Cultural exchange project with Jamie Ah Fat

Jamie recently spent a week on the Sunshine Coast in a project organised by Rene Bahloo, of Weavery. What a beautiful experience it was to share time with this traditional knowledge holder from Arnhem Land and to learn about the making and playing of the didjeridoo. They call this ceremonial instrument ‘ganbark’ in the central arnhem Dalabon language, other names are yidaki, bambu, muhgool and just plain ‘stick’. It is made from the naturally termite-hollowed trunk of a particular species and shape of eucalyptus tree, then sanded and shaped to length for the level of sound desired. Jamie Ah Fat learned to play the ganbark from ceremony leader David Blanasi and the traditional cultural group White Cockatoo, and had his debut at the first Barunga Festival of indigenous culture in the early 1970’s. White Cockatoo were the  group of traditional knowledge holders and ceremony men who had travelled all the way to London in 1970 to play for the queen of England, on her birthday. David Blanasi was known for many years in the Arnhem Land region as the mago style didj master, and his crafting and playing skills were legendary. Jamie inherited much of the knowledge he holds through ceremony and through the mentoring of his maternal grandfather, Fred Blitner.

This cultural sharing project with Jamie Ah Fat is the first to touch our Sunshine Coast shores, and served as a taster for Jamie who is fuelled to share his knowledge before he leaves this earth and his knowledge gets lost.

The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

An amazing thing happened during the course of our workshops – an impromptu collaboration/ music jam between Jamie Ah Fat and Velvet Pesu (singer and performance artist), a weaving workshop participant present on the day – just listen to this Please enter the url to a YouTube video.! And it then became a performance at the Powerhouse in Brisbane, which resulted in this! Please enter the url to a YouTube video.

We are happy to discuss future projects and collaborations in order to bring this experience and knowledge to your community.

Please enter the url to a YouTube video.

The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

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Weavery to share with African bushman community


29 July 2016




Kalahari Desert Festival is an annual forum for the celebration of Indigenous African culture and dissemination of knowledge in the Northern Cape, South Africa.


We would like to extend an invitation to Rene Bahloo of Weavery to present a talk/workshop at our academic venue titled ‘Weaving with natural fibres in Australia and Africa’ at the 2016 festival.


Please let us know if you will be able to attend.




Hennie Swart





Background and Objectives


The Kalahari Desert Festival (KDF) is run by the South African San Institute

(SASI), an independent NGO, which has been in existence for 17 years. SASI

stands as a support organisation to the !Xun, Khwe and ‡Khomani Communities

in South Africa.


The cultural heritage of indigenous people has become a global concern.

However, in Southern Africa, the descendants of the region’s ‘First People’, the

San or Bushmen, are among the most marginalised. While the Bushmen and

their descendants exist on the fringes of society, elbowed out by culturally

dominant groups, there is a profusion of academic work and stories being told about the First Nations. These stories and publications hardly ever make their way back to the people who are at the heart of it all. In some of the areas where SASI works, people are completely bereft of effective, modern communication.


A feasibility study conducted by SPACE (Smart Partnerships in Art and Cultural

Enterprises) lead to the idea of the KDF being adopted by SASI. The main

objective of the KDF is to uplift the Desert people, especially indigenous

communities and to create social cohesion. The annual festival will be hosted by SASI on the property of the the ‡Khomani San in the Southern Kalahari.


The product consists of a three-day desert festival held annually with main and side events programmed for the duration of the festival. The festival site is in the

Kalahari, in and around the //Uruke Kalahari Bush Camp established by the San

community on their community land.


The aim of the festival is to represent the convergence of Music, Art, Dance,

Craft, Custom, Culture and Heritage of Desert People and portraying the life

of Indigenous people. It thus celebrates the understanding and the diversity

represented by the life and environment of desert people across the continent. It

has the potential to facilitate and inform social, political and cultural discourse

on relevant issues such as desertification, globalization, poverty, etc. It also can

make an enormous contribution to the economic, infrastructural and

developmental elements in order to showcase the work of the San – linking all

the projects SASI is involved with, from the arts and craft and theatrical

production to song and dance as well as food.


The Kalahari Desert Festival is an annual event on the calendar of festivals

within the province of the Northern Cape, South Africa.






























Weaving journey to Arnhem Land 2016

‘Gunbalanya welcomes you’ the sign reads. As we drive into the remote Indigenous community in west Arnhem Land, I can feel the welcoming spirit of the land. My family is waiting there… Adopted family, spirit family – Priscilla, Sylvia, Merrill, Lorraine… Christine is still in Darwin. They’re waiting for us to arrive so we can begin our journey together. 

Wet season has just ended, the pandanus is lush and the ground is soft and springy with latent growth. Perfect for harvesting fibre and digging up dye plants: yellow, brown, orange. Stripping, stripping – stripping pandanus leaf fibre, not clothes! (even though it’s hot enough😊). Sitting under the shade of a paperbark tree, we work together, sometimes in contemplative silence, sometimes with bouts of laughter and advice from our weaving mentors. 

