NAIDOC Week – Sydney events and exhibitions

The 2020 National NAIDOC Poster, "Shape of Land", designed by Tyrown Waigana.


NAIDOC Week is with us again, showcasing a range of Indigenous cultural and educational activities across Australia until 15 November.

NAIDOC – which stands for National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee – is an annual celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture that usually takes place from the first to the second Sunday in July. 

However, the Covid-19 pandemic saw the 2020 celebrations pushed back to 8–15 November, to take account of social distancing regulations.

This has necessitated a number of exhibitions and talks relocated to online interaction only; however, this also enables easier access to view events and participate in activities taking place in remote communities.

NAIDOC has its roots in the Day of Mourning, first held on 26 January 1938 by Indigenous Australians to mark the 150th anniversary of British colonisation. The protest became an annual tradition, and moved to July in 1957, then, in 1975, evolved into a week-long event combining remembrance and celebration.

One of the highlights is the annual NAIDOC Awards, which honour Indigenous Australians in 10 categories who have excelled in sports, arts, teaching and public life. They also recognise outstanding contributions Indigenous Australians have made to promote Indigenous issues in the wider community or improve the lives of other Indigenous people.

Previous winners include: actor David Gulpilil; Paralympic swimmer and cyclist Amanda Reid; Aussie Rules talent Adam Goodes; the late singer, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu; dancer and choreographer Elma Gada Kris (who helped direct the Sydney 2000 Olympics opening ceremony); folk singer Shellie Morris; actress Leah Purcell; and rugby league star Jonathan Thurston.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, the 2020 awards have been cancelled and postponed to 2021. However, the following events and exhibitions are still taking place across Central Sydney this week.

2020 NAIDOC events around Central Sydney

The Schools Reconciliation Challenge; Speaking and Listening from the Heart 

What: Indigenous school-aged artists’ exhibition at Barangaroo.

Where: International Towers (Lobbies 2 & 3) at Barangaroo, Sydney.

When: 7.30am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday. 

Ninuku Arts – Stories in Glass

What: Exhibition of new works in glass by the premier artists at Ninuku Arts.

Where: Sabbia Gallery, 609 Elizabeth St, Redfern.

When: 11am to 4pm, daily.

Pathways to Reconciliation Exhibitions – Caring for Country

What: Artworks and writing by school students.

Where: On fences facing the street at the following five primary schools: Bourke St Public School (PS), Surry Hills; Fort St PS, Glebe; Kegworth PS, Leichardt; Newtown PS, Newtown; Tempe PS, Tempe.

When: 9am to 5pm daily.

NAIDOC Week in The Rocks

What: The Rocks is celebrating with a cavalcade of events, indigenous art exhibitions, markets and cuisine.

Where: Multiple venues in The Rocks.

When: 10am to 5pm daily.

FinePrint Company NAIDOC Week

What: Celebrating Betty Muffler’s Ngangkari Ngura (Healing Country), the first ever original piece of fine artwork to appear on the cover of Vogue Australia magazine.

Where: Fineprint, 77–105 Victoria Rd, Drummoyne.

When: 10am to 5pm daily

Blak Market in The Rocks

What: Indigenous-themed arts and crafts.

Where: Tallowolladah Lawn, Circular Quay.

When: 10am to 5pm, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November.


What: A week-long virtual celebration featuring online events and panel discussions.

Where: National Centre of Indigenous Excellence.

When: visit

For further details of online exhibits, bush tucker cookery classes, author talks, discussions, workshops and concerts across wider Sydney, NSW and Australia, visit


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