About the author : Brand & Comms Team
Published on : 11/13/23
Reading time : 6 min
  • I’m a Kiwi with Māori blood lines and culture is something I hold very close to my heart, am extremely proud of and forms part of my identity.

    I was yet to experience the far north of Australia and was lucky enough to be able to travel to a remote area in the Northern Territory called East Arnhem Land.

    What an amazingly beautiful part of the country to be in and fly over. You don’t really grasp how remote an area is until you’re thousands of miles above it and can see it for what it really is.

    I attended the Garma Festival, hosted by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, which is the largest Indigenous gathering in Australia. Garma showcases traditional miny’tji (art), manikay (song), bunggul (dance) and storytelling and is an important gathering for the clans and families of the region.

    Garma 2023.jpg

    Garma is a 4-day event held on the sacred Gumatj Bunggul ground in Gulkula, Northern Territory, with 3 of those days being a lot more hectic than the others.

    Sodexo assists Yothu Yindi with providing essential catering, cleaning and logistics over 5 days to ensure a smooth running of the festival. It was thought that we would service 2500 people but, turned out to be much more than that. 3500 people turned out for the 2023 Garma Festival, with the majority camping onsite for the 4 days.

    I cannot describe to you the sheer size of the property this event is held on; just when you think you have seen it all, there is still more to see. Each little tented area has a fire pit in the centre, which makes it feel so homely!

    There was a stunning walk through the trees where there was a man-made shelter for storytelling, and huge canvas prints of the beautiful Elders (Elders) lit up the night.

    In 4.5 days, we served close to 30,000 meals across breakfast, lunch and dinner (this doesn’t include morning or afternoon tea). Roughly 6 tonnes of protein and 7 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. I’m not sure how much sleep the festival goers got with the amount of coffee, milk and sugar that was consumed.

    There was a crew of 55 Regional General Managers and Operations Managers, Village Managers, Catering Managers, Chefs, Housekeepers, Kitchen Utilities and drivers. I was lucky enough to form some strong bonds with a handful of amazing humans, which are friendships I will have for life.

    Garma Volunteers 2023.jpg

    There is a moment in time I shared with a little boy who had about an inch of paint covering both his hands from his fingertips to his wrists. I thought to myself, he is never going to get that off. So, I soaped up my hands, crouched beside him and put my hands out. He put his hands in mine. I soaped his hands up and rinsed them clean. I was lucky enough that someone managed to snap a pic of this moment, and it is a picture that speaks a thousand words. It will remind me for years to come how special and beautifully diverse the world is, and no matter what your age or ethnic background is, having an open heart to what life has to offer will only create the sweetest of memories.

    Words can’t describe how precious it was to witness the Indigenous Culture of Australia alive and thriving. 


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