Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has heaped praise on Lockhart River after making her first visit to the community last week for the official opening of the Paytham Malkari Festival and cultural precinct.
“Lockhart is ready to build on its proud tradition of indigenous dance gatherings and events, thanks to this new cultural precinct, which will do so much for the celebration of local arts as well as tourism, businesses and jobs,” she said.
“Locals are rightly very proud of the community’s history as a gathering place for local Cape community dance festivals.
“To be able to be here today and see our investment in action, during Paytham Malkari Dance Festival, is very special.”
While in the community, the Premier also visited several other organisations.
“I had the great opportunity to go to the Puuya Foundation Centre and hear the mayor’s views on expanding that early childhood centre, which is delivering fantastic results for the community,” she said.
“I also had the opportunity to meet with our frontline health staff, our frontline police staff and also members of the community.”
Mayor Wayne Butcher was still beaming on Monday morning when reflecting on the three-day festival, which marked 50 years since a similar gathering occurred in Lockhart River.
“It was great to see the community come out in big numbers. The atmosphere was great and we had really good community spirit,” he said.
“The young ones were coming up to me on Sunday (after the festival had ended) and were asking me if they could dance again.”
The weather mostly played its part, with a downpour on Thursday morning, the day of the Premier’s arrival, causing some concern.
“I was thinking ‘don’t do this to us’,” Cr Butcher said.
“But a lot of the Elders were saying that it might have been tears of joy from the Elders up in heaven.”
Cr Butcher thanked the visiting dance teams from Bamaga and Yarrabah and vowed to hold more boutique festivals in Lockhart.
“When our dancers go out to compete, the community doesn’t get to see them,” he said.
“I know they were really impressed with what they saw over the three days.”