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Prince of Wales visits Indigenous community in Nhulunbuy

As part of Royal Visit Australia the Prince of Wales travelled to Nhulunbuy, in north-east Arnhem Land. Though this is the sixth time the prince has visited the Northern Territory, it is his first visiting this particular remote region.

Prince Charles was officially welcomed with a traditional ceremony at sacred site, Mt Nhulun. He was met on arrival by senior Aboriginal leaders who presented him with a headdress and a woven dilly bag, an item which plays a significant role in a Yolngu story about the origins of the “Nhulunbuy” name. The prince was then surrounded by dancers in traditional dress who excited him in a procession to a nearby clearing.

The dancers carried spears and delivered a performance of a “Bunggul” before Bakamumu Marika, the leader of the Rirratijingu people delivered the official welcome to the country. Before the ceremony began the Prince of Wales was presented with a Mulka String, which is a feather string headband, and a Bathi, a string basket, to wear.

Following the welcome ceremony Prince Charles went to the top of Roy Marika Lookout to meet with Indigenous rangers and learn more about the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area. The rangers protect and manage Gove Peninsula land on behalf of the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, an organisation created to facilitate protection and conservation of the natural resources in the area.

Outside the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre a crowd numbering around 400 – including dozens of schoolchildren from Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala – were waiting to welcome the prince. Nhulunbuy resident Gabby Dhurrkay said of the visit: “”Everyone’s all excited. I’m over the moon.” Resident Adela Yunupingu said the visit was “a big day” and said that she’d like to tell Prince Charles: “Welcome to our land. You walk on this land and you’re a part of this land today.”

At the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre Prince Charles learned more about the rich culture and artistic heritage of the Gumatj Corporation and received a spiritual blessing where a “Yidaki” (a type of horn) is blown directly onto the chest of the person being blessed.

During the visit Prince Charles also had a long, private meeting with members of the Yolngu Nations Assembly and local politician Yingiya Mark Guyula which Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre Coordinator Will Stubbs called “diplomatic”. He added: “That today, they are a sovereign people, that they have a system of law, and that is a rule of law, not men. It’s probably about time the great, great, great, great grandson of the person who ordered someone to stick a flag in and claim the whole continent fronted up and actually met the landowners.”

From Nhulunbuy Prince Charles travelled to Darwin where a reception was held in his honour by Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

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