Garma Event Info
31 July - 3 August
Each year an estimated 2500 visitors gather & camp at Gulkula, a traditional ceremonial meeting ground, historically significant to the Yolngu people of the North East Arnhem Land (NEAL). Its location is remote, forty kilometers on a dusty unsealed road from the township of Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory.
Here, guests from all persuasions gather to experience four days of the Garma Festival, Australia’s largest Indigenous led and programmed cultural exchange. Guests will share ideas and learn from array of Indigenous and non-Indigenous speakers. They will also witness a spectacular culturally unique dance, arts & song scene, specific to the Arnhem region & the rich Arnhem Land lifestyle. Garma sets a high benchmark as we pride ourselves on showcasing the treasures of the Northern Territory’s mighty Yolngu clans.
Garma proudly provides guests with an extensive & unique display of dance (bunggul), song (manikay), craft, art (miny’tji) and traditional Indigenous knowledge. Yolngu families speak a yolngu matha dialect, the preservation and maintenance of the local Indigenous language is prominent; English being the second spoken language for many.
Garma was included in the 2014 October issue of the Best of Australian arts magazine. The Garma bunggul is hailed as an example of one of the world’s oldest musical traditions and we must do everything to recognise its enormous value to our lives as Australians.
The Garma experience is simply unique. Programming enables guests to choose from over 26 cultural activities per day over the course of this four day event, often you will need to choose your selection ahead of time in order to plan out your day.
Categories include music, art, dance, song, youth, language workshops, fireside chats, bush crafts, guided bush walks, astronomy, women’s healing, cinema, creative writing, yolngu ceremonies, nightly lectures and poetry recitals.
Leading our attractions is the Garma Key Forum policy discussions, a contemporary account of Indigenous affairs in Australia. Garma provides pleasant cultural awareness workshops & wonderful networking opportunities where you will meet some amazing people outside the city boardrooms.
Garma is now considered Australia’s equivalent of Switzerland’s davos – a place for shaping policy and developing Indigenous business. Garma has also become the venue for discussion and engagement on the matter for Constitutional reform, and to reconciling, educating and healing the nation’s reconciliation journey. Garma’s impact on the nation is highly significant, and you will leave feeling challenged by thought.
It is a rare privilege to attend Garma and the Yothu Yindi Foundation is fiercely proud of our reputation as providing, staging and hosting one of Australia’s premier Indigenous attractions. Garma has operated successfully for over 20 years, 2020 brings a groundswell of change to provoke your thought and challenge your thinking.
Garma has the remarkable ability to transcend colour, creed, race, and many of our supporters recognise how remarkable this unique ingredient is to shape our nation’s future. Our programming will explore difficult conversations in order to find solutions to better manage a brighter future for our nation. You will not be disappointed with the dialogue, you’re guaranteed to finish your day with a new perspective or often some feel inspired by keynote addresses and motivational speakers.
This is the melting pot of Australia’s Indigenous leaders, where the concept of time challenges you to contemplate a different line of thought. This gathering builds momentum from within the Indigenous space unlike any other - completely determined by Indigenous people themselves.
Garma proves that Indigenous Australia is vibrant, where we lead by example & use the powerful Garma platform to share with you some of the complexities that are often fraught inside communities across this nation. Our guests arrive with a mindset to absorb as much as they can through the Garma opportunity.
Ticketing Structure and Pricing
Our ticketing structure is designed as an all-inclusive package deal. Discounts will not be issued to those who choose to attend only a portion of the event.
Garma Individual Adult Tickets: $2,503.00
Entitles each guest access over the four day Garma event, airport shuttles, all meals, camping accommodation (assembled tent, sleeping bag and air mattress) included.
Garma Individual Child 8-18 yrs & Uni Student Tickets: $1,513.00
A discounted student rate is available for children, full time school and university students who hold a valid student ID. Your student ID will need to be presented upon arrival at the ticket office (N/A for children).
Entitles each guest access for entirety of the 4 day Garma event, airport shuttles, all meals, camping accommodation (assembled tent, sleeping bag and air mattress) included.
Garma Corporate Tickets (sold in groups of 10 only): $4,128.00 per person
Corporate tickets are designed for and restricted to be purchased as for a group of ten guests in total. Corporate groups are allocated their own deluxe camping area - an environment to encourage team interaction and discussion. Additionally, all corporate groups are invited to attend a special dinner event held on Saturday evening hosted by a special guest. This is not one to miss!
