FUSE Festival’s Ganbu Gulin promises a stunning ‘alternative to January 26’

FUSE Festival’s Ganbu Gulin promises a stunning ‘alternative to January 26’

Ganbu Gulin
Words by Lucas Radbourne

FUSE Digital kicks off in spectacular fashion this season with Ganbu Gulin, featuring a special performance by First Nations singer-songwriter Pirritu.

Ganbu Gulin means ‘One Mob’ and as a ‘First Nations First’ festival, FUSE Digital’s choice to open its program with a Welcome to Country ceremony makes perfect sense.

The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Welcome to Country ceremony will be live-streamed with Uncle Bill Nicholson on FUSE Digital’s festival site, offering City of Darebin residents a chance to connect to the traditional owners of the land that they live on.

It will also feature a special performance by enchanting Ngiyampaa singer Pirritu (Brett Lee).

What you need to know

  • Ganbu Gulin is the first performance of FUSE Digital’s 2021 Spring program
  • It will be live-streamed on Saturday September 4
  • It features a special musical performance by First Nations songwriter Pirritu

Stay up to date with what’s happening in Melbourne here.

“We’re on Aboriginal land wherever we are,” Lee says. “As an Aboriginal person, I acknowledge every day that I’m a guest on these lands. I’m raising my little three year old daughter to acknowledge that as well.

“The Welcome to Country ceremony is the traditional owners welcoming us to their lands, often with a little smoking ceremony where they’ll smoke gum leaves to cleanse our spirit while we’re walking upon their land. The smoke will cleanse us of any bad spirits.

“There will be a dance and a sharing of knowledge about the culture of the land that you’re upon. In traditional times, those ceremonies went for days.”

The City of Darebin are throwing their weight behind the Change the Date campaign, calling on Australia to change the date of Australia Day, due to the association between British settlement and the subsequent horrific treatment of Indigenous Australians.

“Ganbu Gulin is an alternative to January 26,” Jodee Mundy OAM, Coordinator of FUSE, said.

“It opens FUSE Spring every year. It’s an alternative ritual, with a Welcome to Country and a First Nations program. It’s a unique day when we come together to be ‘one mob’, which is what Ganbu Gulin means. It shows how local communities can create their own day that isn’t the 26th of January.”

“If you look at how easy it’s been for colonisation to divide Aboriginal people among ourselves, it’s really important to acknowledge that there has been a collective experience through history for Aboriginal people,” Lee adds. “It’s about recognising that continued connection to our land and culture.

“10-15 years ago, there wasn’t a narrative around Invasion Day and Survival Day, whereas today we’re living in a climate where it’s front of mind. Ganbu Gulin is an important way to have that narrative all year round, because sometimes it feels like it’s only in people’s minds for one day of the year.”

Lee says there are “depths of story attached” to his body of work, which will see his performance compliment the spiritual nature of the Welcome to Country.

“I will be definitely playing on this day some songs that relate to my family and country,” he says. “I want to bring that story into my performance, which will also contribute to the sentiment of the of the event.

“I’ve just enjoyed creating, writing and sharing stories so much that I’m still still doing it 16 years down the track. As an Aboriginal person you love to be represented in a positive way and contribute to a meaningful portion of the social narrative. I feel really, really privileged and proud to be able to be a part of this.”

Pirritu will be releasing a double-album, the first part of which will come out in the next two months. He’s delighted to be yet another of the myriad First Nations artists revolutionising Australia’s music scene.

“It will be a double-album of the body of work that I’ve created over the last 16 years, which I came to finally release. I’m very excited,” he says.

“It’s really cool to see so many Aboriginal artists out there that are just deadly. Five years ago it wasn’t like that, so seeing all these names pop up and get recognised for their work – hearing them play on the radio – it’s huge. It’s really exciting to see how much young talent is out there.”

Visit FUSE Festival’s website to see the full events program and schedule, or follow them on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Follow Pirritu on Facebook here.