Two Fires Festival

Carrying the flame of Judith Wright's passions …

Two Fires Festival - Carrying the flame of Judith Wright's passions …

Presenter Notes

Jane Ahlquist has worked across the performing arts as playwright, director, actress and singer. She performed at the inaugural Two Fires Festival in 2005. Jane now lives in Majors Creek, where she gardens and paints.

Jeff Aschmann, local singer-songwriter and activist for the environment and indigenous rights. Jeff’s original songs relate to Aboriginal and environmental subject matter and he has performed them widely. He has also worked extensively for the NT  Education Dept. in remote Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory teaching music. He lives on the Deua River and has been involved in many local and national environmental activities.

Aunty Fran Bodkin In her words: “My name is Fran Bodkin and I am a descendant of the D’harawal people of the Bidiagal clan. I am an educator of D’harawal knowledge and hold a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences with five majors, one of which is Environmental Sciences, plus other post graduate degrees. Combining the knowledge passed down through my Aboriginal mother, my University education and  unquenchable journey of lifelong learning, I bring a holistic understanding of the environment.”

Aunty Fran is an Elder on Campus at University of Western Sydney, serving on several UWC committees. She educates young Aboriginal kids at school and prepare them for university, in an endeavour to develop their curiosity about ‘this land’, and to develop their desire to learn about our planet, and the natural sciences.

“We have to learn that we can live in harmony within the environment and do not have to destroy it”.

Aunty Fran has published three books on D’harawal culture, stories and natural resources.

We are honoured to have her present at Two Fires 2019.

Noel Butler, Budawang Elder from the Yuin Nation is a qualified teacher, educator, mentor, horticulturist, chef and historian. Together with his wife Trish, Noel has been teaching, delivering programs and working with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adults and children for over 35 years. Their Aboriginal Cultural Education programs are through “Nuragunyu”, from two Dhurga words “Nura” meaning Country and “Gunyu” meaning Swan. “The things we teach find their origins in history and real life, from an aboriginal perspective. We seek to offer this with sensitivity and respect to all who want to share the experience of this great land we call home. We will talk about bush skills, bush food, history, lifestyle, music, song and dance.”

Judith Clingan AM has spent her life encouraging both children and adults to enjoy making music – singing, playing recorders and other instruments. She founded and directed the Canberra Children’s Choir, the Young Music Society, Sundry Singers, Canberra Recorder and Early Music Society (CREMS), Gaudeamus, Lady’s Mantle, Imagine Music Theatre, Voicebox Youth Opera, Waldorf Wayfarers and The Variables. She has also directed the Canberra Choral Society, SCUNA (ANU Choral Society) and TUCS (Tasmanian University Choral Society). She has composed operas, choral music, chamber music, orchestral music, song cycles, music for plays and films, and music for schools. In recent decades she has spent months of each year touring the world with performers, and assisting Steiner schools in Taiwan, India and Japan to establish music programs.  

Phillippa Cordwell: “Research for my PhD in sociology explored the challenge of Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, recognising the central issue of land dispossession. This brought me to reflect on my own story in this land as a settler Australian, and the missing ingredient of a connection with Indigenous Australia and its story. I grew up in Ngarrindjeri country inland from the Coorong in South Australia where the very-present Ngarrindjeri people were a faded image of history for my childhood awareness. This was on a soldier settlement ‘block’ previously dispossessed from the traditional owners.

TheDjaadjawan Dancers are a traditional female Aboriginal dance group from the Yuin Nation of south-east NSW. The group includes girls, women and Elders from ages 6 to 75 from Wallaga Lake, Narooma and La Perouse in NSW.Since their formation in 2015 by Walbunja woman Sharon Mason, the Djaadjawan Dancers have earned their place as one of the most sought after Aboriginal cultural performance groups in the State.
They perform regularly at respected festivals and events around Australia, and have danced at the Opera House, the 200-year Celebration of Westpac Corp, the opening of Barangaroo precinct in Sydney and the National Folk Festival in Canberra.Djaadjawan means ‘sand’ in Dhurga language, and the group express traditional culture, beliefs and practice through dance and song.
The women make their own costumes and accessories using traditional materials and techniques.When the Djaadjawan Dancers perform, they are dancing, singing, sharing, wearing and expressing their culture. 
Each dance tells a story, or serves a specific purpose, such as their Welcome Dance, Healing Dance or Fishing Dance.Two Fires are delighted to have these Women dance with us again.

