Queensland

Aug 29, 2012

How the opera set put Yarrabah in tune with its past

Last night 1000 locals from the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah sat in the shade of a humongous mango tree to watch an opera. Crikey travelled to Far North Queensland to witness what it meant to locals.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

Last night 1000 locals from the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah sat in the shade of an imposing mango tree — it’s known as the “watery” tree, thanks to its juicy fruit — to watch the debut performance of Opera Australia’s latest production Yarrabah! The Musical.

An hour’s drive from Cairns, Yarrabah has had a fractured existence. It was formed in 1892, when the local indigenous people were convinced to join a mission established by priest John Gribble. Over the following decades, half-caste Aboriginal children from different clans of Queensland were taken from their families to live at Yarrabah in dormitories, where they worked without pay, and the girls were married off at 16.

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3 comments

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3 thoughts on “How the opera set put Yarrabah in tune with its past

  1. Mike Flanagan

    Thanks Amber.
    It is good to read of the Arts attending to their social leadership responsibilities. In fact Opera Australia’s funding used to have a requirement that they toured the outback, but they always ignored the indegenous communities. It is great to read that things are changing.

  2. paddy

    Sounds like a brilliant gig.

  3. LolaGalah

    Yes, wonderful if DanceNorth could base something there as well.

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