While the centre-piece of the day was the local Daly River Buffaloes’ first home game in the Big Rivers Football league, there were activities to cater to any interest.
Kicking off the day was the official opening of the new Merrepen Arts Museum by NT Attorney General, Chansey Paech, local member for Daly, Dheran Young, and Senior Australian of the Year and Nauiyu Elder, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann; a tea-towel printing workshop run by internationally acclaimed artist, Kieren Karritpul; and a pop-up op-shop.
Catholic Care NT, Ironbark, Green River Aboriginal Corporation, Norforce, Territory Rivers, Xavier Francis Catholic and Woolianna Schools set up market stalls across the road from the footy oval – sizzling sausages, selling food and drinks, running craft-making sessions and hosting sports matches.
Junior footy and women’s softball teams also got to strut their stuff before the main game at 3pm.
Crowds of local cheer squads and visitors gathered at the sidelines, watching eagerly as Young tossed the coin to get the game started.
The coach of the Buffaloes and member of the Victoria Daly Regional Council’s night patrol team, Wally, said to see the day come together after so much input from the community was exciting.
“After not having lots of visitors in Nauiyu for so long, it’s great to see everyone coming together like this in such a positive way,” Wally said.
Senior Australian of the Year and Nauiyu Elder, Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, said that the carnival was the perfect way to lift the community’s spirits after lockdown and the stress of COVID.
“Everyone’s having a great time now that things are getting back to normal after COVID, so I thought, why can’t we have a mini festival too?” Ungunmerr-Baumann said.
“It’s about replenishing everyone’s spirits, and showing people who don’t live in Nauiyu exactly what the community has to offer.”
Unfortunately, luck did not land on the Buffaloes side, with the Katherine Camels defeating the local team 16 goals to 10.
Pat Hollowood, the VDRC Nauiyu Community Operations Manager, said she hoped this was an event that ran for many more years to come.
“I think positive days like this that effectively bring the whole community together are so valuable,” Hollowood said.
“Everything in the leadup to the actual running of the day has been so excellent, and all stakeholders and community members have really pulled out all the stops to put on a great day.”