Each year around the end of July or first weekend in August, Aboriginal actor, film-maker and musician, Tom Lewis joins elders and many community organisations in leading children and families in a wonderful celebration of traditional culture.
The “Walking with Spirits” Festival has been staged since 2002 on the shores of the lake at Malkgulumbu, (Beswick Falls), near Wugularr in the Northern Territory.
It is a sacred place but on this weekend the Traditional Owners invite visitors to picnic or camp out for the corroboree, which attracts dancers and musicians from far off places. The festival is alcohol free and the tranquillity is a powerful message to children about respect for one another, for Culture, community and family.
Fountain for youth supports the training of children by artists, musicians and film-makers to develop skills including traditional dance and music, storytelling with video, audio recording, puppetry, fire figures, lighting effects and ‘sound-scapes’ to carry Indigenous knowledge to these communities and a wider audience.
The children are introduced to the elements of theatre and performance, aided by Elders and skilled professionals from the Australian Shakespeare Company. This encourages them to write and re-tell these stories in the classroom.
In an area that has battled petrol-sniffing, alcohol abuse and great family stresses the Walking with Spirits Festival is a positive boost to community spirit, considered essential if we are to see gains in education and health for these Aboriginal children.