Melbourne Festival Indigenous program to connect Australia’s First Peoples

Melbourne Festival The Season photo by Simon PyntThe 2017 Melbourne Festival program connects Australia’s First People with the newest people of today. Beginning with a ceremonial tribute, we continue to celebrate the culture and heritage of the traditional owners of the land, presenting some of Australia’s most significant and up and coming artists through photography, visual arts, theatre, dance and contemporary music.

The first words of the Festival will go to those who have been here the longest with Tanderrum – part opening ceremony and part Welcome to Country as we celebrate the ground we stand on and the people whose ancestors walked it before our time at Federation Square on Wednesday 4 October 2017.

Elders from the five clans of the Eastern Kulin: Wurrundjeri, Boonwurrung, Taunwurrung, Wadawurrung and the Dja Dja Wurrung invite the visitors into their Tanderrum to celebrate and share their cultural heritage. This year’s ceremony will end with a Kulin Nation tribute to the murrup (spirit) of William Barak.

Now in its fifth year, the incredibly successful public art project, Melbourne Art Trams will liven up the morning commute as eight Australian artists transform one of the city’s most familiar icons and allow us to see them with new eyes. Proud Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara Barkinj man, Josh Muir’s tram design narrates the story of William Buckley, the ‘wild white man’: an escaped English convict who lived with the Wathaurong people for many years.

Families are like seasons: you don’t get to pick them, but when they do show up, you better be ready. Aboriginal playwright Nathan Maynard presents the Melbourne premiere of The Season – a comical tale of culture and country and about a family bursting with love at The Coopers Malthouse from 12 to 15 October.

Under the direction of Isaac Drandic, The Season features the exciting – but all too rare – combination of an Aboriginal writer, director and seven member cast of distinguished Aboriginal actors, including Trevor Jamieson (The Secret River) and Tammy Anderson (I Don’t Want to Play House).

In an era of ‘tumbling’ images, Unorthodox Flow of Images at Centre For Contemporary Photography from 29 September to 12 November engages with visual culture in a novel way: commencing with Australia’s first press photograph, images unfurl in flowing, a-historical sequences throughout the gallery, each work connected to the one before by formal, conceptual or visual links.

Drawing upon contemporary and historical imagery, this exhibition features dozens of Aboriginal artists including Brook Andrew, Tracey Moffat, Steven Rhall, Diane Jones and Maree Clarke

The closing day of the festival will be a celebration of diversity with Our Place Our Home. Beginning with performances from emerging musicians from Australia’s refugee and Indigenous backgrounds this is the perfect bookend to our opening ceremony Tanderrum.

Presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Visible Music Mentoring Program, this cultural celebration will take place at MPavillion on 22 October and will feature some of the most stimulating new talent alongside leading figures in music, highlighting rare and under-represented styles.

Indigenous artist Neil Morris and multicultural dance group Brothers in Arms join the likes of Mojo Juju and PICCA Choir (The Pacific Island Choir of Victoria), Cyprien Kagorora and Rwandan Dancers, Cool Out Sun and Guests for one of the most exciting musical creations to date.

The 2017 Melbourne Festival runs from 4 – 22 October. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Season – photo by Simon Pynt