Indigenous culture showcased at Hillston Show

The small rural town of Hillston, which sits on the edge of the Riverina in south-western New South Wales, has a rich cultural landscape. The town has a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders population. Despite its remoteness, the community also has strong Indian, Pilipino and Korean cultures represented within their society.

Unfortunately this rich cultural diversity has not been characterised at the annual Hillston show, an essential event in the local calendar.

A grant gives the opportunity to tell the community story

Cultural mural created at Hillston Show

Thanks to a $3,500 CATCH grant from FRRR funded by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, the Hillston Show Society was able to create a more inclusive 2014 Show that provided an opportunity for the whole Hillston community to celebrate its indigenous culture and acknowledge the special contribution of this culture to the life of the community.

A young local aboriginal woman opened the show with her first “Welcome to Country”, a momentous occasion for both her and her family, and the first that the Hillston community had the opportunity to be involved in. Alongside with the symbolic smoking ceremony, a didgeridoo player and aboriginal dancers performed, giving community members the opportunity to experience the aboriginal culture first hand.

Local school children took inspiration from an aboriginal artist to create their own artwork to be displayed at the show. The amount of support and enthusiasm shown by the local schools saw this become an entire pavilion at the show, with nearly every show attendee visiting.

Indigenous dancers at Hillston Show

The community also had the opportunity to be involved with the aboriginal culture by trying their hand at the didgeridoo and sharing a BBQ of kangaroo rissoles and Johnny cakes; although some were hesitant to try the bush tucker at first!

Show visitors were invited to leave their mark on a mural, with handprints from those attending the Show symbolically blending the cultures of Hillston together. The mural will now go on display in the town as a permanent reminder of Hillston’s multiculturalism.

The project’s success and support of the community has created a new Hillston tradition. It was so well received that this will now be an annual part of the Hillston show, with other cultures set to be given an opportunity to showcase their culture to the Hillston community.

FRRR's Culture, Arts, Tourism & Community Heritage (CATCH) grants program supports a diverse range of cultural activities that bring communities together. The 2015 funding program is now open, and will provide grants of up to $15,000, targeted at NSW, QLD and NT. Visit our website for details on the program guidelines and application form.

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