Dwayne Bannon Harrison and the Ngaran Ngaran Dancers come to us from Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness (NNCA), which was established in 2011. NNCA is a First Nations owned and operated cultural service provider on the far south coast of NSW on Yuin country. NNCA facilitate cultural awakenings in the tourism, corporate, event and education sectors with a range of services to help ensure that traditional koori cultural ways of knowing get delivered in South Eastern Australia.
Dwayne Bannon-Harrison is the founder and managing director of NNCA, he is also known by his traditional name ‘Naja’ given to him by his grandfather and Yuin elder Uncle Max ‘Dulumunmun’ Harrison. NNCA Dancers perform many dances showcasing Yuin talent, and all stemming from the Yuin dreaming teachings passed down to them.
NNCA Dancers have danced at Local, Regional, State and International events. Their dances are complemented with smoking ceremony, traditional fire sticks, story telling, interpretation and interactive engagement with audience.

Max Dulumunmun Harrison, Uncle Max, is a Walbanga Elder from the south coast, with family links to the Braidwood region. He has been sharing cultural knowledge and wisdom for many decades. Forgiveness and healing are important concerns of his.
Uncle Max has been involved with Two Fires since its inception in 2005, as traditional elder and mentor. Together with family members, he conducts the opening and closing ceremonies for Two Fires, and the traditional welcome to country.
We are honoured to have him here for our 2019 Festival

Johnny Huckle is a Canberra based one man band of extraordinary energy and power. Of Wiradjuri heritage, Johnny writes for children (and adults) and performs at many varied venues including schools.
His “Spirit Man” album contains heartfelt songs of identity and love. He honoured the Two Fires Festival in 2007 with a specially written song “Two Fires Light Our Hearts”, which is included in his latest album “Condo Dreaming”.
You will probably find yourself singing along to this song at Two Fires 2019.

The Joybelles, with Merrilyn Simmons, are a group of local women who have been meeting weekly for the last few years to sing for fun.They learn songs from ear and memory and the songs chosen are drawn from all over the world and include folk, gospel, traditional songs and occasionally originals.
Their  sound is characterised by rich 3 part harmonies, a connection with each other and a love of singing They perform occasionally as the song  spirit moves them and love coming to the 2 fires festival.
All women are welcome to join and will be made very welcome.

Harry Laing is a local poet, children’s author, creative writing teacher, and comic performer. Oh and a committed environmental activist. His sequence of poems “Heated” (from his collection Backbone) is a personal take on global warming. He lives beside Monga Forest near Braidwood.

Humphrey McQueen is a Canberra-based freelance historian, writer and activist. His books deal with Aborigines, international relations, media, political economy, trade unions, the environment and the visual arts. For sixty years he has engaged in struggles for social equality.
The on-going implosion in the expansion of capital sparked his current investigations into the origins of capitalism.
A selection of his writings is accessible on
Humphrey got to know Judith Wright as a schoolboy reading her poems, later meeting her through mutual friends.
He never tires of reminding people of Judith’s role in the fight to save the Great Barrier Reef from oil drilling back in the 1960’s, and particularly of her respect for the actions of the Queensland Trades and Labor Council, which successfully saved the Reef, then. 

David Marsh. Boorowa grazier David Marsh is acknowledged for alerting primary producers to the fact that a healthy catchment and long-term profitability go hand in hand. He was pivotal in the early establishment of the Landcare movement, and David’s property “Allendale” has long been a proving ground for sympathetic land management.
David was one of the first people in the Boorowa district to use direct seeding techniques for planting trees, and his on-ground practice has been hugely influential in educating other landholders, with the Marsh family hosting thousands of visitors to their property since 1989.
David has also shared his knowledge away from the farm, addressing over 50 farmer groups and conferences across Australia on holistic management, planning for drought, healthy soils and biodiversity.

Millpost Farm: David Watson and Judith Turley. The discovery of a site of significant Aboriginal heritage has brought farmers and Traditional Owners in NSW together in a rare collaboration. Indigenous archaeologist and anthropologist Dave Johnston discovered an ancient axe quarry site on a NSW property called “Millpost” that has now been listed on the New South Wales special sites register.
Since then the owners of the property, the Watsons, and the Traditional Owners of the area, the Ngunnawal and Nambri people have cooperated to protect and promote the area. It’s a rare collaboration because very few sites of significant Aboriginal heritage listed in NSW are on privately held land. The Watsons are local landcare champions and graziers who have worked tirelessly to improve the cleared and windswept landscape.
The landscape is now dominated by trees planted over the past few decades: 15 kilometres of windbreaks and woodlots that join remnant native vegetation to form wildlife corridors, while sheltering stock, wildlife and pasture from the desiccating summer winds and the winter gales.
The trees also provide firewood for our hearth, timber for building, and fodder for the sheep during the extremes of our seasons.