Entitles ticket holders to site access over the four day Garma event, airport shuttles, all meals, camping accommodation (assembled tent, sleeping bag and air mattress) included.
Garma Community Ticket:
These tickets are for residents of north east Arnhem Land only conditions apply, please contact the Yothu Yindi Foundation,email: email@example.com for further information.
Garma Media Ticket:
Conditions apply, please contact the Yothu Yindi Foundation, email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Garma 2020 will span for four days from 31 July – 3 August.
The programming will extend from early Friday until on Monday evening. It is suggested that you arrive on Thursday night and leave on Tuesday morning to avoid missing out on some special programming editions unique to 2020.
The Gulkula site where Garma is held is located approximately 30 minutes from the township of Nhulunbuy on the Central Arnhem Highway.
You can Fly or Self Drive!
All travel arrangements are at the responsibility of each guest. Daily flights into and departing Gove (Nhulunbuy) are available from Airnorth and Qantas.
Guests are encouraged to search for early bird flights to book and pay for flights well ahead of time, to avoid last minute price hikes as Garma draws closer.
We strongly recommend you engage our official Garma travel agent, who is more than happy to assist with your flight arrangements, for further details, contact:
Entertainment Travel Partners
PO Box 439 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
T: +61 (0)2 9280 3767
F: +61 (0)2 9212 6524
We will provide you with airport shuttle transfers to and from the Gulkula site for any commercial or chartered flights arriving between the morning of Thursday 30th July and the morning of Tuesday 4th August, please provide your flight details within your online registration process by Friday 26 June 2020. Any additional transport required to and from the Garma site (into town or for flights outside the Garma open to public period) is not the responsibility of the Garma team. Please see below for options
T: 131 008 for 12-passenger mini bus taxi or 4-passenger taxi operating between the Garma site at Gulkula and the Nhulunbuy (Gove) township.
Manny’s Car Rental
T: 08 8987 2872
T: 08 8987 1700
T: 08 89 872 300
Driving to Garma
If you plan to commute to Gove via the central Arnhem highway from Darwin please take care. A high clearance four wheel drive vehicle is essential for guests travelling this route. Be sure to engage 4WD on all dirt roads.
Garma guests increase traffic on the Central Arnhem Highway, reducing visibility considerably. Roads are unsealed and there are some difficult river crossings, large corrugations and roads are often prone to washout. Do not swim at the river crossings as salt water crocodiles inhabit these areas. Be particularly careful at night – buffaloes and other animals stray on to the road.
Be sure to drive to the conditions at all times. DO NOT SPEED! Carry plentiful food, fuel and water, spare tyre(s) and a puncture repair kit and a mobile service that can be used in remote areas.
Be sure to check road conditions before departure http://www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/roadreport/
Fact - Speed limits are heavily enforced during the Garma period. Please take note of the speed limits applied on the highways AND onsite at Gulkula.
Northern Land Council Permits to Enter Aboriginal Land
The Yolngu are the traditional owners of north east Arnhem Land. They are also recognised as owners of this land under Australian law through the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) 1976. Permits are required to enter Aboriginal land.
Northern Land Council have given permission for guests attending the Garma Festival. Your Official Garma Pass can be used as your permit to travel through Arnhem Land via the Central Arnhem Highway only.
REMINDER: No side trips are permitted, the Northern Land Council advises that permission will NOT be granted for any travel via the Ramingining Road.
Gulkula and surrounding areas is an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), managed by Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation. Declared in March 2001 as the first IPA in the Northern Territory, the Dhimurru IPA is a part of the Australian National Reserve System of protected areas.
If you wish to visit other sites in the area, permits are required. Enquiries should be made to the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation in Nhulunbuy.
T: 08 8939 2700
Alcohol and drugs
The Garma Festival is an alcohol and drug free event. Alcohol and illegal substances are not permitted or to be consumed at the Gulkula site. Alcohol restrictions are also in place at Gunyangara, Birritjimi and Yirrkala communities. There are heavy penalties for persons taking and consuming alcohol and/or illlegal drugs, patrons caught will be immediately escorted off site by the local Police. Be aware that police sniffer dogs are on regular patrol during the festival.
Protocols and Conduct
At Garma, you are requested to observe and work within Yolngu protocols.
