Belgrave Survival Day holds strong

Getting ready and watching, some curious kids observe the preparations. Picture: TANYA STEELE

By Tanya Steele

First Nations people, music, food and art were celebrated on Belgrave Survival Day for 2024 as community gathered from all over the Dandenong Ranges for the annual event, which has moved it’s date from away from 26 January.

Belgrave and surrounding community came from Healesville and beyond and saw huge crowds flock to Borthwick Park on Sunday 3 March – the theme set for this year’s Belgrave Survival Day was “Always”.

Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO, Senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin alliance in Victoria hosted a Welcome to Country and Smoking ceremony to kick off the day.

“We know that we’re not on this journey alone — we know we’ve got each and every one of you that are here today,” she said.

“We have survived and we will keep on surviving, so just a big Wominjeka (welcome), thank you, it means a lot not to do this journey alone.”

The event featured a beautiful live performance by the Djirri Djirri Dancers who took the crowd through several traditional dances and even invited community members to come up and join in the fun.

Stacie Piper proud Wurundjeri, Djadjawurrung and Ngurai Illum-Wurrung woman from the Djirri Djirri Dancers thanked the community for their support and said the date change is ‘growing momentum’.

“I just want to acknowledge the Belgrave Survival Day committee for hearing the call the call to action to change the date – it’s a difficult one,” she said.

“I know that January 26 was something that the locals all gathered here and it wasn’t to celebrate invasion it was to celebrate our survival — so I know a lot of locals really miss having it on January 26 … it’s great to see so many people who have come out today.”

Belgrave Survival Day is an annual event that was originally held on 26 January in 2008, this year the BSD Committee and partners made the decision to change the event to Sunday 3 March.

The music line up was stellar and crowds experienced the talented sounds of Ash Dargan, who is an Indigenous Australian Yidaki (didgeridoo) player of the Larrakia people from the Northern Territory, DENNI, who is also known as (Madam pakana) from Tasmania and Naarm indie band Chasing Ghosts.

Kids played in the park, people lounged on picnic rugs and others danced while stalls served up delicious foods from Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering place and East African styled Street Foods from Afroliciouseats.

The free and all ages community event was coordinated by the Belgrave Survival Day Committee and was presented in partnership with Burrinja Cultural Centre, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place and Yarra Ranges Council.