The countdown has begun to one of the region’s biggest festivals.
The Barunga Festival will be booming on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend from June 9-11.
Australian country and popular music star Missy Higgins will be the headline act this year.
“I went a few years ago, just as a punter and I loved it,” Missy Higgins told Katherine Times.
“It was like nothing I had ever been to before, so when they asked if i would play this year I said yes straight away,
“It is a really chilled out community festival, you feel like you are a local,”
Missy Higgins said fans can expect an cozy acoustic solo set.
“You get a nice intimate feeling playing for an audience in a small community, they get excited that musicians have come into their town.
‘You feel like they really want you to be there,” she said.
Missy said after a great experience last time, she will be bringing her husband and son along to hear her perform.
“I saw lots of bands I had never seen before, a lot of local Indigenous bands.
“I remember being blown away by the local talent, I felt really privileged to be among it all.
“They had damper cooking classes and spear throwing, I really got into all of that,” she said.
It won’t be all work, the Australian legend will be enjoying some well earned down time around the region.
“We will probably go camping around Kakadu, I haven’t explored that area before, and make the most of it.
After 33 years, the event has planted itself as one of the most important cultural events in Australia, with a focus on music, art, food, culture and sport.
Barunga also holds a special place in the nation‟s history as the birthplace of Bob Hawke’s Barunga Statement which called for a Treaty with Indigenous people which was the inspiration for Yothu Yindi’s iconic anthem.
This year’s festival will include Missy Higgins, Bunna Laurie and the 40th anniversary of Coloured Stone, as well as cultural events, local sports, art and workshops.
It's previously hosted Courtney Barnett, Briggs, Emma Louise, Thelma Plumb, Paul Kelly and Gurrumul to name a few.
The event attracts more than 4000 people to the Northern Territory, showcasing the Katherine region in all its aesthetic and cultural beauty.
With an audience of over 65 per cent Indigenous attendees, the event has become an important and immersive experience for both Australians and travellers seeking a unique and authentic experience of Indigenous Australia.
More than 15 other bands from all over the Territory will also descend on Barung’‟s main stage each night including B2M, The Lonely Boys and more.
The Barunga Beats hip hop program will also culminate with the Barunga Disco run on the Friday night of the festival by students from the local school.
“This is the kind of festival that changes the way you see the world forever,” artist John Butler said.
”The meaning of the word Barunga is “a happy place for families to live‟, and that‟s exactly what we want for the festival, a happy place for people to come and enjoy themselves,” Jamie Ahfat, Barunga community member.
With sport an important part of remote community life, more than 45 teams from across the NT, East Kimberley, Queensland and Central Australia will come together to participate in Australian Rules, basketball and softball competitions, giving some of Australia‟s best up and coming Indigenous sports stars the opportunity to showcase their talent to a large crowd.
The sports program is run at all levels with both high level abilities and family groups catered for, where you may see mothers, daughters and grandmothers playing on the same softball team.
Culture is also an important pillar of the Barunga experience, with the festival offering a unique platform to pass on knowledge and experience both between generations and cultures. Audiences can engage in traditional dance, spear throwing, didgeridoo (‘yidaki’) playing, weaving, damper making, storytelling and more.
General admission price is $50 with youth (12–17) $15, (5-11) $5.