Gulkula, The Home of Garma

The significant Gumatj ceremonial site and the home of the annual Garma Festival

Misty morning in Arnhem Land (2018) by Teagan GlenaneYothu Yindi Foundation

Welcome to Gulkula

Located in the Arnhem Land region in the northeast corner of the Northern Territory of Australia - where Yolŋu have lived for over 60,000 years.

Buŋgul dancers at the Garma Festival (2018) by Teagan GlenaneYothu Yindi Foundation

This is the land of the mighty Yolŋu ancestor Ganbulapula, a master of the ceremonies who brought the yiḏaki (didgeridoo) into existence, and named all the places and animals and trees in the area.

Detail of the Garma site (2022) by Butter Media Pty LtdYothu Yindi Foundation

The late Gumatj clan leader Mungurrawuy Yunupingu described Gulkula as “an all encompassing philosophical, physical, cosmological, theoretical place” where Yolŋu “have danced from the beginning”.

Stringy bark tree dancing at night (2016) by Melanie Faith DoveYothu Yindi Foundation

At night on the escarpment, the grey stringy-bark trees appear to move in their stillness, and when the wind blows in the afternoon, the trees dance with each other; movement which is sung and danced in ceremony.

Raypirri hands (2022) by Melanie Faith DoveYothu Yindi Foundation

In Yolŋu culture, the stringy-barks have many names, including the Dhuwa moiety name ‘Gadayka’.

Gumatj dancers taking part in buŋgul (2022) by Butter Media Pty LtdYothu Yindi Foundation

In August, Gadayka is in flower, and small bees turn its nectar into honey, an action celebrated in Yolŋu ceremony.

Drone over the Garma bunggul ground (2022) by Peter EveYothu Yindi Foundation

In the mid-1960’s, many of the trees on the escarpment were bulldozed and burned - without the consent of the Yolŋu landowners -  to make way for a rocket-tracking station.

Sunset evening at Garma (2019) by Peter EveYothu Yindi Foundation

More than half a century later, Gulkula is at the forefront of the space industry again, with a new rocket-launching facility established by the Australian Space Agency - this time with the approval of Traditional Owners.  

Garma audience at sunset (2022) by Peter EveYothu Yindi Foundation

Since 1999, the site has also been home to the annual Garma Festival, Australia’s largest Indigenous cultural exchange event. 

Gumatj women during bunggul (2015) by Melanie Faith DoveYothu Yindi Foundation

Garma is a vibrant and colorful 4-day gathering and a celebration of Yolŋu life and culture, filled with arts, music, dance, ceremony song.

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