An iconic event on the national festival calendar, Barunga Festival boasts a long and proud tradition of celebrating the best of remote Indigenous Australia. This much-loved Territory festival attracts a 4000-strong audience of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from all over the world who descend upon the small remote community to camp and take part in a program of music, sport, traditional arts and cultural activities over the 3-day long weekend in June each year, welcomed by the traditional owners.
Barunga Festival has a strong history of showcasing the Katherine region and supporting remote indigenous communities to come together and celebrate the positive aspects of community life. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to join in the festivities and enjoy this unique opportunity to engage with a remote Indigenous community.
The first Barunga Festival was held in 1985 at the instigation of the leader of the Bagala clan, Bangardi Lee. The community was then known as Bamyilli. The festival has been held every year since on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.
In 1988, Barunga was the site of Aboriginal leaders coming together and presenting Prime Minister Bob Hawke with the Barunga Statement which called for a treaty. Prime Minister Hawke signed the statement in his visit to the Festival but sadly, it was never brought before Parliament. Yothu Yindi went on to write the worldwide hit ‘Treaty’ as a result of this gathering at the Barunga Festival.