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5 maja 2009
After K'Ozzie Fest 09 (updated version)
Ursula Lang

Paul McLeod with Fest organizers
The participation of The Traditional Dancers of the Monaro under the direction of Paul McLeod, at this year's recent K'Ozzie Fest 09, in Jindabyne and Cooma, was truly a significant event!

Festival organizers, Ernestyna Skurjat-Kozek and Ursula Lang, had engaged in consultations with elders and family members of the Ngarigo people over a two-year period, under the guidance of NPWS Regional Manager (Snowy Mountains), Dave Darlington. The talks were aimed at developing new understandings about such persons as General Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki, but also to get to know each other better. Ernestyna and Ursula formally invited the Aboriginal community to the Festival at these meetings.

The theme of this year's K'Ozzie Fest was, "Achieving Together". This theme was adopted to try and explore the special teamship and friendship which was enjoyed by Strzelecki and his Aboriginal guides Charlie Tarra and Jackey. Their joint success in climbing Australia's highest mountain and other expeditions in the Gippsland district of Victoria, can be attributed to that teamwork. The contributions made by the guides was specifically acknowledged through the Strzelecki Graphic Competition which was a great and innovative component of the Festival, with prize winners announced and all artworks displayed during the festivities in both towns.

The participation of the Aboriginal dancers was made possible through the financial support of NPWS, for which the organizers were very grateful. It was also Dave Darlington's experience and wisdom in encouraging Ernestyna and Ursula to liaise and negotiate directly with the Aboriginal group, which made the resultant cultural exchange so much more meaningful and personal. Both ladies plan to follow up on an invitation to the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Reservation, Jervis Bay, at the earliest opportunity.

In lead dancer Joseph Brown-McLeod's own words, in an email after the Festival, he said, "Thanks for inviting us - it was wonderful! We hope to catch up with your mob soon."

What a great Aussie term - "MOB!"

This looks like the start of a new partnership with some very positive outcomes for a few different "mobs" coming together, I think.

Ursula Lang

From: Snowy River Echo, May 2009 Edition

Snowy River Echo, May 2009

Snowy River Echo, May 2009

From Snowy Times, May 2009