Nausicaa “…equal parts Paul Simon and Nick Drake. It’s wonderful, beautiful…” Dave Faulkner, The Saturday PaperPoems and myths set into musical motion. Nausicaa has performed alongside the likes of Tiny Ruins, Angie Hart (Frente) and Ben Salter and premiered works at Dark Mofo (Tasmania), the Woodford Folk Festival, and the Queensland Poetry Festival. “Silence”, based on a poem by Judith Wright, is Nausicaa’s first release.
The brainchild of Simon Munro, Nausicaa grew out of his work as an arts producer with poetry/music project Borrowed Verse.
Prior to creating Nausicaa, Munro released four solo albums under the alias Alex Bell.  A singer-songwriter from Brisbane, Simon has for the past few years been compiling a number of song adaptations of Judith Wright’s poetry.
His goal for 2019 is to record an album of these musical adaptations of Judith Wright’s poetry, and Two Fires is delighted to have him present these new JW adaptations at 2FF2019.Nausicaa is featured in the Saturday night program at Smokey Horse.

Margo Neale, is the lead curator of the Songlines exhibition that was 10 years in the making. She is Head of the Indigenous Knowledges Centre, Senior Indigenous Curator & Adviser to the Director at the National Museum of Australia.
Margo lived and worked in Arnhem Land in the 1970s, Christmas Island in the 1980s before working at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery New South Wales and the Queensland Art Gallery.  She has curated major national and international exhibitions such as the retrospective on Emily Kame Kngwarreye that went to Tokyo, urban artist Lin Onus and curated the Vatican’s century-old Indigenous collection for the Canonisation of Mary Mackillop.
Margo is an Adjunct Professor at ANU and has published some 11 books including the Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture. She has been advisor to successive governments and appointed to PM Rudd’s Summit of ideas.
Margo lives in the bush out of Braidwood, when not having to be elsewhere in the world.

John Newton is a freelance writer, journalist, novelist and teacher. His most recent books are The Roots of Civilisationplants that changed the world and A Savage History: whaling in the  Pacific and Southern Oceans: and The Oldest Foods  on Earth: the story of Australian native produce, with recipes, was published in March 2016.
John has won many awards for his  writing including the Golden Ladle for Best Food Journalism in the 2005 World Food Media Awards. The Oldest Foods on Earth was the national winner in The 2016 Gourmand Awards in the category: Best Culinary History Book. The citation read: “This encyclopedic book will become a classic. It is very well researched and written with passion, experience,  and real practical knowledge.” 
His latest book, The Getting of Garlic: Australian food from bland to brilliant with recipes old and new was published in October  2018.John’s talk at Two Fires is titled “No we don’t have an Australian food culture and it doesn’t really matter. What we have is better.”

Franny Peters-Little is a Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay woman, a filmmaker, historian and performing artist. She has a BA in Communications from UTS (1991) and a Masters of Philosophy in History from the ANU (2002). Frances has worked in film, television and radio for more than 30 years starting out in community radio at 2RSR and Radio Redfern in the mid-1980s.
She began her career as an international award-winning filmmaker in the late 1980s and is well-known for her films Tent Embassy and Vote Yes For Aborigines. Her connection with Yuin country and Braidwood is through her late father Jimmy Little;
Franny is a deeply committed trustee for the Jimmy Little Foundation. She is also writing two books: Yorta Yorta Man (the biography of her father) and her own untitled autobiography. Franny performs as a singer/songwriter for Australian audiences.

Bronwyn Richards and Helen Lynch own and run Wynlen House, a small enterprise following the age-old tradition of growing organic food to be consumed locally. At Wynlen House Urban Micro Farm they grow vegetables, and raise sheep. poultry and pigs for meat on a large suburban block in the village of Braidwood, NSW. Their passion for garlic growing is fulfilled with their garlic partner at Clarevale Farm, Braidwood where, with Victoria Royds, they grow early, mid and late season garlic.
The Farm’s freshly harvested produce is sold every Saturday morning in Braidwood’s main street from a market stall. Bronwyn Richards, a former vet nurse, welfare rights advocate and administrative appeals specialist is the farm’s principal gardener. Bronwyn has had a lifelong passion for growing food and raising healthy farm animals and poultry with care and respect. 
Helen and Bronwyn also offer a vegetable gardening consultancy, and on-farm and online workshops teaching market gardening, garlic growing and aspects of animal husbandry to homesteaders, backyard gardeners and aspiring small mixed farmers.  This utilises Helens skills and background as an educational designer in the university and TAFE sector where she designed learning experiences for adults specialising in the use of new technologies for learning.

Margy Rose comes to Two Fires from Tamborine Mountain. Through the language of music she offers an expression of Judith Wright’s poetry – “Voicings”. Although perhaps best known for her “Piaf from the Heart” cabaret tribute, singer/musician/actor Margy s a huge fan of Judith Wright. Margy lives on Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, as did Judith. In 2015, Margy played the part of Judith in Janis Bailey’s play “Hearts Ablaze”.
Margy, as vocalist/guitarist in trio “The Music Doctors” is currently working in Aged Care and on a “Showbiz Project” for young adults with disabilities.

