Darwin conferences deliver cultural impact

The depth and diversity of authentic cultural experiences in Darwin provide business event planners staging events at the multi award-winning Darwin Convention Centre with a wealth of creative ways to integrate culture into their conference programs.

Australia is home to the oldest continuous living culture on earth and in the Northern Territory, Aboriginal people represent over 30 percent of the NT’s total population. In Darwin, opportunities abound to engage with the Larrakia People, the traditional owners of the Darwin region, with engagement potentially enabling not only cultural appreciation but a valued legacy outcome.

The recent ‘Meet Darwin’ familiarisation event, which was jointly hosted by the Darwin Convention Centre and NT Business Events, provided scope to showcase a number of Darwin’s exemplar cultural experiences.

The ‘Meet Darwin’ group were provided with a Welcome to Country ceremony on arrival.

On arrival in Darwin, the ‘Meet Darwin’ participants were greeted by a moving ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony presented by Larrakia representatives of a local youth organisation on the lawns near the convention centre.

The Youth Mill is a program development service which provides young people with a range of up-skilling activities from creative arts and recreation to practical skills and employment pathways. These young performers can also provide music and dance performances for conferences, often combining traditional and contemporary culture in a totally new way.

Another highlight for ‘Meet Darwin’ attendees was the Saltwater Ceremony which was conducted at the Darwin Waterfront Lagoon by senior Larrakia Elder, Dr Richard Fejo, who is Chairman of the Darwin Waterfront Corporation.

Saltwater Ceremony at the Darwin Waterfront Lagoon.

On a sunny Darwin afternoon, Dr. Fejo warmly invited group members to enter the lagoon at ankle-depth and make a truly meaningful connection with the Larrakia People and their 65,000-year-old culture. A number of ‘Meet Darwin’ attendees identified this experience as a stand-out highlight of their visit to Darwin.

“The Saltwater Ceremony at the Waterfront was wonderful and enabled us to be involved and make a connection with the local Indigenous culture,” Australian Psychological Society head of events Paula Rowntree said.

“You really feel the spiritual connection between the Aboriginal community, the Larrakia People, and country and I was so impressed by the way they take you with them on that journey.”

The Darwin Convention Centre’s signature dining experience, the ‘Seven Seasons Dinner’ is another way for delegates to enjoy sensory cultural immersion.

The Seven Seasons Dinner table decor featured beautiful native wildflowers.

For the Larrakia People, the year is divided into seven seasons with each one providing a bounty of local produce. Menus are inspired by the Gulumoerrgin (Larrakia) seasonal calendar with dishes enhanced by delicious NT flavours such as lemon myrtle, wattle-seed, finger lime, river mint along with cuisine specialities such as NT barramundi, mud crab, buffalo and crocodile.

Each course is introduced by accompanying sound and vision which explains the different seasons, with the option to extend the cultural tone with live music and dance performances by local organisations, The Youth Mill and the NT Dance Company. The Seven Seasons Dinner is available as a three-course banquet or a seven-course degustation experience.

Conference planners staging an event at the Darwin Convention Centre have an opportunity to consider culturally-inspired gifts for their business event delegates, speakers and VIPs. Aboriginal Bush Traders provides a cultural hub in Darwin and the 100% not-for-profit organisation is committed to selling ethically sourced and sustainable products that directly support local Aboriginal communities. Their shop and gallery offer a diverse range which includes carvings, weavings and paintings, bushfood pantry items, clothing and beauty products.

‘Meet Darwin’ delegates admire baskets at Aboriginal Bush Traders.

Participants on the recent four-day ‘Meet Darwin’ event also enjoyed a bushfood-inspired breakfast presented on the Speakers Green Terrace at Parliament House by award-winning caterer and training organisation, The Karen Sheldon Group. Based in Darwin, the organisation is renowned for its commitment to ‘Closing the Gap’ on Indigenous economic disadvantage by inspiring, training and mentoring Aboriginal job-seekers.

“The ‘Meet Darwin’ program that we recently jointly hosted with Northern Territory Business Events provided the perfect showcase of cultural experiences in Darwin,” Darwin Convention Centre general manager Peter Savoff said.

“We warmly invite planners to integrate traditional culture into their Darwin conference programs and we’ve shown how easily that can be achieved. We know that the meaningful engagement outcomes will make a genuine contribution to the event’s success.”

For more information, visit www.darwinconvention.com.au


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