TIME OF CHANGE: Bundjalung nation elder Uncle Cecil Roberts reflects on the 1973 Aquarius Festival, which he attended when he was 16 years old.
TIME OF CHANGE: Bundjalung nation elder Uncle Cecil Roberts reflects on the 1973 Aquarius Festival, which he attended when he was 16 years old. Marc Stapelberg

A new age of Aquarius is dawning

PREPARATIONS for Nimbin Aquarius Festival's 45th anniversary are heating up.

As part of Tuesday's World Hello Day, which looks at preserving peace, organisers of the 45th anniversary celebration took the opportunity to reflect on the link between the festival and the Bundjalung nation at an event at Allsop Park, Nimbin.

Bundjalung nation elder Uncle Cecil Roberts was on hand to lead traditional ceremonies acknowledging the link between the traditional custodians of the land and the visionary festival organisers who came to Nimbin in 1973 to stage the counter-culture gathering.

Mr Roberts was 16 and living in Lismore when the festival took place and decided to join his friends and travel to Nimbin to see the event.

"My dad came looking for me and he thought it looked so good he stayed,” Mr Roberts said.

"It was really good. It brought lots of people together and brought in a new era.

"It brought new life and helped people move away from the concrete jungle.”

Mr Roberts said the first thing he noticed was a big steel cable on top of the building near the chemist to be used by famous tight rope walker Philippe Petit during the festival.

Philippe Petit is known for walking across the twin towers in New York.

"It was just packed,” Mr Roberts said.

"Full of people from all over the world, and a lot of college students, too.

"Everybody just came to experience the festival.”

Original Aquarian and anniversary celebrations organiser Katie Love Cawcutt said the organisers of the 1973 festival first asked permission of the townspeople in a meeting, but then also asked to meet the local Bundjalung nation and asked permission to have the festival on their land.

Ms Cawcutt said they wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the involvement of indigenous culture in the festival, including performers from Yirrkala Dance Group.

She said they usually organised the anniversary every five years, with the last one in May 2013 including performers Nylon Zoo, the Tuntable and React circuses, along with bands, buskers, fire twirlers, face-painters and a kids' parade.

There was also the fundraising Aquarius Folk Concert and the dedication ceremony of Nimbin's own Imagine peace mandala at the Bush Theatre.



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