Gumbugan Arts Forum a success
Indigenous artists from throughout Far North Queensland attended the inaugural Gumbugan Indigenous Arts Forum on the Cassowary Coast last week.
Guest Indigenous presenters who specialise in a variety of art forms and arts education and support came from far and wide to discuss dance, storytelling, writing, film and television, copyright, funding and building a local arts network.
The forum, held in the beautiful art deco Innisfail Shire Hall, was the centrepiece of Reconciliation Week celebrations hosted by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council and funded by the RADF program. It attracted participants from Ingham to Cairns and all parts between.
Australian Indigenous comedian Kevin Kropinyeri, who was master of ceremonies at Friday’s forum, set the scene for a relaxed and friendly event with a one-man performance at Innisfail’s The Con Theatre on Thursday night. The audience was kept laughing for more than an hour as he shared his story of growing up and the absurd challenges faced by an Aboriginal Australian family man.
Planning for Gumbugan, Mamu language name for the large flightless bird for which the region is named, began 18 months ago when Cassowary Coast Regional Council engaged Indigenous consultant Trish Barnard as coordinator. Ms Barnard is a former Senior Curator for Indigenous Studies at the Queensland Museum and a proud Cassowary Coast local.
“Indigenous arts tourism is essential for us here within the Cassowary Coast,” Ms Barnard said. “Having so many great artists here, we need to develop the industry and create a future for many of our artists.”
Innisfail dance legend Raymond D. Blanco coordinated dance presentations and worked with local dancers Kimberley Bryant and Ky-Mani Morris, both from Innisfail State College. The contemporary dance presentation told the story of peer pressure and growing up as an indigenous girl within an urban surroundings.
An Innisfail-based Torres Strait Islander family led by Terell Mara performed traditional Torres Strait dance and music. The children played ‘burnie bean’ shakers as they danced to traditional drums played by the elders and won the crowd with their passion and commitment to the dance.
Saturday’s workshops included practical sessions on copyright and protecting your art, making art and product development. Filmmakers Simone North and Chenoa Deemal discussed how to tell your story in film.
Cassowary Coast Regional Council Community Development officer Kath Hansen was delighted the event was such a success.
“This inaugural Gumbugan Arts Forum and workshops was all about the local Indigenous cultural community who supported it and are keen to build on its success and capitalise on new networks and potential projects stemming from the forum,” Ms Hansen said.
“We had quality presenters for each of the sessions and I thank coordinator Trish Barnard who used her networking and knowledge of the Indigenous arts scene to bring the very best to the Cassowary Coast for the benefit of our local Indigenous artists.”
Cardwell jetty’s ageing fender piles are being replaced with treated hardwood timber under the Works For Queensland funding program (W4Q).
Marine borers and wind and tides over the past 25 years have impacted upon the fender piles, which provide a buffer between berthing marine vessels and the concrete jetty.
A Cassowary Coast Regional Council spokesman said 16 poles were being replaced by SMC Marine Pty Ltd and work on the approximate $330,000 project was expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Water jets were used to soften the soil around the old piles before extraction. The new 12.5 metre piles were embedded 2.5 metres into the sea floor and cut to be 1.5 metres above the jetty deck height. Each pile will be fitted with a fibreglass cone to prevent birds roosting on it.
This was the second complete replacement of the fender piles since the jetty was officially opened on July 20, 1969.
Cr Glenn Raleigh thanked the community for its patience with the jetty being off-limits while the work was being completed and apologised for any inconvenience.
“The piles were way beyond their use by date and installing the replacement piles will add safety and usability to the jetty,” Cr Raleigh said.
Eight local Indigenous young men and women have been given the opportunity to further their skills and create employment opportunities such as a cultural tourism venture in Innisfail.
This has been enabled through a collaboration between Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Mamu Aboriginal Corporation with the training proudly funded by the Queensland Government through its Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.
A key outcome of the six-month traineeship program, under the supervision of team leader Merrick Anderson, is the revitalisation of the Ma:Mu Bushtucker Gardens at Warrina Lakes in Innisfail.
Mayor John Kremastos said the eight traineeships included five in Conservation and Land Management and two in Business. Hospitality trainee Elizabeth Banu was thrilled to be offered training in Hospitality through a local industry and business connection with Castaways Resort and Spa at Mission Beach and Tropical Coast Tourism.
The trainees will receive formal qualifications in their respective areas, with Certificate One in Conservation and Land Management, Business and Hospitality.
“It is great to have a program like this that’s there to support our unemployed Indigenous community members, giving them real work experiences which will hopefully lead to permanent employment, particularly in their own enterprise,” Cr Kremastos said.
“We hope this training will also result in a tourism product with an authentic Traditional Owner experience at the Ma:Mu Bushtucker Gardens. This complements Council’s Works For Queensland (W4Q) funded program of activating Warrina Lakes with new walkways that will link to the Bushtucker Gardens.”
Warribarra Elder Victor Maund was one of the group who originally planted 50 medicinal and bush tucker trees on the Campbell Street site 20 years ago after the Johnstone River Landcare Group secured an ABC grant to fund the project.
“Having these young ones take an interest is the only way. We are teaching them about the trees and I just hope they want to carry on with it,” Mr Maund said.
Mr Anderson said he and the team were trying to get the gardens back to how they were and then add to the plantings.
“I am learning more about my culture and the things that are around us. “It isn’t just for Indigenous people, it’s for all of us to enjoy and learn,” Mr Anderson said
Business trainees Tania Ramsey and Kelci Martinez are putting together a database of the trees, working with the Elders and CCRC Nursery Supervisor Sharyn Smith to record the botanical, language and common names of the trees and their uses. This information will be used to produce plaques for the trees and brochures for the public.
Trainee Kristy Knafl from Tully said she was enjoying learning about the different plants and hoped the training would lead to a role as a tour guide, sharing stories about the trees and their uses, and about the culture at the same time.
“Tour guiding would be fantastic and the more people who get to know about the gardens the better,” Kristy said.
Trainee Daniel Purcell said: “My experience has been exciting and a real eye opener to cultural awareness. We have been planting, pruning, weeding and maintaining the garden. I am hoping to further my skills and get full time employment in land management.”
Trainee Tania Ramsey said: “It has been a pleasure to share my culture and local Indigenous history with the Council. I have experienced a lot of departments within the Council and it has been a pleasure to learn. Kelci and I have had a lot of great teachers mentoring us. Right now there is a lot of research to be done for the gardens’ brochure and it is coming along.”