Boomerang Festival returns to Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2019

Bluesfest19 Yothu Yindi and the Treaty ProjectManaged and programmed from a First Nations perspective, Byron Bay Bluesfest prepares to welcome back the much-loved cultural event; Boomerang Festival – a dedicated Indigenous performance and interactive event that showcases extraordinary art and culture at Bluesfest from 19 to 21 April 2019.

“Our Indigenous festival within a festival, at Bluesfest, is one of our highlights. It is a musical and sensory delight,” said Peter Noble OAM, Bluesfest Festival Director. “We have the best artists and dancers from Australia and surrounding regions.”

“The dance troupes are thrilling and to have a musical showcase presenting the Young Australian of the Year; the incredible Baker Boy, the legendary Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi and the Treaty Project, Mojo Juju, the Mission Songs, Benny Walker and much much more – this is a dream bill for us! The incredibly popular Te Kopere Maori Healers will return providing their very special talents.”

“The local Bundjalung weavers will impart customary weaving techniques, in a way where children, and adults alike, can not only learn these skills, they can also have a very special Indigenous experience and have a cup of tea with an elder. Once again, the local Arakwal people will welcome you to their country, as will the peoples of the Bundjalung tribe of our area, come and immerse yourself in Boomerang on a very personal level.”

“My partner Rhoda Roberts AO and I as the Boomerang Festival Directors invite you to experience this wonderful event. Many have said the Closing Ceremony is one of the most moving experiences, not only of Bluesfest, but, of their lives. Please come by, I’m sure you will be back,” Noble added.

Director of Boomerang Festival since its inception, Rhoda Roberts AO, is a member of the Bundjalung nation, Widjabul clan of Northern New South Wales and South East Queensland.“The 2019 Boomerang lineup features so many of my favourite and brilliant acts, artists, dancers, musicians and craftspeople from across this great country and beyond,” said Roberts.

“All coming together on the stunning lands of the Bundjalung, my country. I am delighted to see that Boomerang is living on within BluesFest and am sure it will be a big success with audiences in 2019.”

In Arnhem Land, they call Baker Boy the ‘fresh new prince’! Raised in the remote NT communities of Yurrwi and Maningrida, Danzal Baker has reached huge success of late have won Young Australian of the Year along with a string of other accolades. The festival is excited to welcome the young Yolngu hip-hop talent to Byron Bay.

Making a very welcome return to Boomerang Festival is Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist, Archie Roach. In a career that has spanned three decades, his work has been recognized locally and internally in both mainstream and indigenous circles. His music speaks the stories of his people, of this land and of the human condition.

Initially launched in 2017, Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project aim to raise awareness around the need for treaty with Australia’s First Nations people. In this exciting new, electronica-driven formation, founding members of Yothu Yindi – Witiyana Marika, Stu Kellaway and Kevin Malngay Yunupingu are joined onstage by former band members and popular Indigenous singer/ songwriters including Yirrimal who will be singing lead at Boomerang 2019.

The group also features cabaret artist Kamahi Djordon King and emerging Yolngu singers, Yirrnga Yunupingu and Yimila Gurruwiwi. As evinced by Yothu Yindi’s success in the 1990’s, Indigenous music, song and dance are powerful tools of protest. Their powerful performance of Treaty at the Closing Ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is one to remember!

Melbourne based singer, Mojo Juju has been called many things and yet she is forever hard to define. By her own explanation, Mojo has never felt comfortable with being categorized and is increasingly deliberate in avoiding labels and defying genres. As a result, it is only in experiencing her live shows that one can begin to understand the full breadth of this dynamic artist with Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) and Filipino heritage.

Yorta Yorta singer-songwriter, Benny Walker is the real deal. His love songs and epic tales are mixed with passion for people, the land, summer vibes and deep grooves that reach the soul. Capturing hearts with darker tracks reflecting a shadowy side, Benny’s killer voice and songwriting talents have impressed audiences far & wide.

We’re stoked to welcome 24-year-old Dallas Woods to Byron Bay for his Bluesfest debut. The young Noongar man, raised in the East Kimberley’s lures you in with his cheeky vibe, inspiring the audience with a positive skew just as you’re smiling along, he’ll pack you with a punch to the guts rapping about confronting subjects in a manner so lightly you feel confused!

Boomerang is thrilled to welcome rapper, drummer, speaker and workshop facilitator DOBBY to the Festival. Aged just 24, he proudly identifies as a Filipino and Aboriginal musician. DOBBY is also a skilled composer and is the 2017 recipient for the bi-annual Peter Sculthorpe Fellowship. This multi-instrumentalist is sure to entertain the crowds this Easter as he jumps between the drums, mic and piano.

Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project is an initiative to revive contemporary Australian Indigenous songs from 1900 to 1999, focusing on the Christian missions, state run settlements and native camps where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were relocated.

Searching for the secular songs that were sung after church, Mission Songs Project looks to explore the day to day life of the mission days, from cultural identity to love and loss. These unique songs consist of almost forgotten stories that can now shed light into the history of our Indigenous elders, families and communities.

Fronted by three talented, young, Aboriginal men, Brotherhood of the Blues is a 10-piece band built on friendship, passion, and of course, a shared love of music. Luke Murray, John Cieslak and Zac Paden met at RED Inc – a local disability service provider in Lismore and started writing songs together based on their own life experiences. After a hugely successful performance in 2016, we are stoked to welcome Brotherhood of the Blues back to Boomerang and Bluesfest 2019.

Originally from the top Western part of the Torres Strait and the most northerly inhabited island of Australia separating Cape York Peninsula from the island of New Guinea, Brisbane based Torres Strait Islander traditional dance group, Malu Kiai Mura Buai share their traditional songs and dances that have been passed down from generation to generation based on the everyday life of island stories.

Rako dance encompasses traditional Rotuman dance, Polynesian and Melanesian dance as well as modern dance forms such as Hip Hop, Crump, B-Boy and Break. Rediscovering Myths and Legends and drawing from traditional animals, plants and trees, the Rako Dance group now incorporate elements unique to the Rotuman Culture and Island and have an extensive collection of Chants, Dances as part of their production, Armea.

Tenzin Choeygal is a Tibetan artist, composer, activist, musical director and cultural ambassador. Having toured globally with the likes of Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Flea, Cat Power and Joan Baez, Tenzin is an exquisite musician and performer. Tenzin channels the wisdom and traditions of his ancestors through his songs that brings a deep experiential warmth to the soul.

In 2015 Darren Compton and Jacqui Cornforth founded Muggera Dancers – a family group who prides themselves on their cultural knowledge and professionalism. The members for Muggera come from a long line of cultural leaders, song men, world-class dancers and didgeridoo players with a formidable respect for culture.

The Festival is welcoming back the incredible Te Kopere Moari Healersunder the guidance of healer Christine Bullock. New Zealand’s Rongoa Maori is the traditional healing system of Maori. It focuses on the oral transmission of knowledge, diversity of practice and the spiritual dimension of health. Maori are Indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand and at Boomerang Festival you will have the opportunity to take part in some very special workshops that will have you walk away feeling focused and centred.

The Saltwater Dubay women’s weaving groups continue the art of weaving as an important cultural practice for both men and women. The Bundjalung Women’s Weavers will share the long and Intricate practice of weaving using traditional methods and materials, a truly special and rewarding experience for all; adults and kids alike.

The Boomerang Festival runs 19 – 21 April as part of the Byron Bay Bluesfest: 18 – 22 April 2019. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Yothu Yindi and the Treaty Project – photo by Kurt Petersen