In just 18 months, Waradah Aboriginal Centre has welcomed almost 150,000 visitors through its doors.
To acknowledge the occasion, the lucky person to round off that figure will receive a beautiful didgeridoo worth $500 when they enter the venue sometime in May.
Located next to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, Waradah Aboriginal Centre (formerly Koomurri Aboriginal Centre) offers authentic Aboriginal song and dance performances, Dreamtime stories and paintings, arts and crafts. (It is one of only two venues in Australia to offer daily dance and Dreamtime story performances by Aboriginal people, and the only one in NSW.)
The centre provides an exciting and rich cultural dimension to the national tourism industry which has far-reaching benefits to the local community, state and nation as well as providing tangible benefits to the various indigenous communities represented at the centre.
Waradah makes a significant contribution to various Aboriginal clans and communities by way of employment; and the provision of a retail gallery space through which indigenous arts and crafts are showcased and sold to local and overseas visitors.
The centre provides an environment for the advancement of better relationships through workshops, performances and the promotion of Aboriginal culture and interests.
Owner and CEO Farid Nayerhabibi said he was proud of “what we have created and are doing within the local community and for tourism generally’’: “We have Aboriginal people from all over Australia working at Waradah and sharing their respective cultures with visitors, business groups and school children, all of which helps foster better relations and understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.’’
With two qualified teachers on staff, Waradah offers a rich educational experience and has had thousands of school students take part in programs.
It also offers a corporate program which provides a unique opportunity to develop team building exercises and initiatives through personal interaction with indigenous Australians.
Lead performer Peter Williams said: “Waradah helps create a better understanding of different cultures and how diverse the Aboriginal way of life is. It brings the white and black together by promoting understanding about each other and showing that we’re not so different. Getting people to take part in the dancing takes them out of their comfort zone and they have a lot of fun and will always remember the experience.’’
Mr Nayerhabibi said he was proud that he had not relied on any government assistance and that the staff, which was 80 per cent indigenous, represented seven different clans, a figure he was keen to grow.
““Without the support of the Darug Mountain people, the Gundungurra people and other Aboriginal elders, we would not be in a position to soon welcome our 150,000th visitor – an incredible achievement in such a short space of time.’’
Waradah Aboriginal Centre is in the World Heritage Plaza, 33–37 Echo Point Rd, Katoomba.