WA’s big day

• James Webb (on didgeridoo) and the Wadumbah dancers on Bathers Beach; he says it’s great that Indigenous culture is being included in WA Day celebrations. Photo by Steve Grant.

“WE’VE always known it as Wadjemup and Walyalup, so yeah, it’s a good idea.”

Noongar elder James Webb, founder of Wadumbah Indigenous Dance, was born in Fremantle and says it hasn’t been too much of a stretch remembering the city has two names, so he’s supportive of the local council’s draft reconciliation plan which has suggested dual naming.

For Mr Webb, anything that fosters inclusiveness gets his support, so he’s looking forward to holding a special corroboree on Bathers Beach as part of this year’s WA Day–a celebration that in the past hasn’t really looked much deeper than a few Redcoats and Royal Navy officers watching a bonneted lass take to the native flora with an axe.

The WA Day Festival  on Sunday June 2 is being hosted by the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour traders group and will also feature the Yaolin Kung Fu Dragon and Lion Dance Association, the Little Italy by the Sea Dance Ensemble and Italian singer Monique Fitzgerald, who’ll be teaming up with Mr Webb for a cross-cultural performance.

Organiser Nella Fitzgerald said it was important to her that groups like Wadumbah weren’t just a “tokenistic” gesture and the festival was a genuine celebration of the state’s multicultural mix.

“It will be a joyful celebration of all West Australians, recognising our Aboriginal history, early European settlers and the many from all over the world who have made, and continue to make, Western Australia their home,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

The festival will start with a traditional smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country by Mr Webb, who’ll be doing the corroboree at 5.15pm and inviting everyone  in the audience join in at the end.

It’ll all finish up with a fire show featuring special pyrotechnic effects at 7.30pm.

by STEVE GRANT

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