South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula will be a place of celebration of Narungga culture this January long weekend, with Gynburra 2018.

It’s a festival that draws on the traditions of the First People of the Guuranda, the Narungga name for the Yorke Peninsula, to create a fun, inclusive family weekend.

The Director of Gynburra 2018 Garry Goldsmith, says it’s an important event for Narungga people.

“Gynburra is an event that celebrates our connection to Guurunda, both our spiritual and cultural connection to that country” he said.

At the core of the festival is a fishing competition that that has been taking place in the waters off Port Victoria each year for around 50 years.

“We’ve been having an event called the Clem Graham Memorial Butterfish competition, which allows men and boys from Narungga to compete in a spearfishing competition to hunt Gynburra, which is butterfish or otherwise known as a Dusky Morwong” Mr Goldsmith said

“So, this competition was mainly for the men and the boys to continue that traditional fishing practice, to provide a feed, and also to win the accolade of the Butterfish King, the person that catches the biggest fish on the day” he explained.

It’s a competition that drew on older traditions of the Narungga community, Mr Goldsmith explains.

“Our people used to use harpoons to hunt this fish. So, there is that cultural connection from passing on knowledge from men to young boys, to continue to get a feed and bring it to your families, and to your community, to celebrate” he said.

Since 2015, the event has broadened, to include activities for the families waiting back on shore.

“From then, it’s just grown in stature and also in attendance with not only the Narungga nation, local people, and the greater Yorke Peninsula community” said Mr Goldsmith.

From having 15 entrants in the competition some years back, the Butterfish King competition has grown and organisers expect around 150 fishermen to be involved this year. The growth is a result of more people visiting for the wider festival.

“People from across South Australia are now coming back to country to celebrate Gynburra because it accommodates everyone, from young and old, to men and women, to Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal” Mr Goldsmith said.

Activities over the weekend include a lunch for elders and a family fun day, which includes a jumping castle and waterslide as well as a movie on the beach. There will be live music by Nancy Bates, Allan Sumner and The MERRg and of course the presenting of the Clem Graham Memorial Butterfi­sh competition winners.

It looks to be a lot of fun and importantly for Mr Goldsmith is an event that supports the recognition of the Narungga as traditional owners of the area.

“You know, for too long on Yorke Peninsula, the recognition and acknowledgement of the Narungga people as traditional owners, has been somewhat lost. Including within our own community, you know, most of us are around central Yorke Peninsula. But we have a beautiful country over here, right down from the bottom end at Marion Bay, right up to the top, towards Port Broughton, and, you know, from east and west” he said.

“We can’t, obviously, get any land back, but what we can claim is that connection to country and have an acknowledgement internally, and also with the wider community

“So we’re saying: look, come and celebrate with the Narungga nations, learn a bit more about the history of Narungga and our people” said Mr Goldsmith.

The Gynburra 2018 festival takes place at Point Pearce and Port Victoria from Thursday 25 January until Saturday 27 January 2018. For more details https://www.gynburra.com/

Listen to Aboriginal Way radio program featuring an interview with Garry Goldsmith on Gynburra 2018 here

By Lucy Kingston


SANTS acknowledges that the land on which our office is based is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and we respect their spiritual and cultural relationship with their country.