlight of the Camperdown celebrations were performances by the Ngatanwarr Kaaweeyn Dancers,” she said.

“The dancers ranged from toddler age through to about 15 and really added to the whole celebratory atmosphere of the day, performing three different ‘creative story’ dances.”

About 80 locals attended Mount Leura’s celebrations, including Corangamite Shire mayor Neil Trotter, Cr Ruth Gstrein and Cr Helen Durant.

Attendees then enjoyed a shared lunch.

“It’s the third year we have celebrated NAIDOC Week at the two reserves and the community involvement is growing every year,” Ms Grundy said.

Ngatanwarr Kaaweeyn Dancers were a central feature of NAIDOC Week celebrations at The Courthouse Camperdown.

“It’s our way of paying respect to indigenous culture and recognising that all the volcanic cones in this area were very significant to the indigenous population.

“Indigenous people were here when Leura, Sugarloaf, Elephant and all the other mounts on the volcanic plains were formed, which is really incredible to think of.”

Afternoon celebrations saw Mr Clark and Ngatanwarr Kaaweyn Dancers move on to The Courthouse Camperdown for similar NAIDOC Week activities.

School children were also catered for with indigenous art, dance, boomerang pairing and Nature Play activities offered at the courthouse on Wednesday.

The workshops will take place again today (Friday), from 10am until 2pm, followed with the launch of indigenous artist Tinika Clifford’s exhibition at 6pm.

Mount Elephant Community Management Committee member Val Lang said just over 30 people attended the Derrinallum celebrations, which also included displays in the local library and history rooms.

“Elenour Burke was our guest speaker and she gave a great insight into the history of NAIDOC Week and its development over the last 40 odd years,” she said.

“She also touched on the current state of the treaty talks and what it would mean to her personally to have a treaty in place.”

Attendees then enjoyed morning tea.

“While it was a low-key celebration it was a very pleasant way to celebrate NAIDOC Week,” Mrs Lang said.

“We also had someone comment that it was lovely to be part of a national event at a local level, which was nice to hear.”

Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council past chair Eleanor Burke gives an insight into the history of NAIDOC Week during celebrations at Mount Elephant.

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