Puppet power

• When she was Marri Dyin: Bindaran’s past life walking Sydney streets.

A SIX metre illuminated puppet will stride around Forrest Place to celebrate the Noongar season Djeran, after last year’s puppetwalk was cancelled.

In July 2021 the puppet was supposed to usher in the wintery Noongar season of Makuru with a parade through the CBD, and was intended to be the signature event for NAIDOC week. The puppet was being brought over from the eastern states by NAIDOC Perth and was to cost Perth city council $104,000.

Perth council’s marketing bumf said the puppet would be “operated by a team of local puppeteers”, but in late June the puppet walk was cancelled in mysterious circumstances.

A Perth council statement said it was “not able to proceed as scheduled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The puppeteers are based in New South Wales and we are yet to know when they can travel to Perth,” despite the earlier claim about using local ones.

The puppet was first brought to life for Sydney’s Vivid Festival in 2018, and was named Marri Dyin, meaning “Great Woman” in the Eora language.

For her journey in Perth she was localised with a new story that aligns to Noongar lore and named Bindaran, and her presence celebrates Noongar women’s connection to country.

This time around the announcement’s been made closer to the date of the parade, with the puppet scheduled for daily free performances in Forrest Place at sunset from April 28 to May 1. 

Perth council is also looking to Noongar tradition to help the local environment.

Their draft Sustainability Strategy 2022-2032 is a broad plan to make Perth into a “climate-focussed”, “resource-conscious” “green city”.

One of the strategy’s aims is to listen to traditional owners and “incorporate Whadjuk Nyoongar knowledge into the City’s sustainability initiatives, programs and practices”. 

The plan goes to councillors for the vote at the April 26 council meeting.

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