A unique music festival, showcasing local Yolngu and interstate talent, kicks off in remote Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory today.
‘East Arnhem Live’ features four free concerts held over four days, with headliners Regurgitator returning to the region for the first time in 25 years.
Local acts include the Andrew Gurruwiwi Band and Dhapanbal Yunupiŋgu, all-women rock group, Ripple Effect, are coming from Maningrida, as well as NT battle of the band winners, QWYA, Manuel D from Galiwin’ku, Sydney’s Julian Belbachir, and many more.
Artistic Director Rosealee Pearson is a Yolngu woman from Yirrkala where Day One of the festival takes place and says it’s great to be able to give local artists a bigger platform.
“Because we’re so isolated it’s so important that people get to be able to come into the bigger towns and be able to share all the music that they’ve been working on for a very long time and give them that platform as well, and also so that other people around Australia are aware of what’s happening within these really remote communities.
“That’s been one of our biggest motivations, to try and help those artists, bring them in and let them share and shine.”
Day Two of the festival takes place at Gunyaŋara, also known as Ski Beach, Day Three, the main event, is at Hindle Oval in Nhulunbuy, and the final day ends at the Hog Shed, a local musicians haven.
Ms Pearson reminded out-of-towners who might be new to the new region to apply for a Northern Land Council Transit Permit for the events at Yirrkala or Gunyaŋara, the main concert and the closing party at the Hog Shed do not require special permits as they’re held on the Nhulunbuy town lease.
“It’s also advisable to hire a four-wheel drive if you want to venture out more, and double check on your accommodation, because it can be hard to come by.”
East Arnhem Live started out as a free online concert series presented by Yolŋu Radio during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, bringing the culture, history, and beauty of East Arnhem Land to audiences across the globe.
In 2022, they held their first in-person event, and Ms Pearson says this year’s will be the biggest and best one yet.
“It really is an opportunity to celebrate with the whole community here, again because of our isolation it’s really important that we get to come together and be able to celebrate the fact that we have some incredible artists, that we have incredible music coming out of here.
“We’re so lucky to live where we do, we have pristine beaches, incredible access to fresh water, we still get to hunt on a daily basis and live our traditional life, it’s really quite peaceful and calm.
“A really good balance in life we’re very fortunate.”