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Back to our Roots – Canberra and Region Heritage Festival

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The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival is an annual festival running from the 6th of April until the 26th that celebrates the indigenous and cultural history of the ACT. With tours, trails, shows, exhibits, and events scattered across Yass, Goulburn, and the ACT.

This year I was lucky enough to participate in several events. The Highlights for me personally being a trail tour across Black Mountain lead by Aboriginal Elders as well as viewing an excellent exhibit at the Burrunju Aboriginal Art Gallery. The Event program can be viewed here.

I cannot encourage people enough to visit some kind of event that this festival holds. In just my short time I attended the festival, I was able to take away and absorb so much knowledge and appreciation for the history of Canberra and the ACT.

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During my time spent attending what the festival had to offer, I participated in a trail tour near Black Mountain led by Elder Wally Bell. I found this to be a was a very educational experience. I learnt about different places where the Nugunawal people held ceremonies, different herbal medicines that were used, and most enjoyable for me personally, how the Nugunawal people hunted for their food.

The Tour was an experience that provided practical insights to stories that I have heard about indigenous culture. It lasted about 45 minutes but the amount of history and detail that was provided, with such pride and dedication by Elder Wally Bell was honestly awe inspiring.

On the trail there was a moment were Wally halted the tour and pointed out where a tribe of Indigenous people as early as the 1850’s had lived here. Wally showed us things like firepits that are still recognisable and areas of land that have been cleared where Nugunawal people had clearly lived was engrossing. Without the keen eye of someone who understand the natural environment like Wally, I would have never understood or appreciated just how significant this piece of history really was.

While the environment we where led through may not be a heritage building or something like that. It was still filled with history when provided with new found context. These lands extend more than just the Black Mountain tour I attended as well.

The tour was an enlightening and thought provoking experience organised by people who are truly understand and cherish the indigenous history of the ACT. There are tours scheduled all through the month, all with their own stories. Tour

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Art represents history and culture. Two things this festival is all about. The Canberra Heritage Festival organisers have done an amazing job at constructing several exhibits across a variety of galleries and museums across the ACT region.

A majority of the exhibits focus on an in-depth look at indigenous history all though there is still fun to be had in more abstract exhibitions such as the History of Education exhibit at ANU or the Objects of Significance exhibit at the National War Memorial.

Personally, I attended the Burrunju Aboriginal Art Gallery. The art gallery was full of art created by local indigenous people while also being home to several significant indigenous pieces. It was something to truly marvel at and is a must-see for any art lover.

There is something for everyone who wants to get involved with the history of Canberra. The festival has created an opportunity for individuals to interact with the rich heritage of the ACT and surrounding areas. I can not recommend this festival enough for those who are interested in the indigenous and cultural history of the Nugunawal region.


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