Every part of Australia is,
always was and always will be,
Aboriginal land.

As a community gathering-place, a festival of arts, cultural exchange and celebration and as a site for the sharing of ideas and stories, Ten Days on the Island pays respect to the Palawa/Tasmanian Aborigines – The original owners and cultural custodians - of all the lands and waters across Lutruwita/Tasmania upon which our Festival takes place.

With thanks to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre for place names and other words in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines.

mapali – Dawn Gathering

Showcasing our local creative community!

Around dinnertime on a Tuesday night – depending on the direction of the wind – in the distance around Wynyard you can hear driving drum-beats… first ominous then gathering momentum into complex rhythms interspersed with ferocious Japanese war-cries! The drumbeats might seem incongruous with the relaxed neighbourhood I now live in, but they are very much part of Wynyard’s local soundscape. I know this because for the last couple of Tuesday nights, I’ve been dropping in to Wynyard High School for rehearsals of Burnie Taiko – an amazing group of (mostly) women directed by Guy Dean – as we plan the group’s involvement in the opening event of the festival, mapali – Dawn Gathering. It’s been a blast – I’m simply in awe of these fierce, disciplined warriors!

The Burnie drummers will be joining Ulverstone’s Slipstream Circus, whose bright young performers will be the centrepiece of the community finale created by the new Artistic Director of Tasdance, Adam Wheeler. Adam is also choreographing the dance sequences of the event with participants from across the north coast of Tasmania! Yesterday I dropped in to the first rehearsals, which was pretty exciting! For the next few Sundays Tasdance’s Isabella Stone is working with young local dancers at Burnie’s Reflexions Dance Studio and local musical dynamo Teresa Beck-Swindale will be rehearsing her choral soundscape for the event at Ulverstone Wharf with community singers from across the region. Teresa has even folded some palawa kani words into her arrangements, thanks to the amazing David mangenner Gough, who is leading the cultural protocols and narrative of mapali – Dawn Gathering.

We’ve all been inspired by Dave’s ideas and how he expresses his connection to this northern landscape through art and teaching, and we’ve been spending a lot of time planning, listening to the waves and just drinking in the beauty of the site where the event will take place. As a veteran of eight festival opening events, I confess I’m a big fan of the way they bring a community together. This one will be special, I know: the preciousness of that time of day, that amazing site and the significance of the message of mapali – Dawn Gathering. A festival is, after all, a community gathering place where we can celebrate our shared humanity.

As rehearsals gather momentum and the event sparks into life, It’s an exciting time for all of us. It’s a work-in-progress and we still don’t know how many local participants we’ll have yet, but there’s always room for more, so if you’re a local singer or dancer, there’s still time to join us and be part of this beautiful community event. In the meantime watch our website, Facebook and Instagram accounts for updates on how the event is shaping up!

It’s getting close….