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WugulOra Morning Ceremony

Smoking Ceremony at WugulOra Morning Ceremony


07:45 AM - 08:30 AM

26 January 2021


Watch at home on ABC TV or iview

Important Information

Online event

As the sun rises on 26 January, connect with the world’s oldest living culture.

Watch on ABC TV or online

Watch the WugulOra Morning Ceremony on ABC TV or via the official Australia Day Facebook page.

WugulOra, meaning ‘One Mob’, is a special way to begin 26 January.

Our nation’s story began more than 65,000 years ago. First Nations Australians are the foundation of our nation’s story and continue to maintain the world's oldest living culture.

As the sun rises on 26 January, we take the time to:

  • honour the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation
  • acknowledge our shared history
  • listen to local elders
  • witness the passing down of culture
  • reflect on the strength and resilience of First Nations Australians.

As an ancient Smoking Ceremony cleanses the way for new beginnings, the WugulOra Morning Ceremony celebrates the world’s oldest living culture through dance, music and language.

Witness special performances by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers and singers, including the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe.

Listen to the national anthem in English and Eora, the local Aboriginal language. 

The WugulOra Morning Ceremony is held at Headland Stage, Barangaroo Reserve. Barangaroo is named after a Cammeraygal woman, who was a powerful leader of her people at the time of European colonisation. Her story is an important and empowering part of our shared history – not only for First Nations Australians, but for the entire nation.

This ceremony is supported by the National Australia Day Council, which is assisted by the Australian Government

Tickets are booked out

A limited number of tickets to the WugulOra Morning Ceremony were released on a first come, first serve basis. Tickets booked out fast. Only ticket holders will be admitted to the Headland Stage at Barangaroo Reserve. Crowd numbers are limited in keeping with COVID Safe guidelines.

You are encouraged to watch the ceremony from the comfort of your own home on ABC TV or on iview.

Note: The photos above were taken before physical distancing was a health requirement. COVID Safe measures are in place for 2021. 

About the Smoking Ceremony

The Smoking Ceremony flame recognises the survival of the world’s oldest culture. Lit on Me-Mel (also known as Goat Island), the flame burns through the night and then travels to Barangaroo on 26 January.

A Smoking Ceremony is an ancient ritual where native leaves are burnt to produce smoke. Depending on the leaves used, the smoke:

  • wards off bad spirits
  • acknowledges ancestors
  • pays respect to the land and sea of country
  • cleanses the way for new beginnings.

In the video below, Uncle Max Harrison (a Yuin Elder) and Dean Kelly (a Yuin man), talk about the meaning and significance of the Smoking Ceremony.

Read video transcript.

History of the WugulOra Morning Ceremony

The WugulOra Morning Ceremony has been a special feature of the Australia Day in Sydney program since 2003.

At the heart of this ceremony is the communication of culture through music, dance and language.

Its first iteration, as the Woggan-ma-gule Ceremony, was staged in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney from 2003; and continued until 2012.

It was renamed WugulOra, meaning ‘one mob’ and moved to the northern boardwalk of the Sydney Opera House in 2013.

Since 2016, the WugulOra Morning Ceremony has been held at Barangaroo Reserve and televised nationally.

The NSW Government partners with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to ensure content, messaging and representation is appropriate.