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Newcastle to host ‘Ngarrama’ pre-Australia Day event

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Newcastle’s King Edward Park will be the site of the city’s first pre-Australia Day Indigenous vigil on Tuesday 25 January.

Ngarrama will offer Novocastrians an opportunity to be still, listen and reflect on the rich culture of all First Nations people, in particular the Awabakal and Worimi peoples – the traditional custodians of the land upon which Newcastle now stands.

The free community event, to take place between 7pm and 9pm, will include a smoking ceremony, welcome to country, traditional dance, music, storytelling and knowledge sharing.

Ngarrama translates to “to sit, listen and know”.

The two-hour event will be hosted by University of Newcastle, Awabakal Limited and City of Newcastle.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Nathan Towney. Photo supplied

University of Newcastle Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Leadership Nathan Townley said the inaugural Ngarrama would be a powerful opportunity for the community to come together to reflect on traditional life before 1788 and to celebrate the richness and resilience of First Nations culture.

“At the University of Newcastle, we believe we are all enriched by cultural knowledge and a connection to country,” Mr Towney said. 

“As a place of learning, we know we have an important role to play in engaging our wider community through knowledge sharing.

“The success of the Vigil in Sydney has shown that there is a real appetite in the community to reconcile with our nation’s past through reflection, truth telling and learning. 

“We are proud to bring a similar opportunity to Newcastle.”

Awabakal CEO Raylene Gordon said Ngarrama would be a free, family-friendly event where community members were encouraged to bring their picnic rug, favourite snack and drink and join together on the grass of Newcastle’s spectacular King Edward Park.

“In this beautiful setting we will connect to country and reflect on the stories we hear but also the stories the land and waters around us hold,” she said.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was important for all members of the community to contemplate life before the arrival of the First Fleet, in the true spirit of reconciliation.

“City of Newcastle is committed to strengthening relationships, trust and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader community, and there is so much we can learn from First Nations peoples who have been caring for this continent for tens of thousands of years,” she explained.

“We’re proud to support the inaugural Ngarrama event, which will bring our culture to the fore through dance, song and stories.”

Although Ngarrama is a free event, attendees are asked to book a free ticket in advance online in keeping with covid regulations.

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