Aboriginal culture shines in revamped Australia Day celebrations in Dumbleyung
Dumbleyung’s Australia Day celebrations have been hailed a success after a major shake-up of the annual event put the focus on Aboriginal culture.
Locals and visitors were immersed in a day full of cultural activities, from a smoking ceremony to traditional dances and food made with bush tomatoes, lemon myrtle and kangaroo.
Noongar elder Mort Hansen opened the event with a musical performance, before entertaining the crowd with a story about his experience trying to get a didgeridoo through airport security in the US on his way home from Expo 86 in Vancouver with Ernie Dingo.
“They held the plane up at San Francisco airport for 45 minutes,” he said.
“We blew them, showed them but they still held the plane up. The head of security came down, he got tired of it and said ‘you get those people on the plane now. Not in five minutes time, now!’
“They believed we were carrying bazookas. Richard Walley went through with a big long one and we got held up because ours were short.”
The Dumbleyung citizen of the year award was awarded to two local residents for the first time, with Shire president Julie Ramm saying the council “could not split them”.
Suzanne Cronin was named joint winner for her volunteering and efforts in auditing the finances of community groups.
Ina Hansen was the other winner, recognised for the support she has shown her extended family for more than 55 years.
Ms Hansen has raised the children of relatives who were unable to do so themselves, as well as children from other local Aboriginal families.
“It is probably fair to say that no woman in the district has been as challenged and been so successful as Ina,” Ms Ramm said.
“Our best guess is 20-plus kids outside of her own children have been raised by Ina over the years. Even in her later years, she continues to look after children in our community.”
The awards ceremony was followed by a smoking ceremony conducted by Mr Hansen and Aboriginal dances from the extended Winmar family.
West Coast Eagles player Liam Ryan delighted the crowd later in the day, with many lining up to get an autograph or a photo with the star forward.
Shire president Julie Ramm said the event was a credit to the community.
The estimated attendance of 200 people was about four times bigger than the crowd at last year’s Australia Day event.
“The three themes of Australia Day are reflect, respect and celebrate — and I think our Australia Day event this year really encapsulated all three themes,” she said.
The Shire partnered with Wuddi Cultural Tours for the event, which was made possible by a $30,000 grant from the Australia Day Council.
Wuddi Cultural Tours operator Grant Riley said it was great to see Aboriginal culture represented.
“It has never been done before in Dumbleyung,” he said.
“There was no ill feelings. Just to be part of the community was great.”
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