World's oldest surviving culture celebrated in 2017

WugulOra, meaning ‘One Mob’ in the Sydney area Aboriginal language, kicked off Australia Day 2017 by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians. 

The Morning Ceremony included:

  • Acknowledgement of Country by Ms Yvonne Weldon, Chair of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • speech by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd)
  • performance by the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company
  • National anthem, sung in Dharawal and English by the KARI Choir
  • Choral performance by 250 voices of the Budjari Gunyalungalung Baraya-la (meaning ‘Let’s Sing Good Dreaming’)
  • raising of the Aboriginal and Australian flags on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Watch the Smoking Ceremony

Watch the choral performance 

Watch the dance and national anthem performances

Read the Governor of NSW's speech


To prepare for the Morning Ceremony, winners of the 2016 National Aboriginal Dance Rites contest Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe held a Smoking Ceremony at Barangaroo. 

Smoking cerermonies are an ancient custom among Aboriginal Australians in which native plants are burnt to produce smoke to ward off bad spirits, acknowledge ancestors and pay respect to the land and sea of country. The smoke is believed to have healing and cleansing properties. 

In the video below, Yuin Elder Uncle Max Harrison and Yuin man Dean Kelly talk about the meaning and significance of a Smoking Ceremony. To turn on captions, use the video controls. 

The Australia Day 2017 Smoking Ceremony flame was lit on 25 January at Belmore Park and stored overnight at Me-mel (Goat Island). 

On Australia Day, the fire was transported from Goat Island to Marrinawi Cove by the Trbial Warrior. A procession escorted the fire from Marrinawi Cove to Walumil lawns.  

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