Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee aims to provide a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers and artists to present their works to a diverse audience within a high profile public environment.
The Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee was conceived in 2006 as a one-off event at O’Donnell Gardens in St Kilda as a part of city wide celebrations for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The City of Port Philip was host to the Papuan New Guinean delegation, and the Festival was designed as a local celebration of Aboriginal and First Nations Pacific culture. The City of Port Phillip worked with the traditional custodians of St Kilda, the Boon Wurrung people, and the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to produce the one-day event.
Between 2006 and 2010, the Festival grew from a one-day event to a program that went over four weeks with music, dance, film, technology, a marshaling program, a marketplace, and a sustainability program. The main days attracted attendance numbers upwards of 10,000 people. The Festival became a platform to showcase new works created through Council-run arts programs, including contemporary dance works and documentary film.
The Festival brand, including the name and visual identity, was designed to ground the Festival in local culture. The name Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee was gifted by N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, Chairperson of the Boon Wurrung Foundation, and loosely means People, Place, Gathering. The Festival visual identity features Bunjil, the creator spirit, by Aboriginal artist Reko Rennie.
Over the years, the Festival is proud to have hosted exceptional Australian talent including Dan Sultan, Lady Lash, Archie Roach, Kutcha Edwards, Leah Flanagan, Alice Skye, Baker Boy, Emily Wurramara and more.
In 2020, the Festival is proud to present a free day of family-friendly activities in O’Donnell Gardens on Saturday 1 February.