Tourism Australia Head of Indigenous Aff

Chasing artists for Karijini Experience  

[by Allen Newton]


Image: supplied

The 2021 Karijini Experience will provide an unprecedented showcase for West Australian and Aboriginal artists across the fields of music, art, theatre, and food.

In previous years some of Australia’s top performers have appeared at the Karijini Experience, including blues singer Archie Roach, acclaimed opera singer Deborah Cheetham, singer Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, The Pigram Brothers, chef  Mark Olive, didgeridoo virtuoso Mark Atkins, and rock singer/songwriter Dan Sultan have been headliners.

In 2020 the highest ever ranked Indigenous artist in the JJJ Hottest 100, Thelma Plum, was set to headline when the Karijini Experience had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For 2021, event organiser Sonia Powell from the Nintirri Centre in Tom Price says because of uncertainty around border closures the decision had been made to focus entirely on WA talent.

“That could range from anything from children’s entertainers, to painting workshops and photography, musicians, chefs and performers and teachers of all kinds,” she says.

The Karijini Experience in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara has become a mecca for artists who fall in love with the little community of performers and VIPs.

When Archie Roach was asked for his favourite destination to perform and why he nominated the Karijini Experience with its celebration of culture and connection had earned a special place in his heart.

Roach has been backed up by didgeridoo player Mark Atkins who has been a regular performer at Karijini and describes it as “a festival for everyone, the people, the land, the old and young coming together as one sharing the stories, dance and songs at the Karijini Experience”.

The stunning landscape with its red dirt and beautiful gorges provide a perfect opportunity for performers to relax in their downtimes.

Accommodation is in ‘The Red Room’ a picturesque little village of well-equipped tents.

Meals are served in a communal eating area where impromptu jam sessions often spring up.

The Nintirri Centre brings in portable toilets and showers for the little encampment which is just a short walk away from the main performance areas.

Ms Powell said the expressions of interest should be lodged by October 1 for the Karijini Experience which will run from April 6 to 10 in 2021.

More than 180 performers are involved each year.

They include Karijini native title holders the Banjima and other Aboriginal language groups who perform in corroborees, concerts, tool making, cultural exchanges and cooking demonstrations.

Already booked to perform again in the beautiful Kalamina Gorge is a string quartet from the WA Symphony Orchestra.

“In 2021 we’ll again be looking for a varied range of artists in a wide range of fields with connections to Aboriginal culture,” Ms Powell said.

Expressions of interest should be made on the website at


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