- Remember you are on Yolngu land and entering Yolngu time. Yolngu perceptions, priorities and preoccupations are different from those of mainstream Australia. Be patient, and try to leave at home your expectations of how things are learnt, and how events should run. Traditionally Yolngu learn by observation, by looking and listening. Asking too many questions can be inappropriate. So, when you have questions, choose them carefully and thoughtfully.
- Respect people’s personal space, particularly in the camping areas and each individual guest’s tent. Sticking to the walking paths provided is important to ensure you’re not stumbling across cultural space.
- Avoid strolling around and visiting Yolngu campsites unless specifically invited and accompanied by Yolngu.
- Please exercise courtesy and sensitivity when taking photographs – seek the permission of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and subjects if taking close-ups, or photographs of small groups, particularly in the women’s programs and men’s programs cultural and health sessions. The Yothu Yindi Foundation has enforced strict Intellectual Property policies that safe guard both individuals and Yolngu families when posting Garma to social media channels. You are reminded that we are working in a realistic environment of high mortality. Cultural protocols are strict for that matter and we ask guests to respect this process. If you wish to use Garma imagery, you will need to seek approval from our Director of Media email@example.com.
- Visitors should NOT leave the Gulkula site on their own and should only walk along specifically marked trails. This is about showing respect for land and is also a safety issue. Wild buffalo wander this country and organisers spend considerable effort in monitoring their trails prior to Garma each year. Please ensure someone knows your travel plans.
- Treat the old people with the greatest of respect – they hold the knowledge and the power.
- Please be conscious that dress standards may often vary from what is considered acceptable at your home. By dressing conservatively, you will avoid the possibility of causing offence. Too much skin on display draws inadvertent attention not appropriate for this event. Schools attending the festival should advise their students of this policy. Our dress standards also protect our participants from sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration. Plan a sensible wardrobe, practical and covered shoes and include a hat to protect you from the elements.
Accommodation & Facilities
Garma is intended to be a bush camping experience and the Festival site at Gulkula is well set up for this. Camping with us onsite at Gulkula enables guests a greater opportunity to experience Garma, and its special character, purpose and essence.
Accommodation onsite is a tent, sleeping bag and single air mattress per guest. For the comfort of your stay we encourage guests to bring their own sheets and pillow. If you feel the supplied camping gear will not be sufficient to meet your needs we encourage you to bring your own.
Note: The Garma team do their upmost best to keep guests comfortable as possible. However, if you are not accustomed to camping in the bush you may want to consider offsite accommodation options. Discounts are not available to guests who forego their camping entitlements. We do not take responsibility for travel or accomodation arrangements for particpants who elect to stay offsite.
Accommodation facilities in Nhulunbuy are very limited and can book out very quickly.
T: 08 8987 0700
T:08 8939 2000
Toilets and Showers
There are operational toilets and hot showers on site.
There are no clothes washing facilities onsite. So, if you are adverse to dust and dirt, please pack sufficiently and enough clothing to last you the time of your stay.
What to Bring
- towel micro fibre camping one is highly recommended
- pillow and sheets
- torch and batteries
- mosquito repellent
- covered shoes
- small backpack
- drink bottle
For all registered guests Garma is fully catered event, three main meals a day. Please check notice boards for kitchen schedules.
The Garma team will calculate catering needs based on the registered number of guests and personnel in attendance. Non vegetarian and vegetarian meals will be on offer for all guests.
Our Caterers will make every attempt to identify ingredients that may cause allergic reactions for those with food allergies. Every effort is made to instruct our food production staff on the severity of food allergies; however, there is always a risk of contamination. There is also a possibility that manufacturers of the commercial foods we use could change the formulation at any time, without notice. Customers concerned with food allergies need to be aware of this risk. The Yothu Yindi Foundation will not assume any liability for adverse reactions to foods consumed, or items one may come in contact with while eating catered meals.
Garma Site Access
Gulkula is the ceremonial site upon which Garma is held. The Gulkula site sits within an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). For safety reasons and permit reasons, guests are not permitted in areas outside of the marked festival site and car park.
When making your travel arrangements please note:
- Garma the event officially commences on Friday, 31st July and ends on the night of Monday 3rd August 2020. So not to miss out, guests should take note that programming will extend from Friday morning well into Monday night
- Site opening to public Thursday 30th July 12pm.
