Each year the first words of Melbourne Festival come from those who have carried this land’s stories the longest — the First Peoples of Melbourne.
Tanderrum is a large-scale Welcome to Country that up until 2013, hadn’t been performed since the founding of Melbourne in 1835. The ceremony features all five tribal groups of the Kulin nation in a traditional dance.
When first performed, it signified allowing safe passage and temporary access and use of land and resources by foreign people. It was a diplomatic act involving the landholder’s hospitality and a ritual exchange of gifts, sometimes referred to as Freedom of the Bush. Eucalypt leaves were used in the ceremony to indicate visitors were free to use the resources. Water was shared from a tarnuk, sipped through a reed straw, with the hosts partaking first to reassure the visitors that the water was not poisoned.
This year’s Tanderrum for the Melbourne Festival on 4 October from 6:30pm will be performed by the ILBIJERRI THEATRE COMPANY and will end with a Kulin Nation tribute to the murrup (spirit) of William Barak. Barak was Ngurungeta — a leader, warrior and spokesperson for Wurundjeri Country. For the final dance, the Kulin Nation invite you to join them for a song reclaimed from rare historical recordings of Barak. This will be a unique chance to see this exciting traditional ceremony and celebrate Aboriginal culture.