We acknowledge the sharing of this land with all three tribes, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri and acknowledge that this was known as a gathering place for each tribe to come and trade. We acknowledge the sorrow for the personal, spiritual and cultural cost of that sharing and in the hopes that we may walk forward together in harmony and spirit of healing. We would like to pay our respects to each tribe and also acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

First & Forever is a new, day-long festival celebrating Blak excellence and the irrepressible force that is contemporary First Nations culture and music

Sunday 27 November
The Gathering Place, Hanging Rock
Macedon Ranges, VIC


Mushroom Group, the Victorian Government, and Bad Apples Music announce First & Forever – a new, day-long festival celebrating Blak excellence and the irrepressible force that is contemporary First Nations culture and music. Artists from multiple nations will converge on Victoria’s most spectacular stage, The Gathering Place, Hanging Rock on Sunday 27 November for this landmark music event.

Hand-picked by Bad Apples Music founder, rapper and author Briggs, the collected artists represent the myriad forms and genres through which First Nations culture continues to evolve, a dizzying procession of acts interwoven in short, uninterrupted sets.

Gates to the picnic-style event will open from 1pm, with music running into the night. Artists will showcase a set on one main stage, located at the foot of Hanging Rock – one of VIC’s most majestic and significant backdrops, and one befitting the performers’ awe-inspiring talents. A venue previously reserved for international performers, it’s a fitting setting for a bold and inspiring collection of First Nations talent.

Curated by Briggs (with a special thank you to Paul Kelly), the First & Forever line-up features 20+ supreme talents – from acts at the top of their game to iconic, progressive trailblazers, song writing giants and jaw-dropping, effervescent party starters.

Baker Boy

Arnhem Land’s beloved son – an inspirational fountain of good vibes and irrepressible talent. Leading with his trademark lyrical dexterity, Proud Yolngu man Baker Boy (Milingimbi/Maningrida) raps lightning bars in both Yolŋu Matha and English, drawing the audience into his whirling vortex of party positivity. Taking the sound and spirit of ‘80s New York City rap and breakdance traditions, Baker Boy infuses those pillars of hip hop with his own sound, culture and vitality. Be there when he rolls out the hits, including from his triumphant debut album, Gela. Just make sure you’re holding onto something when he whips out his Yidaki.


From a small beach town to the towering skyscrapers of New York City, and collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Budjerah (Coodjingburra) is at the vanguard of taking First Nations artistry beyond our shores – all of this at 20-years-old. Even now, he’s recognised as one of the most gifted vocalists of his generation. On his second EP Conversations, Budjerah glides across ‘90s R&B, delicate funk; that reveals a darker, sleeker sound, reflective of the changes that have occurred in his life. And on new single ‘Ready for the Sky’ he lets his honey-sweet talents coat ‘60s pop and gospel traditions. Budjerah’s innate ability to distil vast wells of emotion into intensely intimate moments has sent his voice criss-crossing genres, Country and continents.

Jessica Mauboy

True idol status comes with time, skill and passion. Chart-topping albums, Hollywood films and, yes, that show – Jessica Mauboy (Kuku Yalanji*) has done it all and more. Through it all Mauboy never lost sight of the importance of community, learned during her upbringing in the outer suburbs of Darwin – she works with remote community artists and isn’t shy of blessing up-and-coming artists with a vocal feature. But what it all comes back to is her greatest gift, a voice bright with generosity, range and emotion. While equally adept at tender balladry or red-hot R&B cuts, when the moment arrives, few can send a pop song exploding into inner orbit quite like Mauboy.

King Stingray

Playing fast and loose, King Stingray has come roaring out of the East Arnhem land bush ready to shred every stage that lies ahead. Frequently given the “Yolŋu surf rock” tag, the band has other tools in their belt too: the groove and step of saltwater reggae; disco licks; and deep, dessert-rock dirges. Through those influences they weave Manikay (songlines), lyrics in both English and Yolŋu Matha, the sounds of bilma (clapping sticks) and yidaki too. Its members hail from both First Nations and non-Indigenous backgrounds, led by charismatic frontman Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu; and in the case of Yunupiŋu and guitarist Roy Kellaway, familial ties to Yothu Yindi. In King Stingray, friendship, family, culture and riffs come together with explosive results.


Entering the sonic world of Sycco (Torres Strait Islands) is a dizzying experience – full of rich detail, technicolour waveforms and euphoric drops. On the strength of 2021’s Sycco’s First EP her swirling psychedelia has led to support slots for Glass Animals and soon the mighty Tame Impala too. Polish and meticulous production are interrupted by distorted vocals and fuzzed-out, synthesised guitar riffs; and playfully skipping basslines chart new courses through self-reflective pop R&B; new single ‘Ripple’ – produced by Flume and Chrome Sparks – has a sheen and build unlike anything we've seen from Sycco so far. It’s as though you’re accompanying Sycco on an adventure through the peaks and valleys of her mind – saddle up.

