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Mahbilil Festival back for 2014

05 August 2014

Performers at the 2010 Mahbilil Festival. Performers at the 2010 Mahbilil Festival.

THE annual Mahbilil community festival is returning to Jabiru in 2014, to be held on Saturday 6 September. This vibrant community event has been running for many years and brings together music, arts and culture from the Mirarr people and across the Top End.

The one-day celebration of cultural diversity and community is the premier cultural event on Jabiru’s calendar, bringing together a range of local Aboriginal and balanda (non- Aboriginal Australian) arts and crafts, food stalls, entertainment, parades, market stalls and installations.

Mahbilil is run in conjunction with West Arnhem Regional Council’s Gurrung Sports Carnival, which brings men’s AFL and women’s basketball teams to Jabiru from all four Aboriginal communities in the Regional Council, as well as teams from Darwin and further afar. In the Kakadu region, the year is divided into six seasons, and the Mahbilil festival has always been staged in early September, or Gurrung, when the afternoon breeze, Mahbilil, rises and the magpie geese fly in huge numbers across the wetlands and lay their eggs. A

fter the previous season when the country was burned and cleansed, Gurrung is all about regeneration. The Mahbilil festival continues to be a well-established and popular annual event in Jabiru with locals and visitors alike. It is an important event for Jabiru, bringing various elements of the community together and celebrating the lifestyle and culture of this place we call home.

During daylight hours, it is a family-friendly event crammed with activities, workshops for kids, rides, displays, Indigenous art exhibitions and demonstrations of weaving, painting and other crafts. Food features prominently, with large earth ovens with buffalo, barramundi and the specialty of the region, magpie goose. Many people join in the fun with competitions that include spear throwing and magpie goose cooking, ensuring plenty of action.

As evening falls the music and performance programs crank up, with bands from interstate, Darwin and across Arnhem Land, along with fire performances and video projections throughout the night. Set by the stunning lake in Jabiru, Mahbilil make the town come alive and celebrate! More program information will be available soon.

Jabiru is the gateway to World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park (300km from Darwin) and there are a number of accommodation options in town from camping through to resorts.