Conversations with Banatjarl Wimun
When we think about cultural identity in Katherine, the Banatjarl Strongbala Wimun Grup are the first thing that comes to my mind. Across the region, they are everywhere—offering weaving workshops at festivals, making damper at community gatherings, teaching people about bush medicine, having meaningful conversations and telling important stories. Organised under the Jawoyn Association, and led by a growing team of dynamic women, it’s their mission to actively share culture with everybody.
And from this week, thanks to some incredible support from Activate Katherine—and a little bit of sweat equity from the Godinymayin team—the Banatjarl Wimun have opened a temporary community space inside the Katherine Shopping Centre.
The next time you are on a grocery run, stop into the formerly vacant shop across from Woolworth’s and meet both elders and emerging leaders. Have a cup of tea and a yarn, sample a supply of bush medicine, try your hand at pandanus weaving, and let them share something wonderful with you.
Formed twenty years ago as a way to give Jawoyn women a voice, a network, and new advancement opportunities—cultural revitalisation has been a constant in the work of Banatjarl Wimun. As an ongoing collective, they actively support families, assist youth development, and address health concerns and healing. Current coordinator Pip Gordon, a tireless advocate if ever there was one, always takes a collaborative approach to making ideas like the new conversation hub a reality.
Step inside. You’ll meet women from Katherine to Bulman to Weemol, offering a warm and open place to begin new conversations and learning. Behind the scenes, and within every strong woman, there is also a deep and direct line to cultural knowledge and country—nurtured by an extraordinary sense of cultural identity.
When you join them in the new Banatjarl pop-up space, it will become immediately clear that you’ve also taken a step towards a more meaningful connection with Jawoyn culture and the age-less stewardship of the world around us.
“Sit down and stay awhile,” their conversation space now announces to everyone passing by the busy heart of Katherine. “Take a seat, and tell us what you think,” it says, “and in return we will offer our stories, perhaps a bit of tucker, and some of the ancient skills that live within us.”
If you accept this warm invitation, and gain the benefit of new connections to the Banatjarl Strongbala Wimun, you also become part of a pretty remarkable revival of Indigenous identity in the region.
The special aspects of culture—yours, mine, anybody’s—can change, get neglected, and even vanish over time. What’s happening here is the opposite of that. Songlines, corroboree dances, dying and weaving—all are being regained, restored, and rejuvenated.
Let inspiring Banatjarl woman Suzie Andrews—the tireless leader of this 6-week pop-up project—welcome you in and tell you more. Leave the Woolworth’s and K-Hub behind, and connect with something beautiful, something nurturing, something uniquely Jawoyn—at the very heart of the Katherine community.
— Eric Holowacz
Chief Executive Officer