Karijini Experience celebrates a unique culture

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
A mix of culture at last year's Karijini Experience.
Camera IconA mix of culture at last year's Karijini Experience. Credit: L.E's Photography

The 2019 Karijini Experience has officially begun, with the cultural event opening yesterday and running until Sunday.

Last week the Pilbara News chatted to the Experience’s original creator Sarah Kemp, Nintirri Centre chief executive James Jarvis and Banjima elder Maitland Parker to find out what makes the event so special.

How did the Karijini Experience start?

Sarah Kemp: We wanted to start the conversation around tourism and in 2013 we had a dinner for 75 people at the Eco Retreat and it’s grown from there. Tourism was such an important opportunity for the Pilbara and to be able to celebrate the environment and cultural values of the region was the driving force behind the Experience.

What makes the Experience unique?

Maitland Parker: It’s a one- of-a-kind event, but more importantly, its main aim is promoting not just Karijini National Park, but the Banjima people, our customs and our cultures.

Sarah: Its authenticity and it’s grounded in the community and the volunteers that are running it. The location helps to make it, but it’s just such an authentic experience of the place and the people in it.

James Jarvis: Over 50 per cent of the events have an Aboriginal content provider and we’ve connected with 13 different Aboriginal language groups. For us this is a future where Aboriginal people can activate and monetise parts of their language and offer that to non-Aboriginal visitors in their own way and time.

What’s different in 2019?

Sarah: Every year the team gets better at delivering the event, and having someone of Dan Sultan’s calibre is really exciting because it shows the event is really on the map as an important regional event in Australia.

James: The art installation from Cheeditha Art Group and Goldberg Aberline Studio is going to be spectacular. There’s just so many really unusual and creative things that you wouldn’t expect to get at Karijini.

Maitland: There is just so much variety, we’ve got a number of artists coming in and and there’s more Aboriginal involvement every year.

What keeps you coming back year after year?

James: It’s absolute bucket list stuff, like at night time when you’re on the airstrip and the Milky Way is as clear as you could ever get it. Or you can go down and listen to someone sing opera in a gorge.

Maitland: I’m a local, I’m at home so people turn to me for advice and they have a great respect for my involvement.

Sarah: It’s a family, for me it’s like coming home every year, being able to ground myself in Karijini.

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