As the dye pots bubble, so the fire sizzles with the preparation of a surprise lunchtime snack – a long-necked turtle from Lorraine’s mother in stone country. Yum! Tastes like chicken! Haha… Chewy chicken. Eating an unlaid turtle egg is a bit strange though… 

A big crocodile lurks in the waters of the nearby rock hole, somewhere… Or so the rumour goes… but nobody (including me) is keen to test the story out… ‘GINGA! (croc) You kids stay close!’ is the call to the younger members of our crew. 

Travelling in flow with the universe means that we are open to unexpected delights, like a visit to the Pandanus Man spirit – first in his manifestation as an ancient rock painting, then in his form in physical reality – a ‘flat-one’ pandanus plant. Notice his six fingers which indicate he is a cheeky spirit – pregnant mums and small kids must avert their haze for fear of young minds being stolen. 

Three- legged dog dreaming rock was another unexpected sight to behold. Perched on (yes) three legs, the rock towers above us, holding space for the dreaming ancestor female dog who broke her leg and couldn’t continue on her journey through the landscape to find water. 

Fun and humour travelled with us in the bus, chuckling with mirth as we told stories and shared memories. Snakes crossed our path, brolgas browsed, wild pigs grunted, brumbies galloped by: all in the space of a moment in infinite time. Spirit crossed the country alongside us, guiding and guarding. 

It was a lifetime too soon when our days in this land came to an end. Hearts filled with warmth and glow, minds silent in contemplative awe, we made our way back to our everyday lives, infinitely richer for being given time our spirit family of wonderful weaving women, in this place and space of healing.

The next journey is from 15 – 20 July 2016, the last of the year. Join us if you feel the calling. adventurejuly16/

Weaving Arnhem Land connections on the Sunshine Coast – with workshop details for May 2016.

Here are the final dates for workshops and events with Christine Nabobbob – check them out – they fit all shapes and sizes.

Workshops and meetups are in Eudlo, Pomona, Maleny, Brisbane, Bribie and Caloundra.

And of course, our special weaving journey to Christine’s country – weaving and culture journeys to Arnhem Land in June and July 2016.

Ilkley (near Eudlo) Wilson rd

Sunday 22nd May 10am – 3pm

Weaving with Priscilla Badari and Rene Bahloo


$120 (optional $40 extra for a pack of super special Arnhem Land fibre – pandanus spiralus – prepared and dyed by Christine )

Caloundra, Moffat beach

Monday 23rd May 2pm – 4pm

Weaving with Priscilla Badari and Rene Bahloo $45

Pomona, Noosa Landcare Future’s centre, Pavillion street

Wednesday 25th May 10am – 1pm

Weaving with Rene, culture sharing and yarning with Priscilla Badari

Bribie Island

Friday 27th May 10.30am – 1.30pm

Weaving with Priscilla Badari and Rene Bahloo


Brisbane Mt Coot-tha Botanic gardens

Saturday 28th May 10am – 3pm

Weaving with Priscilla Badari and Rene Bahloo (Twining)


Maleny, Mary Cairncross Park

Sunday 29th May 2pm – 4pm

Weaving with Priscilla Badari and Rene Bahloo


All workshops involve cultural exchange, knowledge and skill sharing through informal yarning and practical (technical) weaving workshops/demonstrations.  We welcome interactive participation, and sharing from each member of the workshop.

Don’t forget our Arnhem Land weaving and culture journeys:

Journey 1 –  3-8 June 2016 – $1900 – uncatered (one concession/assistant spot now available at $1200)

Journey 2 –  15-20 July 2016 – $2250 – catered

A meaningful travel experience – of connection to self, to Australian Indigenous culture and weaving. Come and share time on land with Christine Nabobbob and Priscilla Badari as we weave our lives and culture together in community.



Hey Hey Heyfield – an artist residency in Gippsland.

 Shortlisted. Phone interview. Laughter. Connection. And a welcome email. Yay!  A week in Gippsland for me. 

Gippsland, Victoria? I’ve never been there before. Brrrr, it sounds cold, but my heart is filled with joy… What a bonus – a chance to travel and do what I do best – weave, play and share. 

Well I’m on the train on my way home after a magnificent week of intensive teaching, garden scouring, fibre twirling and tribe gathering. The residency, funded by creative Gippsland and Wellington shire council, was all about community engagement. And that we did, and we did it well. 

An amazing group of weavers has emerged. All addicted… To plants and using them for creative purposes 😊. But even more than that, this little group of new friends have decided to keep the momentum growing and to meet up regularly for weaving together, and for sharing their journeys in life, for real connection and community. A true container of joy for me. 

I contemplate my relatively solitary childhood and ponder the wisdom of the workings of universe, unfolding in perfect divine flow. My life is now spent gathering tribes together – from little pockets of weavers near me, and far from me, to sitting in circle with groups as far away as the African Kalahari. Gathering the sisterhood, weaving, weaving, weaving the fibres of our lives together.

Weaving the masterpiece of life together, one revolution at a time. Thank you Heyfield, for inviting me to sow the seeds of another revolution in our collective basket. 😊


Please leave your shoes at the door.

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