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Wagait's Wild Side

In 2013, a small community arts group presented the inaugural Wagait Arts Festival, in true Territory fashion out the back of the local general store. Held every year since, the festival has grown into a thriving celebration of the local arts, music and salt-tinged creativity of the Cox Peninsula region.

By Kate Conway

This year, the festival is included in the 2023 Darwin Fringe program, and marks its milestone 10th year with a jam-packed program across two days, including the hotly contested themed art exhibition. Artists are invited to submit works responding to the theme ‘Growing’, chosen to honour the anniversary year and showcase how far the small yet beloved event has come.

The natural beauty and rural charm of Wagait Beach feeds a creative undercurrent coursing through the veins of the community, with many acclaimed and emerging artists calling the seaside suburb home.

Vice Chair of the Wagait Arts Group committee Alex Richmond says, while there is an abundance of high calibre art entered each year, the competition always brings surprises.

“There’s a lot of people with a lot of talent that we’re excited for, to see what they do each year, but for me it’s always the unexpected works,” she says.

“Last year, first prize was awarded to this local bloke who was dressed as a mermaid, drinking a beer, reading a form guide and sitting in a deckchair, as a long-form performance installation piece. It was really wild and surprising and bizarre.”

Opening night kicks off with performances from local bands Never T'old Ukulele Collective and The Hill People, plus screenings of experimental films from Belyuen based Karrabing Film Collective.

Sunday morning sees the community centre precinct filled with local market stalls, a circus workshop for the kiddos, and an author talk led by acclaimed local writer Leonie Norrington.

Jump on the ferry or make the short trip by car and head to this hidden gem across the harbour. Richmond says it’s the perfect opportunity to soak up the artistic, family friendly atmosphere.

“If you’ve got any curiosity about Wagait Beach and you’re someone that’s interested in creative expression, it’s a really lovely chance to be invited right into the heart of our community.”

Wagait Arts Festival

Photos: Cycads (detail) by Lisa Buchanan

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