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Mahbilil Magic

JABIRU’S ANNUAL MAHBILIL FESTIVAL is held during Gurrung season in Kakadu, when the climate is still hot and dry and flocks of magpie geese are out, but the thunderclouds are building.

Held on the last weekend of August, the festival celebrates Kakadu culture, featuring traditional and contemporary art, music and food. 

Kakadu has been a hot topic in the press of late, with the recent announcement to close the Ranger mine and the federal government’s decision to invest in the future of the region. Mahbilil Producer Scott Large says Kakadu has come to an interesting crossroads.

“As it transitions into a post-mining future, there is a renewed focus on cultural tourism as the future. Over many years, Mahbilil has been presenting and developing local artists and performers, and there is momentum to see the event continue to support this talent,” he says.

“This could potentially see the event expand outside of Jabiru township into Kakadu National Park (KNP) sites, drawing from the rich Bininj cultural traditions and highlighting the natural wonder of KNP. We are aiming for this year’s festival to strengthen Mahbilil’s reputation as one of the NT’s great regional festivals and continue to grow this great celebration of Kakadu culture into the future.”

Held over three days, festivalgoers can enjoy a swag of activities including workshops for kids, Indigenous art exhibitions and demonstrations of weaving, competitions, painting, sport, film and more. Bush food features prominently, with traditional foods including magpie goose, buffalo and barramundi cooked in a traditional gungerre ground oven. 

This year’s music line-up features local and interstate acts including Shane Howard Trio fronted by former Goanna front man, Maningrida’s all female band Ripple Effect, Melbourne songstress Phoebe Jacobs and local legends Black Rock Band, Jabirumours and the Wulgularr Drifters.  

There’s no better time to do Kakadu!

Mahbilil Festival Fri 30 Aug – Sun 1 Sep | Jabiru | Free | mahbililfestival.com

Image: Natural fibres weaving workshop by Connor Askham.

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