Magical NAIDOC celebrations in the snow

BATHED IN spring sunshine and nestled at the base of snowcapped mountains the town of Jindabyne in Ngarigo country played host to the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Of Celebration for the Ngarigo and Monaro tribes recently.

Official NAIDOC celebrations are usually held in most of Australia in July but due to the harsh winter conditions in the region and in deference to the Elders of the Ngarigo tribe a September date was determined to be more suitable.

Participants revelled in the warm spring temperature and Traditional Owners and valued Elders Aunty Deanna Davison and Aunty Rae Solomon Stewart both gave heartfelt Welcomes to Country. Clearly moved by her presence back on country the nearly 80-year-old matriarch Aunty Rae Solomon Stewart said, "No matter where you travel, where you go, as soon as you come back here the spirits are so strong and they welcome you to this country and things always seem to go right. I love this country so much."

After completing the Welcome to Country morning tea was served and the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised at the Blue Lake Brassiere at the National Park and Wildlife Snow Mountains Visitors Centre.

The day's festivities were held on the shores of Lake Jindabyne in the new ampitheatre as Elders related stories of their land and birthright in the area. Activities like boomerang throwing, making ochre paints and basket weaving intrigued many of the non-Indigenous community members and some overseas visitors.

Organisers hope the event, now scheduled at this time, will become a larger demonstration of the acknowledgement of Aboriginal connection to country and an opportunity for more people to learn the heritage of the area from the original people.

Peter Swain led the Welcome to Country with a yidaki recital and later captivated the audience with a trio comprising of National Parks and Wild Life Services Ranger Shane Herrington and Philadelphian Ahren Spielvogel.With an endless sausage sizzle and performer Dale Huddlestone, who was also joined by Brad Cox, serenading the crowd, NAIDOC in the snow was a unique celebration of Aboriginal people in the Snowy Mountains region.

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