Cameron Park, Narrabri, was the venue for a significant event for Narrabri Shire’s Aboriginal community on Sunday.
Men, women and children took part in a historic ‘Nation Dance’ as one of more than 100 Aboriginal communities right across Australia which simultaneously celebrated their heritage and culture.
The Nation Dance was a ‘first’ and it is hoped to be a national event into the future. Hundreds of people gathered in the creek-side park to join in as dancers and audience.
“This was the first time in history all the Nations across Australia have participated in a dance, all starting at the same time,” said MC Ann Williams.
Mrs Williams and Aboriginal dancer and cultural heritage advocate Clinton Lamb organised the event.
The Narrabri participation in the Nation Dance was only launched by Mr Lamb a week earlier but by Sunday, with support from local people, businesses and groups, Cameron Park was transformed for three hours into a scene of Aboriginal community pride.
Mr Lamb led young – and not so young – dancers through traditional dances, and explained their significance.
“It is all about coming together,” Mr Lamb said. “Today showed how strong we are as a community.
“This was a dance for our people, our land and our heritage.”
Sunday’s first Nation Dance in Narrabri provided a compelling example of Aboriginal community pride and empowerment.
Several hundred people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, from across the shire were drawn to the Cameron Park event.
More than 60 dancers took part and audience members included the mayor Cathy Redding.
Narrabri Lions Club members Craig Jollow and Stephen Jones volunteered their services with a sausage sizzle.
“This was the first Nation Dance,” said co-organiser Mrs Williams.
“But we hope it will grow from here as an ongoing event.”
More than one hundred communities from across the country took part at the same time.
The proceedings began with a welcome from Narrabri High School student Krista Zarka in Gommeroi and English language.
MC Ann Williams read a message from Alwyn Doolan, a Gooreng Gooreng and Wakka Wakka man who walked from the top of Queensland to Parliament House in Canberra to deliver a message of reconciliation.
“We dance for our people, our land and our creator,” Alwyn Doolan said.
Clinton Lamb emphasised that the big dance event was aimed at bringing the community together.
“We really want to thank the generous people and organisations who helped stage the dance” he said.
“It was particularly encouraging to see so many young people at the dance.
“It is the kids who will take us into the future,” said Mr Lamb.