Murrundi Ruwe Pangari Ringbalin - River Country Spirit Ceremony

Read: Murray Darling Basin - Indigenous Water Rights
Monica Morgan, Dr Lisa Strelein and Jessica Weir 'Indigenous Law Bulletin'

Media Release Website | Go to: Ngarrindjeri documentary

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The Aboriginal peoples of the Darling and Murray Rivers are gathering for Murrundi Ruwe Pangari Ringbalin (Ngarrindjeri for River Country Spirit Ceremony).

The ceremony will be of much cultural significance for all Australians, and will dance back the spirit of the river and country.

With the Murray River’s Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray mouth in a dire state, the ceremony is aimed at the restoration of environmental and cultural flows so important to the life of all peoples. It will also reconnect people along the river, and be an excellent contribution towards reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

Murrundi is the Ngarrindjeri name for the entire Murray-Darling Basin and all of its waterways and wetlands. Many of the Aboriginal nations along the Darling and Murray will be participating in the Ringbalin.

On Saturday April 3rd the Ringbalin will begin at Murra Murra on the Nebine Creek headwaters of the River Darling in Queensland, and finish at the Coorong/Lower Lakes at Meningie in South Australia on Saturday April 10th. Each night, beginning at sunset, there will be ceremonies of dance for the spirit of river and country. In South Australia the Ringbalin will also be held at Murray Bridge, the night before on Friday April 9th.

Both indigenous and non-indigenous people are welcome to come along to all or any of the ceremony. We will travel, by road, each day to the next regional centre and cultural ceremonial ground along the river.

This is a drug and alcohol free event. To find out more and to register visit

The Ringbalin will happen at:

• Murra Murra (East of Cunnamulla) on Saturday 3rd April
• Brewarrina on Sunday 4th April, on River Barwon
• Mt. Gunderbooka in Gundabooka National Park (between Bourke & Wilcannia), on Monday April 5th
• Wilcannia on Tuesday 6th April, on River Darling
• Menindee Wednesday 7th April, on River Darling
• Wentworth, Thursday 8th April, on River Murray and Darling
• Murray Bridge on Friday 9th April, on River Murray
• Meningie on Lake Albert on Saturday April 10th, 2010.

Major Sumner, Ngarrindjeri elder and Lynton Vonow, a River Murray and Coorong campaigner, are taking the initiative in the planning for the Ringbalin. Major and Lynton recently visited communities along the River Darling in Brewarrina, Bourke, Wilcannia, Menindee and Wentworth, “We had a wonderfully positive reception. The people are very excited about reconnecting and doing ceremony for the river and the Ngarrindjeri people, the last people along the River’s length”.

Major Sumner is a prominent Ngarrindjeri elder, instrumental in repatriating the remains of his ancestors from Scotland (July 2008) and London (May 2009). Major is involved in many aspects of indigenous affairs in South Australia. He teaches cultural dance taking his dancers to perform in schools and the wider community.

Lynton Vonow has a long standing interest in Aboriginal Reconciliation and the environmental health of the River Murray and Coorong, has organized group camping trips to Camp Coorong, travelled with Major to the Darling River in December in preparation for the Ringbalin, and works as a Laboratory Officer at Birdwood High School in South Australia.

Further information


Lynton Vonow
Event Manager
0427 975 047

Major Sumner
Cultural Coordinator
0458 126 089

Major and Lynton are available for interviews.

Ngarrindjeri documentary to screen at New York film festival

By Petria Ladgrove (North and West morning show producer)

Change Media Mentor Jen Lyons-Reid and Ngarrindjeri team member shoot Coorong sunset
Change Media: Carl Kuddell

A documentary about the Ngarrindjeri community's struggle with dropping water levels in the Lower Lakes system will be screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2010.

The 22 minute long documentary, "Nukkan.Kungun.Yunnan" has been selected to screen as part the international 3rd Edition of Youth Producing Change at the film festival in New York.

The documentary highlights the cultural struggle that is being caused by the drying up of the Lower Lakes and Coorong.

It is widely known that the Lower Lakes and Coorong Area is suffering and changing because of the drought and the lack of water flowing in from further upstream.

The changes the environment and the habitat are also affecting the culture of the Ngarrindjeri people who live in the area.

The Senior Youth Worker at Meningie in the South Australia, Edie Carter, says cultural activities such as basket weaving are being compromised because of the lack of flow and the affect that has on the environment.

She says growing up she was able to use the reeds for weaving from near Meningie but she now has to travel for up to two hours to get the same reeds that are suitable for basket weaving.

The youth worker says passing on the cultural traditions of the Ngarrindjeri people is becoming more and more difficult as the years pass.

Mrs Carter and a group of youth workers worked with young people in the community to raise awareness of the issues they face by creating a 22 minute documentary DVD.

The documentary was created over four days last year and features interviews with Elders in the area as well as young people and video footage of the Coorong and Lower Lakes area.

Mentors were brought in to help with the video production techniques and the documentary was selecting to be shown in Los Angeles late last year where it won second place in a community category.

Mrs Carter says the film has now been chosen to screen at the Youth Producing Change section at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival which will be held later this year in New York.

She says it is exciting to see an international audience become aware of the cultural issues faced by the Njarrindjeri people in the Lower Lakes.

You can watch a shorter version of the film on the Change Media website.

Tall Storeez and it's parent company Change Media provided the digital media training to the young people in the Lower Lakes and Coorong.

Managing Director, Carl Kuddell, says at first it was difficult to convince the Njarrindjeri Elders that digital media was the right medium to get across their message, but once they saw the quality of work the group produced after just four days, they were convinced.