Location: Woodford, Queensland, Australia
Dates: 8-11 June. The festival will not be put on in 2012 due to insufficient funding.
Level of participation: 3 - watch some dances and have a go
Australia’s first international indigenous festival is but a nipper compared with its 20-year-old sibling, Woodford Folk Festival, but has become one of Queensland’s cultural highlights. For starters, the location could have been made to order: a secluded valley in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with views of the spindly volcanic plugs known as the Glass House Mountains.
The festival’s name refers to the period in Aboriginal mythology when the first beings crisscrossed the land on the Songlines, singing the world into existence. At the festival, the songs come from more than 400 performers, representing some 120 indigenous nations and language groups from across Australia, as well as those from as far afield as Canada.
The highlights of 2007’s festival included a dance-theatre piece about the late indigenous land rights campaigner Eddie Koiko Mabo, and a dance by the Anangu of Uluru. The traditional owners of the red rock in Central Australia wore body paint and enacted ceremonial rituals, some of which the audience was asked to look away for. With communal fires, street theatre, workshops and beautiful campgrounds, the Dreaming is a great way to learn about belief systems that are radically different to Western thought.
Local attractions: Woodford is 40 minutes’ drive from Queensland’s famous coastline, where Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands are among the postcard-perfect attractions.
More info: www.thedreamingfestival.com
See other top festivals in June here.