Cultural and creative life

Timeless welcome for Sydney New Year’s Eve

Sydney celebrates an age-old Aboriginal tradition on the eve of the International Year of Indigenous languages.

SydNYE18 Calling Country image3

The first Calling Country to feature in Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will welcome all to the city and Gadigal land.

A series of spectacular animations will open with the words bujari gamarruwa, which means ‘welcome’ in Gadigal language.

Sydney New Year’s Eve creative director, Rhoda Roberts AO, said the cultural protocol has real significance, with 2019 named UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous languages.

“It’s fitting we begin our new welcome in words of the Gadigal we can all embrace,” Ms Roberts said.

The traditional ceremony will see animations of water, birds, fish and plants, beamed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.

The 5-minute display starts at 9.08pm on New Year’s Eve. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Harbour of Light Parade vessels and Luna Park’s ferris wheel will be lit up in red for the ceremony.

In developing the ceremony, Ms Roberts drew on mythologies and images of travelling through country to reflect traditional and modern connections to Sydney Harbour.

“We’re lucky to celebrate the dawning of a new year around this beautiful harbour that many of us use for transport, for food and to swim in. The harbour gives us joy and keeps us connected.

“This tradition connects with this year’s theme for New Year’s Eve – the pulse of Sydney. The harbour really is at the heart of this great city.

“Calling Country is all about inclusion and bringing people together. We’re inviting all to a deeper embrace of First Nations cultures and traditions.”

Calling Country will be part of the live ABC New Year’s Eve broadcast and outdoor concert at the Sydney Opera House, with a Welcome in language by Joel Davison accompanied by a musical performance led by Ngiyampaa man Eric Avery.

A traditional New Year’s Eve Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by Gadigal Elders will also take place on the harbour at 7.30pm.

See the full program of events for Sydney New Year’s Eve.

Published 7 December 2018, updated 19 December 2018