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Mahbilil magic sweeps over Jabiru

12 September 2019

The 2019 Mahbilil Festival has once again shone a light on the amazing culture and creativity of Kakadu and West Arnhem communities.  
The festival held 3 events this year, as well as running alongside the Kurrung Sports Carnival.
Friday night saw the launch of a new mural on the old Bakery building in collaboration with Marrawuddi Gallery.  
Visiting artist Ellie Hannon worked with Bininj artists Graham Rostron, Abel Naborlhborlh, Ray Mudjandi, Ayesha Alderson, Nonica Hardy and others to create a massive painting on 2 walls.  
The process took 2 weeks of constant work and resulted in a vibrant mix of contemporary and traditional styles. 
This continues on from the mural painted for Mahbilil 2018 at the pool.   
Mahbilil is branching out from the standard festival model and bringing some well-needed colour and life to some tired buildings in an effort to renew the Jabiru streetscape. 
Watch this space for further developments in future years.
The main festival day brought music, arts, bushfoods, workshops and performance together in a celebration of Kakadu culture. 
The park looked incredible with the sculptural creations of artist Techy Masero who continues to add more creatures to the collection each year. 
The Djurrubu Rangers served up bushfoods all afternoon from the gungarre ground ovens and also from the coals, including crocodile, buffalo, barra and of course the Mahbilil signature dish – magpie goose.

The weaving workshops, courtesy of Kakadu Tourism, attracted big crowds all afternoon and the traditional language Bininj Kunwok stall educated the crowds. The Magpie Goose cooking competition attracted 12 entries of impressive quality and was judged by Member for Arnhem Selena Uibo and TV Presenter Allan Clarke.  
First prize was taken out by visiting cook Julie Fearnley and People’s Choice by long-time entrant Jackie Christopherson. 
The stage program saw a beautiful mix of local and interstate musical acts including The Jabirumours, Ripple Effect, Shellie Morris, Phoebe Jacobs, Minjilang Konnection, Shane Howard Trio and of course local legends – Black Rock Band! MC Shaun Choolburra had everyone in stitches with his banter and story telling.  
One of the highlights this year was the Jabiru Area School (JAS) dance performance. 
Mahbilil and JAS have been working on this project each year for many years and this year Corrugated Youth Arts developed the work with the students. Performance mentors Jinu Mathew and Amy Simpson brought the best out in the students and the show was incredible.   
The crowd was estimated at around 2500 over the day, from Jabiru locals to West Arnhem communities to Darwin visitors and international tourists, the crowd got right into the festive spirit and made the day a huge success.  
Sunday night saw a new event for the Mahbilil weekend – an outdoor movie screening of ‘Bran Nue Dae’ at the Croc Event Lawns which was a fun and chilled way to round out the events. 
The event is produced by Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of the community. Many thanks to the funding partners KWAST, ERA, NT Government (through the Community Benefit Fund), WARC, Kakadu National Park and Veolia.  It is also supported by Jabiru Foodland, Mercure Crocodile Hotel, Kakadu Lodge, Kakadu Tourism, Djurrubu Rangers, Marrawuddi Gallery, Jabiru Area School. 
See you at Mahbilil 2020!