Saltwater Freshwater Festival to be held at Forster on Australia Day next year

Holding the 2020 Saltwater Freshwater Festival in Forster is a perfect way to celebrate the culture and creative minds of the Worimi and Biripi people.

That's the sentiment of Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council director Donna Hall following the announcement that the festival will be held in conjunction with Australia Day 2020 celebrations.

"It's a beautiful time of year to have a festival and it's going to be near Forster Public School and Pebbly Beach," Ms Hall explained.

"Pebbly Beach means so much and to have the festival so close to the beach and water is a perfect way to do it.

"Being in January, it's the tourist season in Forster so we'll draw a crowd."

The festival will draw the attention of the community to the work of Tobwabba artists in the Great Lakes area.

"The artwork they do and promoting their culture means so much not only for this community but the MidCoast Council area," she said.

Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance general manager Chris Spencer was thrilled to work with MidCoast Council to bring the festival to Worimi land for the first time.

"We will be working intensely over the next few months, particularly with the local Aboriginal community in Forster and surrounding areas to make sure this is a fantastic event that everyone will enjoy," Mr Spencer said.

"It's an all-inclusive drug and alcohol free event the whole community and families can enjoy.

"We'll have a number of workshops that people can actively participate in reconciliation."

He explained the joy of showcasing Aboriginal culture and art through the nomadic festival each year.

"I have the opportunity to work with 10 different Aboriginal communities across the Mid North Coast from Coffs Harbour to Karuah," Mr Spencer said.

"Those communities are extremely resilient and have beautiful people who have so much talent and things to contribute to our whole of society and that's what makes Saltwater Freshwater very special and dear to me."

MidCoast Council mayor David West said the festival is "another step forward in bringing our community together."

"It will be a day to remember where our community and many visitors to our region will be welcome to the highly regarded Saltwater Freshwater Festival," Cr West said.

Pebbly Beach means so much and to have the festival so close to the beach and water is a perfect way to do it.

Donna Hall

"I see this festival as healing and bringing together the two cultures that are sorely in need of being brought together because we are all one."

Council will open the event with the inaugural regional Australia Day awards as well as citizenship ceremonies.

"This will mark an exciting change in direction and how we celebrate Australia Day on the Mid Coast, one that I believe bodes well for the future," Cr West said.

"Consolidating our official celebrations is about unity and embracing the strengths across our region."

The festival was last held in the area six years ago at Saltwater.