category Blog, Indigenous

White Cockatoo Dreaming

by Jay

As a non-Indigenous Australian I am now knowing the ancient link that Indigenous Australians have to land, plants and animals known as Connection to Country! 

I (amongst others) was so privileged to witness this connection when I went to the Yabun Festival in NSW. If you’ve never heard of Yabun, the festival is held on Survival Day (Australia Day). I love going to this event and each year Yabun gets bigger and better; it is a celebration of survival, strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Yabun in Gadigal language means ‘music to a beat’. One of my favourite things to do at Yabun is watching the dancers perform. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance groups come from all over Australia to perform at Yabun. This year was particularly special as the Wagana Aboriginal Dancers performed. Wagana has performed all over the world and is a women and girls dance group from the Blue Mountains. 

As the Wagana dancers were preparing, it was explained that the dance that was about to be performed was a dance for their totem, the white cockatoo. Incredibly, as if on cue, masses of white cockatoos flew in and around the dance ground. Some cockatoos took to the fig trees that surround the dance area others just flew around and around the area.

As these women danced, the cockatoos sang and flew with them, the cockatoos’ laughter and shrieking rang out as these women danced with and for their totem.

It was truly amazing. I couldn’t help but watch how the crowd responded to this incredible moment. You could see people transfixed by the dancers, yet at the same time looking up in awe at the cockatoos. People were leaning in and nudging the people that they were with, saying “look at the cockatoos”. It was electrifying and moving. It was one of those moments in life when you are truly humbled and amazed.  Sometimes we hear terms but don’t necessarily understand their true meaning, but this was one of those unique moments in life that the meaning was undeniably clear.