It’s Kurrung season in Kakadu, the days are warm, but the nights are cool, the Magpie Geese are on the move and the late afternoon breeze brings with it music, arts and the smell of bush foods cooking on the coals…..it’s time for Mahbilil Festival in Jabiru.
The annual festival returns to celebrate Kakadu culture, both traditional and contemporary. Running from midday to midnight, Mahbilil is a family friendly event crammed with activities, workshops for kids, displays, Indigenous art exhibitions & demonstrations of weaving, painting and other crafts. Local showcasing includes the art from across Arnhem Land, and performances from local traditional dance groups. Bushfood features prominently with large earth ovens cooking Buffalo, Barramundi and the speciality of the region, Magpie Goose. Join in the fun with competitions that include spear throwing and magpie goose cooking. With lots of activities and entertainment aimed at young kids, youth and the older folks, there really is something for everyone.
At sunset the festival transforms with an evening program of projections, lightshows, music and dance till late. The music is diverse and includes funky bands from across the Top End & Darwin as well as national profile acts, a spectacular circus and fire show, which involves local youth that have trained for the spectacle.
The festival also encompasses the Gurrung Sports Carnival run by West Arnhem Regional Council, which sees teams from all across the Top End compete.
Jabiru is the gateway to Kakadu, and also to Arnhem Land. It’s a unique cross-cultural crossroads and a great location for a festival. Kakadu is one of the few places in the world that has both Cultural AND Environmental World Heritage status. Why not come out for a few days and include Mahbilil in your trip to this beautiful part of the world?
In the Kakadu region, the year is divided into six seasons and Mahbilil (or the Wind Festival, as it was formerly known) has always been staged in the Kurrung season (late August to early September), when the afternoon breeze, Mahbilil, rises and the Magpie Geese fly in huge numbers across the wetlands and lay their eggs. After the previous season when the country was burned and cleansed, Gurrung is all about regeneration and re-birthing.