Balayi-Open Your Eyes! Houtman 400 Festival
Watch out! Open your eyes to two cultures, two different perspectives, a Dutch discovery viewed from the ocean, a First Nations people view from the land. A shared night sky.
This Festival marks the first European encounter with the south west corner of the Australian continent and the Houtman Abrolhos Islands and celebrates the culture of the First Nations people whose land they spied 400 years ago in July 1619.
The Festival in Geraldton on the 27th-28th of July 2019, acknowledges the First Nations Peoples rich culture Houtman and Dedel bypassed. Come and celebrate with the friendly Geraldton community as we illuminate the night with projections of Yamaji art from the Ilgarijari Shared Sky project and stories of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands onto the Queens Park Theatre and St Francis Xavier Cathedral.
Be immersed in art and music at the opening night '27 shades of Black' inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s quote about the Dutch Masters using twenty seven shades of black in their paintings, guests must wear black while the artwork inspired by the Houtman Abrolhos Islands will bring the splash of colour.
Next to the glistening waters of Jambinbirri-Champion Bay enjoy a bush spice infused lunch created by Chef Mark Olive, indulge in local produce straight from our clean waters and of course generous regional hospitality.
Get sand in your toes at the commemorative event as Yamaji dancers weave a story as a large sea serpent created by the community comes to life. Set sail on the replica Batavia Longboat or spend a relaxed Sunday afternoon listening to the distant shores music line up of local talent. Join in a yarning circle, watch a cooking demonstration by Chef Mark Olive, create your own sea monster, fill your heart with the voices of the Jumbinu Warranan choir and soak up the big skies and bay of Geraldton.
Two world perspectives under one night sky. Join the experience and Balayi-Open Your Eyes!
Opening Night "27 Shades of Black
Saturday 27th July 7pm - 10.30pm
Queens Park Theatre
Celebrity Chef Mark Olive presents a Bush Food and Spice Inspired Lunch
Sunday July 28th; 12.30pm - 4.00pm
Stowe Gardens, Geraldton Foreshore
400 years ago in July 1619, sailing aboard the Dordrecht, Commander Frederick de Houtman of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) with VOC Councillor of the Indies Jacob Dedel aboard the Amsterdam, following the newly mandated Brouwer Route across the southern Indian Ocean to Java, came further east than any Europeans before them. Their charts showed only an imagined land, Terra Incognita Australis, needed to balance out the land masses of the world, so to their surprise they discovered what appeared to be an uninterrupted mainland coast.
They cautiously continued northward following the coast, but fearing its reefs headed seaward, only to find the equally dangerous islands and submerged coral platforms that now bear Houtman’s name, and the admonition ‘Abrolhos’: – “keep your eyes open!”
This encounter is a significant part of Australia’s European history, 150 years before Lieut. James Cook laid eyes on Botany Bay in 1770. Our commemorative activities around the catch-cry ‘Balayi-Open Your Eyes” acknowledge that even though Houtman and Dedel saw no signs of people ashore, it was a long-occupied land. The Festival in Geraldton on the 27th-28th of July 2019, acknowledges the First Nations Peoples rich culture Houtman and Dedel bypassed.