Martin Royds is a fifth generation beef cattle farmer from Braidwood, New South Wales. His family arrived in the district in the early 1842. Martin himself has been farming since the 1980s and knows his land very well. His main farm, ‘Jillamatong’ is 450 hectares, and manages another 1200 hectares in the district. His goal is “is to manage the land to be commercially profitable, regenerative and an enjoyable place for family and friends to be.”
Martin was an early adopter of chemicals and no till farming, but later decided to make some changes. After doing some homework, and meeting with agricultural researchers and other farmers, Martin is now passionate about making a difference by working with nature, building resilience by increasing soil carbon on his land.
Martin feels very strongly about climate change, its impacts, and supporting renewable energy sources. He is particularly excited by the way solar is getting much cheaper and battery storage is improving.

Vera Sapov – living in the forest’s embrace in Mongarlowe, Vera has ample time to observe and reflect. She scribbles away the hours, just like the insects on the gums, jotting down ideas here and there. Occasionally she shares these random jottings with others, revealing the joy that word-play can bring.Not that long ago, Judith Wright lived next door and used to walk down through the land to the river, where Vera now wanders.
Judith’s spirit lingers; our footsteps mingle. Perhaps our thoughts do likewise, from time to time.

Us Mob Writing:

  • Michelle Ngingmangalli Bedford is an Aboriginal woman from the Jaru-Kija people in the East Kimberley.  Michelle has poetry in By Close of Business and Too Deadly, and is a keen photographer, artist and into crystal healing.
  • Paul Collis is a Barkindji man, born in Bourke, far western NSW on the Darling River.  Dancing Home is his first novel and won the national 2016 David Unaipon Award for a previously unpublished Indigenous writer and the 2018 ACT Book of the Year award.
  • Samantha Faulkner is a Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal woman.  She is the author of Life Blong Ali Drummond: A Life in the Torres Strait and has poetry and short stories published locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Chella Goldwin is an Erubian woman and traditional owner from Erub Island and the Meriam Mir language group in the Eastern Torres Strait islands.  She is a writer, poet and tamed activist.
  • Tjanara Goreng-Goreng is a Wakka Wakka/Wulli Wulli woman from Central Queensland and the author of A Long Way from No Go, her memoir.  She is a published poet, writer, performer of traditional song and dance and contemporary Murri artist. 
  • Samia Goudie is a Bundjalung woman on her mother’s side and was adopted and grew up in Canberra due to the policies of the time.  Samia has a passion for writing, making films, telling stories and using new media in art exhibitions and installations.
  • Joyce Graham is a Kamilaroi woman from Moree who found her love of poetry as a mature aged student.  Joyce has poetry published in By Close of Business and Too Deadly.
  • Marissa McDowell is a Wiradjuri woman on her father’s side born in Cowra NSW.  She has poetry published in Ora Nui,Overland’s Emerging Poet Series and Too Deadly.
  • Marissa McDowell is a Wiradjuri woman on her father’s side born in Cowra NSW.  She has poetry published in Ora Nui,Overland’s Emerging Poet Series and Too Deadly.

Canberra Ukelele Group is a group drawn from the Uke Community of Canberra who expressed a desire to participate in Two Fires and present Jessie Lloyd’s “Mission Songs Project” in a singalong style.

Chris Watkins has a popular presence in the main street of Braidwood, playing his cello at the Visitors Information Centre during his weekly shift. None of the other volunteers there come close to matching his local and interstate fan base. 

Noel Webster has over the last 15 years been working together with the local Aboriginal community to develop approaches to land management that recognise the cultural values of biodiversity and the environment. Through previous employment as an Indigenous ranger with NPWS, he has expanded an appreciation and ability to recognise the cultural values of the environment.
He has completed Tertiary studies in Natural and cultural resource management, and his qualifications include:

  • Graduate Diploma in Natural and Cultural Resource Management, Deakin University.
  • Bachelor of Science – Human Geography, Wollongong University.
  • Diploma in Indigenous Archaeology, University of New England.

Noel currently holds the position of Aboriginal Community Support Officer (ACSO) with Local Land Services.
Mudjingaalbaraga Firesticks is a project that Noel has initiated and managed through Nowra Local Aboriginal Land Council, to initiate discussion on Traditional Knowledge Systems amongst local Aboriginal community groups and to develop and implement Traditional burn practices on Country.
The project used low intensity fire (cool burn) to undertake a strategic approach to control local weed species, reduce fire hazard fuels, reconstruct Traditional Aboriginal landscapes, and restore native vegetation to improve biodiversity outcomes on Aboriginal community lands that have been exposed to the impacts of mistreatment and lack of recognition to Traditional land management practices.
The project included a workshop to teach local community to understand landscapes, how to read the fire indicators, and when to apply the appropriate fire knowledge.