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Messages of welcome from Gadigal land for Sydney New Year’s Eve

An age-old Aboriginal custom is at the heart of this year’s Calling Country ceremony.

Calling Country Whale

We’ll welcome a new decade, more than 1 million visitors to the harbour and 1 billion viewers across the globe.

A symbolic message stick will be presented to Sydney as a gift from the Gadigal people. The ceremony will welcome Sydney and the world to Gadigal land.

Message sticks are an ancient Aboriginal custom that enables safe passage across boundaries.

Calling Country Whale
Calling Country Whale

The symbolic gesture forms part of the Calling Country ceremony that includes a smoking ceremony, music and dance.

Projections will light up the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons depicting summer time stories in Sydney.

Creative consultant Rhoda Roberts AO said gifting the message stick is a symbolic gesture of continuous communication with the city.

Calling Country Roos
Calling Country Roos

“For New Year’s Eve, the message stick is a gift to the people, acknowledging Sydney for recognising the lands and the First Peoples of the city,” Rhoda said.

“The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council has regenerated this ancient practice, paying homage to the old ways of crossing territories and communication.”

Rhoda has worked closely with Artists in Motion to develop the stunning pylon projections, which tell the stories of the hot and dry January season.

Calling Country Wattle
Calling Country Wattle

“This year we look at the depth and wisdom of reading country, listening to the movement of the 6 seasons and honouring the water that gives us life,” Rhoda said.

“Our story focuses on the season of January and the estuaries that have always flowed and connected the clans to the deep water.

“Our Calling Country features the song of the whale as we call the clans. The call and response is heard as the smoking commences and our warrior arrives carrying the message stick as the women begin the cleansing.

“And like the old ways, we still gather to connect on the harbour, to feast, celebrate the abundance, to laugh, think and play.

“As our nations join forces to help those who are suffering from drought and fire, we are reminded of the precious gift we have inherited and the stewardship we continue as the First Nations People of country.”

This year’s official charity partner is the Refugee Council of Australia.

Stay updated on Sydney New Year’s Eve and use #SydNYE.