The Walking With Spirits Festival is on again in Beswick this weekend.
A spiritually significant Indigenous cultural festival, this year’s Walking with Spirits returns to Beswick Falls with an outstanding cultural coup.
Walking With Spirits is an outstanding way to experience the heart and soul of the Northern Territory.
The exclusive weekend event features upcoming Indigenous musical talent, as well as a stellar line-up of acts from across the country and the region.
Share in ancient ceremonies and vibrant culture on a land where it is said that the shadows of the Aboriginal song men and dancers flicker in the firelight.
An array of family-friendly activities including dance and weaving workshops, local food, art and cultural museum tours featuring AR technology, will be open for visitors to explore.
Beswick artist Julie Ashley said the community wants its culture with visitors from around the world and within Australia.
“Walking with Spirits is so important for us, we invite our families from all over Arnhem Land, all the different styles of Bunggul (dance) come together and this way we teach our young people proper culture,” Ms Ashley said.
Artistic director Tom E. Lewis said this year will be the most significant event so far, showcasing stars from across the country and the Pacific.
“It is a privilege to welcome them to walk on the ground and with the spirits of Melkjulumbu (Beswick Falls),” Mr Lewis said.
“This year especially, we return to the Falls to honour the senior Lawmen who worked for 15 years to make his event what it is today, we celebrate and cover their spiritual tracks in order to continue their legacy.”
Opening Ceremony starts at 6pm on Friday, July 14 at the Ghunmarn Culture Centre in Beswick Community.
Beswick Community is located 107km south-east of Katherine drive south on the Stuart Highway for 51km, turn left into the Central Arnhem Road and drive 56km to Beswick Community.
The Falls are located down a dirt track which requires a 4WD to access.
Please note, patrons are required to make their own way to the site with a 4WD, the Australian Shakespeare Company and Djilpin Arts are not responsible for patrons transport to the camp site.
Package one: One night concert package
Saturday July 15
Visit Ghunmarn Culture Centre in Beswick Community then onto Beswick Falls for Main concert.
Adults: $145, Conc. $115, child (5-15) $35.
Package two: Two day pass.
Saturday July 15
Visit Ghunmarn Culture Centre in Beswick Community then onto Beswick Falls for Main concert and on site camping.
Sunday July 16
Explore the amazing area around the falls and enjoy another night camping.
Adults: $165, Conc. $135, child (5-15) $55
Package three: three night package.
Friday July 14
Opening ceremony, film and your choice of workshop at Ghunmarn Culture Centre, includes Camping in Beswick Community.
Saturday July 15
Main concert and camping at Beswick Falls.
Sunday July 16
Explore the amazing area around the falls and enjoy another night camping on site.
Adults: $195, Conc. $155, child (5-15) $75
Where do I go when I arrive?
When you arrive at Beswick all patrons must go to the Ghunmarn Culture Centre (on the right hand side of the main road). Here you will exchange tickets (or collect them if you opted for box office collection at the time of purchase) for your weekend wristband which will give you access to the road to Beswick Falls. You must arrive by 4pm on Saturday.
What do I do if I don't have a 4WD?
You must ensure you have transport for the 20km dirt track from Beswick to the Falls as it is not suitable for non-4WD vehicles. 4WD vehicles can be hired from Darwin or Katherine.
There is a Volatile Substance Abuse Management Plan (VSAMP) that prohibits Regular unleaded petrol from being brought into the Beswick Area (including the roads leading to the Walking With Spirits camp site). Diesel vehicles are allowed.
If you have a petrol car you must have Low Aromatic Fuel (LAF or Opal) in your tank unless you were not able to purchase LAF (i.e. if you enter via Mataranka).
In Katherine you can purchase LAF from BP, Shell or Woolworths petrol stations, failure to do this can mean a fine or imprisonment.
Can we bring alcohol?
Alcohol is not permitted at all and is not available to purchase.
Please note that sections of the road to Beswick and the community itself operate under specific liquor laws and the police can impound your vehicle if alcohol is found and you may be fined.
Please respect the wishes of the community and do not bring alcohol to the event.
Do I need to arrange an entry permit to enter Aboriginal land?
Malkgulumbu is on the Beswick Aboriginal Land Trust and its traditional owners are the Jawoyn people. Permits are normally required but are waived for this event.
What are the camping arrangements?
Campers must be self-sufficient. This is a wilderness location with no camping amenities. Bush toilets will be provided, but please bring drinking water, camping and fishing gear, food, insect repellent and sun protection. First aid and ambulance will be available on site. There is a health clinic at Beswick Community and the nearest hospital is in Katherine. You are welcome to swim and walk in the area. Please take all your rubbish with you.
Are there hotels or motels?
If you do not intend to camp at Beswick Falls we recommend booking accommodation in either Katherine or Mataranka. Please note, Beswick Community does not offer tourist accommodation facilities.
Will there be food and drink for sale?
Basic BBQ refreshments are available (cash only) on Saturday evening for the performance. You will need to bring all other food and drinks included water.
About the music
The event will be headlined by ARIA Award winning musician and composer David Bridie performing with Papuan Songman superstar George Telek and musicians from the Gunantuna.
Singing songs from the highly acclaimed latest album a Bit na Ta this special performance is an incredible experience and a rare treat for NT locals and visitors alike.
Adding to the stellar line-up is Yorta Yorta man Benny Walker.
Recently crowned the “Aboriginal Act of the Year” by MusicVictoria, he received four  NIMAs last year and has the industry labeling him as ‘a rising star’.
Benny’s never played an NT festival before and is pumped to bring his full band to the festival this weekend.
“The moment I heard about Walking With Spirits I wanted in, we’re gonna give it all we got” Benny said.
Equally talented but totally different is N.E. Arnhem Land’s Rrawun Maymuru.
Recently having embarked on a solo career Rrawun’s been impressing audiences with his cosmically toned vocals and cultural performance sensibilities; this will be his first public performance in the Top End.
But what would Saturday night be without a spectacular dance performance?
This year Rako Pasefika from Fiji will perform their exuberant and visually tantalizing traditional dance and song; a feast for all eyes young and old.
Having impressed audiences at Byron Bay’s Boomerang Festival Rako brings a rich injection of cultural grooves from the Pacific.