Indigenous stories in the spotlight this NAIDOC Week

01 Jul 2022

A new film that tells the story of how the local Indigenous language was recorded and preserved in Newcastle 200 years ago will premiere on Sunday as part of Newcastle's NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Biraban and Threlkeld: Finding the Third Space was created by local filmmakers Stories of Our Town with support from a City of Newcastle community grant, to tell the story of how missionary Reverend Threlkeld and local Indigenous figure Biraban worked together to preserve the local Aboriginal language.

The film will be premiered at Newcastle Civic Theatre on the first day of NAIDOC Week celebrations, which run from 3 – 10 July across Australia, with this year's theme 'Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! ', promoting the importance of systemic change.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the film screening is among a number of events on offer throughout NAIDOC Week that celebrate the stories and rich history of the oldest continuous living culture on Earth.

"NAIDOC Week is an extremely important time of year and an opportunity for our community to acknowledge that the story of Australia began far before European settlement, while recognising that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for our land for over 65,000 years," Cr Nelmes said.

"This year the theme for NAIDOC Week is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up, in support of systematic change to keep rallying for our Indigenous communities. Biraban and Threlkeld: Finding the Third Space, reflects this theme by telling the story of two men, one Aboriginal and one European, who stood up for the local language through their unique connection.

"I encourage our community to celebrate our Indigenous culture this NAIDOC Week and take advantage of the free events on offer throughout the city."

Biraban and Threlkeld: Finding the Third Space will screen at The Civic Theatre and will be followed by a Q&A session hosted by Councillor Carol Duncan, founder of the Lost Newcastle website.

A second film, Wash My Soul in the River's Flow, which celebrates the creative lives of First Nations people and is a cinematic reinvention of the legendary Kura Tungar – Songs from the River concert, will screen at the Civic Theatre on Sunday 9 July. Both film screenings are free and bookings can be made online at

To celebrate NAIDOC Week, Newcastle Art Gallery and Newcastle Libraries will host free interactive Torres Strait Islander storytelling and art workshops for children and families led by local Torres Strait Islander artist Toby Cedar on 2 and 3 July. The drop-in workshops will be held at Newcastle City and Lambton Libraries and further information can be found online at

Awabakal is marking NAIDOC Week on Friday 15 July with a Family Fun Day, commencing with a flag raising in Civic Park at 9am followed by a march to Foreshore Park where family friendly celebrations featuring performances from dancers, the Quokkas, the Cooee Project and Mitch Tambo will commence at 10am.

City of Newcastle has also supported the Cooee Projecta professional creative and cultural mentoring program for local First Nations young people, with sessions held throughout June, culminating in a performance at the Newcastle NAIDOC Family Fun Day.

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia annually in the first week of July to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.