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Continuing culture Australia Day festival

Continuing Culture: Australia Day Festival 2016

Tuesday 26 January 2016, 10am – 2pm

Free entry. Some activities require a gold coin donation.

Six men jumping into the air above a beach.

Celebrate the enduring traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture at the National Museum of Australia this Australia Day, with the backdrop of the Encounters exhibition from the British Museum.

Meet new generations of Indigenous artists and practitioners who are keeping culture alive and strong.


Main Hall stage

Welcome to Country

Ngambri didg and dance with Paul House and Co

Aiyawal, Aiyawal! Aiyawal Sagulpa. Bangarra dancer Elma Kris with a fun sit-down dance for kids

B2M (Bathurst to Melville) R'n'B band 
11.40am – 12.20pm

B2M (Bathurst to Melville) is a seven-piece band from the Tiwi Islands, 80 kilometres north of Darwin, where the Arafura Sea meets the Timor Sea. Formed in 2004, B2M write, sing and perform music about issues faced by many people. (Pictured above. Photo: Mark Smerdon).

Biliirr singers

Biliirr are sisters Nardi Simpson, Lucy Simpson and Jilda Andrews, who invoke their Yuwaalaraay country of northern New South Wales and offer audiences a gift through song. Nardi is singer-songwoman with the groups including the Stiff Gins, Lucy is a designer, artist and founder of textiles label Gaawaa Miyay and Jilda is a museum practitioner. 

Biami puppet play by the Wiradjuri Echoes

Please note: all performances, activities and timings are subject to change.

Nardi Simpson, Lucy Simpson and Jilda Andrews
Billiir are sisters Nardi Simpson, Lucy Simpson and Jilda Andrews.

Demonstrations and displays

Enjoy traditional demonstrations from artists involved in the Encounters exhibition, including:

Weaving with Lauren Jarrett (Bundjalung), and Benedicta Radic (Wiradjuri)
10am – 2pm. Free. Peninsula Room.

Indigenous fashion with Kylie Caldwell (Bundjalung)
10am – 2pm. Free. Peninsula Room.

Wood carving demonstrations with Noel Wellington (Jerrinja)
10am – 2pm. Free. Forecourt.

Ochre grinding and painting with Adrian Brown (Ngunnawal)
10.15am – 2pm. Free. Small Bay Window or lakeside deck (subject to weather conditions).

Bark etching and coolamon making with Jida Gulpilil (Dja Dja Wurrung)
12–2pm. Free. Garden of Australian Dreams.

Exhibition talks

Curator talks

Insightful pop-up talks about stories and objects in the Encounters exhibition, with curators Jay Arthur and Ian Coates. Each talks is about 10 minutes. Meet inside the central fish trap in the exhibition. Free. Temporary Gallery.

10.15am: Objects without a story (Ian Coates)

11.15am: Haddon in the Torres Strait (Ian Coates)

12.15pm: Story of two Kimberley boomerangs – Jandamarra and Larry (Jay Arthur)

1.15pm: Bagu and earlier history in Far North Queensland (Jay Arthur)

Artist talks 

10.30–10.50am: Jida Gulpilil, Dja Dja Wurrung artist, mentor and role model in conversation with curator Ian Coates.

1.00–1.30pm:  Elma Kris, (Kala Lagaw Ya), Torres Strait Islander and Bangarra dancer joins Unsettled exhibition consultant curator Kelli Cole, to talk about her visit to the British Museum and the work she produced in response. Please note this talk is in the Unsettled gallery, beside Encounters.

Art and craft

Wearable art
Make your own emu-feather accessories.
10.00–11.30am. Gold coin donation. Bay Window.

Clap stick decorating
Decorate your own clap sticks with Larry Brandy (Wiradjuri).
12.30–2.00pm. Gold coin donation. Bay Window.

Bogong moth sculpture
Join Peter Ingram (Wiradjuri) working on our bogong moth recycled art sculpture.
10am – 1.30pm. Free. Amphitheatre, under the trees.

Ochre mural
Using locally-sourced ochres collected and ground by Ngunnawal ranger Adrian Brown, add your mark to our floor mural in response to the Encounters exhibition.
10.15am – 2pm. Free. Small bay window or lakeside deck (subject to weather conditions).


Elma Kris playing a string game
Join Elma Kris for string games. Courtesy Bangarra.

String games and stories
Learn string games with Elma Kris (Kala Lagaw Ya), play a variety of Indigenous games and listen to traditional stories.

10.10–11am. Free. Amphitheatre and deck.

Come and play Kspace, the Museum’s new interactive adventure game. Build your own time-travelling robot and blast back to the past to explore early encounters between James Cook and the people of Guugu Yimithirr country.

Families can play as a team with up to four players. Ideal for children older than five.

1-2pm. Free. Book by placing your name at the information desk in the Main Hall and meet in Kspace to begin your session.


A variety of inspiring short films shot in location at some of the communities represented in the Encounters exhibition. Featuring inspiring artists and community leaders.

10am – 2pm. Free. Visions Theatre.


Broadbean Catering at the Museum Cafe has refreshments on sale throughout the day. Enjoy a classic Aussie barbecue outside by the lake or a tasty ‘bush tucker’ inspired cafe menu inside.

Transport and parking

Catch a free bus to the Museum on Australia Day, thanks to Action buses. A bus will leave City platform 10 every 20 minutes, from 10.00am to 1.30pm, on a continuous loop. Action route 934 is also running to a Sunday timetable on Australia Day. More on the Action website

Please note: the Museum bus stop has been temporarily moved 500 metres from the Museum entrance.

Limited parking is available at the National Museum car park, at no charge on the public holiday. More parking is available at the Australian National University, Westside Acton Park, New Acton and on London Circuit at the end of Edinburgh Avenue. This parking is a short walk from the Museum.

Australia Day Your Way

Join us for Australia Day Your Way, as people across the world Tweet what they are doing on Australia Day. Share your image via Twitter using the hashtag #AustraliaDay.

Australian of the Year exhibition

See this exhibition which pays tribute to the eight extraordinary finalists chosen for the Australian of the Year Awards 2016. The exhibition features personal objects of special significance chosen by the finalists.
Hall. Free.

More on the Australian of the Year exhibition


The Australia Day festival is proudly supported by The Canberra Times.

The Canberra Times