The Festival is named after the afternoon breeze, called a Mahbilil, which is prevalent in Kakadu during September, or Gurrung. This is when the magpie geese fly in huge numbers across the wetlands and lay their eggs. After the previous season when the country was burned and cleansed, Gurrung is all about regeneration.
The Festival is staged around Lake Jabiru and runs from midday to midnight and brings together music, arts and culture from the Mirarr people and across the Top End. It is a one-day celebration of cultural diversity and community.
During daylight, it’s a family event full of activities, workshops, rides, displays, Indigenous art and demonstrations of weaving, painting and more. Local showcasing includes the art and performance products from the Jabiru Youth Centre and Jabiru Area School. Food features with large earth ovens, buffalo, barramundi and the region speciality of magpie goose. Visitors can join the fun, taking part in spear throwing, didjeridoo blowing and kite-making.
At sunset the festival turns on a high art installation on the lake, followed by an evening program of screen arts, music and dance. Entertainment includes funky bands from the Northern Territory and interstate. Dance such as Maori, Balinese, Congolese and modern ballet with a local flavour will be on show throughout the event. Screen arts and a spectacular fire show are some on the entertainment present.
The Mahbilil festival continues to be a well-established and popular annual event in Jabiru with locals and visitors alike. It is an important event for Jabiru, bringing various elements of the community together and celebrating the lifestyle and culture of the Mirarr people.
ENTRY TO THE FESTIVAL IS FREE.
Jabiru is the gateway to World Heritage – listed Kakadu National Park (300km from Darwin) and Kakadu Tourism is offering a range of accommodation during the Festival weekend. Choices include the Crocodile Hotel at Jabiru, Cooinda Lodge, Cooinda Campground Kakadu – Outback Budget Twin and power campsites at Cooinda Campground Kakadu.