The following is an article by the Huon News, originally published on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. Republished here with permission.
Last Monday, January 13 saw up to 1000 people passing through the Port Cygnet Cannery for the launch of the inaugural Ballawinne Festival.
A proud show of cultural strength from the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal people, met a generous community spirit, setting the scene for a courageous event.
Both the former Premier Will Hodgman and headline speaker Bruce Pascoe received a warm welcome at the midday launch.
As it would eventuate, this would be Mr Hodgman’s last official engagement as Premier, and he was surrounded by a strong sense of family and social connection that was a hallmark of the day.
Dark Emu author and historian Bruce Pascoe received a standing ovation after he spoke and the queue for his autograph was unrelenting.
By the end of day, on-site retailer Southern Swan reported that all copies of his books had sold out.
The garden area outside the Cannery was abuzz with activity as community members engaged with traditional crafts, dance and arts activities.
Audiences were also treated to live music, while a variety of community organisations, such as Landcare and the Cygnet Volunteer Fire Brigade, were on hand to build awareness in the community.
This was a festival for sharing knowledge and ideas.
On the inside stage, a highly qualified line-up of speakers spoke of history, fire and land management.
A highlight of Mr Hodgman’s visit was the announcement of funding to support Aboriginal positions in fire management.
The Ballawinne Festival was an initiative of the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation (SETAC), supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Regional Arts Tasmania, Hobart City, Clarence City, Kingborough and Huon Valley Councils, RACT, GHD, Forico, Tassal, and Duggans Pty Ltd, along with the Cygnet Folk Festival and Huon and Kingston FM.
Huon and Kingston FM live streamed the event and a podcast of the evening panel discussion is now available online.