- Site closure to public Tuesday 4 August at 12pm.
- Guests are welcome to camp onsite 30th July until 4th Aug 12pm. All meals will be catered for during this period.
Garma is held in a remote bush location. Unfortunately we do not have full facilities that cater for disabled guests. We do have one wheelchair access toilet and shower facility. We are currently planning to better enable and accommodate guests with special requirements in the future.
While the organisers will do everything in their power to make the site child-friendly, the responsibility for the care and wellbeing of children lies entirely with parent/s, carers or guardian, please ensure that you supervise your children at all times.
Telstra enables guests of Garma to remain connected over the course of 4 days worth of activities. The site will be equipped with a Telstra charging station and a supply of prepaid Telstra SIMS cards at the Garma ticketing desk.
Those wishing to use electronic devices during Garma should be aware that:
- Telstra mobile coverage will be available
- We encourage guests to switch their devices to flight mode whilst at Garma to extend battery life.
- Other power outlets are located at the ticketing office /reception and guests are encouraged to remain at reception while their device charges, as Garma staff cannot assume responsibility for any devices left unattended.
- As power outlets are always in high demand at Garma, we predict that guests will sometimes need to wait for an outlet to become available. To avoid disappointment, we encourage guests charge during quiet periods such as early morning and later in the evening.
ALL registered Garma participants agree to the conditions outlined in the Deed of Agreement to Make a Record at Garma. This is a legally binding document which prevents the Garma product from being used for commercial profit for purposes not aligned with the values and priorities of the Yothu Yindi Foundation. This policy has been developed out of respect for the Yolngu clans and their families and it enables them to maintain control, for protocol and cultural sensitivity reasons, of the public use of images, e.g. not publishing images of deceased persons. This policy sets out all terms and conditions prior to participants arriving on site at Gulkula. * Your registration ticket binds your acceptance that you have read, understand and will abide by the terms of this document.
Requests to use recordings and images will need to be approved by the Yothu Yindi Foundation Director of media. All media requests are to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org complete with your details.
Climate & Wildlife
Generally speaking, the weather is rain-free and sunny. The days can get quite warm (around 31 degrees and the evening can become very cool usually around 15 degrees although we have experienced colder mornings. We advise that you keep up a high fluid intake (plain water is best) to avoid dehydration and that you wear a broad brimmed hat to guard against the harsh sun. We have had the occasional rain showers it rare at this time of year however we recommend that you close your tent properly when leaving it to avoid you belongings getting wet as dew can build up also.
Like most bushland in Australia, Gulkula has a healthy population of venomous snakes. If you see a snake, don't panic, do not touch it or attempt to move it yourself. Please notify a Garma crew member immediately so we can have the ranger safely remove it away from the site.
Wear insect repellants and cover up at dusk to avoid mosquitoes. You may wish to bring a mosquito net as individuals reactions to bites vary.
Crocodiles (baru) inhabit the waters of Arnhem Land. They are not a threat at the Gulkula site which is atop an escarpment 100 metres above sea level. However we do advise that caution should always be considered if venturing near water.
Sea wasps (box jelly fish) and other stingers exist in the ocean. It is highly recommended that you only enter the sea in the company and supervision of local guides. Note that there is a public swimming pool in Nhulunbuy where you will not have to worry about baru (crocodile), jellyfish or stingers.
There is also a local population of wild buffalo. If seen, do not approach under any circumstances. Buffalo are known for their short tempers and are not appreciative of being interrupted. If you see a buffalo, retreat quietly. Please let Garma staff know immediately if you spot a buffalo so that a qualified ranger can assist the buffalo in finding a safer place for it to go about its’ daily business.
Cash & Eftpos
There are no ATM machines located at Garma for cash out transactions. There are EFTPOS machines stationed at the Garma Cafe, Merchandise Store and Gapan Gallery for card purchases we do not offer cash out from these venues. We strongly urge guests to pre-empt their spending habits and bring cash to suffice. General goods (water, soft drinks, and some toiletry items), art, Garma merchandise and espresso coffee will be available for sale onsite at the Garma Shop. Nhulunbuy has supermarkets and a variety of shops and facilities.
A first aid service is available onsite. Any serious conditions will be taken to the Nhulunbuy Hospital. Please advise the organisers if you have special needs or conditions.
PO Box 42119
Casuarina NT 0811
08 8945 5055