Posts Tagged ‘culture’

There is no other place I would rather be on Australia Day.

Saltwater Freshwater Festival 2014

Uncle Martin and friends dancing to the music of Troy Cassar-Daley

For me personally Australia Day is about paying my respect to Australia’s first peoples, a people who have survived and contributed so much to society with little recognition.

I admire the bonds of family within Aboriginal communities, something that seems to be frequently disappearing from mainstream society. I love the welcome I receive for acknowledging Aboriginal people and culture.

For the past four years I have had the wonderful honour of photographing three of the Saltwater Freshwater Festivals. Port Macquarie, Taree and this year at Kempsey.

2014 was the year for the Dunghutti people of Kempsey  to showcase their local Aboriginal Culture and Heritage.


Rhys Waite


Dunghutti dancer Auntie Thelma Kelly

As a photographer it is a perfect location with colour, subject and entertainment  all together in one location.

Photographing the festival is exciting and entertaining but the greatest satisfaction comes from sharing and participating with Australia’s first peoples. The friendships, the conversation and the opportunity to engage and communicate with the local Aboriginal community is a wonderful experience for all Australians.



Troy Cassar-Daley

Troy Cassar-Daley, the headline act for the festival, had the audience up and dancing below the stage. He had already had a big week at the Tamworth Music Awards. I had great admiration for Troy as he signed autographs and had photos taken with his fans for an hour and a half following his performance.


From Kempsey band Sages Muse

As with previous years the team at Saltwater Freshwater Alliance had put together an amazing line-up of artists on stage. They included fresh new sounds from local band Sages Muse, a powerful bluesy performance by Amos Morris, haunting melodies from Jess Beck and great dance beats from hip hop duo Supafresh.


Wagana Dancers

The dance place had performances by the Dreamtime Sistas led by Auntie Thelma Kelly, the Gumleaf Band, the Wagana Dancers and Steve Donavon with the flash mob.

One of my fondest memories will be of the opening Kempsey Australia Day awards and a yarn that will make me smile for awhile:

While photographing the awards the odd big green grape would land with precision accuracy on the crown of my head. Despite several unsuccessful attempts to discover the source, the mischievous perpetrators had beaten me with their stealth and no doubt a well deserved giggle.

Loved it!


Uncle Martin Ballangarry


Amos Morris with an awesome bluesy performance

Steven Donavon leading the Flash Mob

Steven Donavon leading the Flash Mob

The Gumleaf Band

The Gumleaf Band