A crowd of around 2,000 people gathered at Wesley College at the weekend to celebrate Indigenous culture here in Perth.
Wesley College’s third Moorditj By Moonlight event was a resounding success, drawing our biggest crowd yet.
The Moorditj Mob program here at Wesley College has been going for well over a decade now. As part of being in the Moorditj Mob, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students get to learn about their culture through working with local elders, while taking part in dance, didgeridoo and art projects. The group has performed on many big stages, including Times Square in New York, Optus Stadium and Telethon – but few opportunities feel as meaningful as this dusk celebration outside their own school, so the size of the audience was truly special.
Families congregated on Ward Oval from 4.30pm to enjoy activities such as rock painting, making friendship bracelets, and face painting. Later, approximately 2,000 people observed a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony presented by Uncle James Kearing.
The ceremony was sombre but reflective, which was appreciated by the audience. However, a party atmosphere soon set in with the sun setting and performances from Wesley College, Penrhos College, Presbyterian Ladies College, and Guildford Grammar School.
Dancing on a giant sand mural, 80 Indigenous students from across Perth worked together to bring their cultural stories to life. The crowd sang along to the famous cover of I Am Australian by the Yabu Band, cheered at the didge-off and clapped to the celebration dance, Nyumbi.
One highlight of the afternoon was the first live performance of the new Wesley College anthem – with the Wesley College Choral, College Choir, Chamber Strings and Wind Orchestra appearing on stage together. The anthem, By Daring, By Doing, was created to celebrate the College’s centenary year.
Glenn Sarangapany, a Wesley graduate, multi-award-winning composer and a member of the internationally acclaimed band Birds of Tokyo, was commissioned to compose the song. To respect and acknowledge our First Nations people, Glenn collaborated with both Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, who adapted a verse into Noongar. The end result is an anthem that celebrates who we are at Wesley and what we value.
With the evening in full swing and the College’s Kefford Wing bathed in lights, event emcee, Thierra Clanton, summed it all up when she said: “Cultural dances tell a story. The story of our land coming alive, the story of the plants, and the story of our role, to name a few. This connects us to Country. Dancing together makes us strong in our culture and reminds us to be proud of our knowledge.”
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