Aboriginal dancers, artworks part of John Oxley Bicentenary event on Town Green on October 28

Dance group: The Birpai Mitjian dance group in action at a recent event. The group will be front and centre during Sunday's John Oxley Bicentenary family-friendly event on Town Green.

Dance group: The Birpai Mitjian dance group in action at a recent event. The group will be front and centre during Sunday's John Oxley Bicentenary family-friendly event on Town Green.

Laurieton's Tony Clark says establishing a niche market for locally produced, authentic Aboriginal artworks and pieces will help promote the area for tourism.

Mr Clark will participate in a family-focused community on Sunday October 28. 

The event is part of the John Oxley Bicentenary celebrations and is on Town Green from 11am until 5pm.

The former carpenter says there are employment opportunities for young Aboriginal men and women if the idea catches on.

"People are looking for locally produced and authentic pieces," he said. "They are moving away from the dodgy overseas products, for sure.

"I regularly travel to Sydney for the Blak Markets, these are held all over the place, including Redfern.

"We need to really promote Port Macquarie and people are certainly learning more about (Aboriginal) culture. We should also be organising tours too.

"It is a niche market that we can get into."

Mr Clarke said he will be displaying artwork, building a humpy, and running workshops on spear making on Sunday.

He became interested in art and wood works after watching 'an old fella on NITV'.

"I spent 20 years as a carpenter and was always on the tools. After I watched that program I decided to give it a go."

His first works included paintings and some carvings.

He now makes traditional weapons and serving bowls along with arts and crafts, clapping sticks, boomerangs and didgeridoos.

His range now also includes a clothing line, which will also be on display on Sunday.

Mr Clark was born and raised in Wauchope before moving to Laurieton. He identifies as a Biripi man from Taree.

Come down on Sunday and have a yarn and look at the display. And if you have any questions, just ask.

Tony Clark

"Come down on Sunday and have a  yarn and look at the display. And if you have any questions, just ask," he added.

Another focus for Sunday's event will be the Birpai Mitjian, a dance group of young women formed just 18 months ago.

Organiser Narelle Toomey said the group comprises dancers from aged 11 years through to 13 years.

She says the group was formed at the regular Wednesday youth group held at Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council.

"I am a traditional owner of this land and returned here 23 years ago. It has taken this long to get recognition," she said.

"One pleasing aspect of the dance group is that there is a strong understanding and association by the dancers to their Aboriginal culture.

"The dancers are really connected to the dance, particularly when accompanied by the didgerido.

"You can feel the didg vibrating through the earth; the dancers are really proud and connected to their culture during these performances."

Ms Toomey was approached to teach dance to the group and says all the dancers have shown pride in their culture.

Along with four dances, Sunday's event will feature storytelling and dancing workshops.

"The bicentenary of John Oxley's arrival in Port Macquarie-Hastings has featured inclusion of Aboriginal culture," she said.

"This is very healing (for us).

"This Aboriginal community is very passionate about our area; our families are from here and we believe in getting the area better promoted.

"And we'd also like to get more koori families involved in our activities and events too," she added.

Ms Toomey said dance groups for younger and older women could also be formed in the near future.

This story Cultural connections for community bicentenary celebration first appeared on Port Macquarie News.

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