Thelma Plum

Thelma Plum is a pillar of strength and grace – a tireless advocate for First Nations peoples and people of colour in the music industry. Plum has increasingly turned from exploring love’s universality to cultural commentary, from the deaths of First Nations youth in custody to finding culture lacking in representation as a teenager. Still, when a delicate quiver slips into a pitch-perfect note, it’s also apparent that Plum’s strength resides in her vulnerability too. Plum’s latest EP, Meanjin, is steeped in nostalgia for her hometown and peppered with personal vignettes that range from joyful to heartbreaking: early summer karaoke to the tragedy of a sick child next door. Meanjin may be a stopgap on the way to her sophomore album, but its contemplative songs are another layer to emerge from Plum’s myriad talents.

Alice Skye

Revelatory yet relatable, Alice Skye (Wergaia/Wemba Wemba) sets hearts, minds and emotions soaring. While capable of remarkable delicacy in her songwriting, she’s unafraid of letting the guitars rip to bring you hurtling down from the heavens in deep, cathartic, rumblings. Her songs confidently swagger or swell into anthemic ballads. On her sophomore album from last year, I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good, Skye recorded herself singing in Wergaia language for the first time. Whether it’s with her voice doing the heavy lifting, or seated behind the piano, Skye’s on a journey; and at First & Forever she’s here to bring you along too.

Busby Marou

Unity and mateship defines Busby Marou. Four albums deep and the mutual appreciation between the non-Indigenous Thomas Busby and Jeremy Marou (Torres Strait Islands) is only growing – you can hear it in the interplay of their twin acoustic guitars, playful percussion, and the casual ease as their voices converge in song. Over years spent touring, the pair have channelled their observations into songs that reflect the heartbreak and joy experienced by all peoples everywhere. Their rousing songs present an optimistic vision of all that can be accomplished with love, friendship and family.

Christine Anu

Defiant, exploratory and progressive. Back in ‘95, Christine Anu (Torres Strait Islands) asserted a truth some were unwilling to accept: First Nations art and culture is contemporary, evolving and alive. That statement came in the form of her album Stylin’ Up – a recording that managed to combine trip-hop, shoegaze, dub and Balearic house; and included lyrics sung in Torres Strait Creole language. If she busts out ‘Island Home’ at First & Forever tears will flow like the Strait’s crystal ocean waters. And Anu has continued to move audiences over almost 30 years since that album’s release, her impact still resonates. Show up and pay your respects to a true pop trailblazer.

Dan Sultan

As campfire embers floated through the night, a young Dan Sultan (Arrente/Gurindji) would digest the stories of greats like Johnny Cash. He’s been cradling a guitar from the age of four – more than just an instrument, the guitar has been his friend, sanctuary and saviour. Storytelling is all Sultan has ever known – and as much as anyone, he knows that life deep down. Seven albums deep and six ARIA wins, Sultan remains an enigmatic shapeshifter. Above all, Sultan’s prolific talent endures through his ability to render humanity’s deepest universal stories from just six strings and the raw, unadulterated power of his voice.

Electric Fields

Strength, vulnerability and transcendent synth-pop combine to form new modes of expression and identity in the music of Electric Fields. Together, vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) and creative partner and co-songwriter Michael Ross, have their own inimitable sound from soulful deep house and evolving Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara culture. Ross’s compositions can run away on thick basslines or arc above the listener on the tails of shooting-star synths; and Fielding’s voice is equipped with the power to raise new landscapes from dust – let them transport you to new terrains.

Emma Donovan

Our very own reigning matriarch of soul. With a set of pipes to rival the greats, from Sharon Jones to Mavis Staples, Emma Donovan (Gumbaynggirr/Yamatji) has recorded and toured with the best: Archie Roach, Black Arm Band, Yothu Yindi, Paul Kelly – the list goes on. In her role fronting Naarm’s (Melbourne) legendary rhythm section, The Putbacks, Donovan manifests spine-tingling, hip-wriggling funk that touches the heart’s deepest recesses. Almost 30 years in, Donovan’s arguably releasing the best music of her career. A legend at the height of her powers – lock into the groove.

Tasman Keith

Dare not pigeonhole Tasman Keith (Gumbaynggirr). He can shapeshift from R&B romantic to street-level brawler to fearless self-analyst. Quite simply, Keith’s debut album A Colour Undone is one of this year’s best records – a hip-hop landmark of our time. Party rap crosses paths with explorations into the core of his psyche, family history and the pressures of expectation. And while he’s willing to take the art of rap to bracingly vulnerable places, Keith never loses sight of making the people move. Unmissable showmanship and lyrical risk-taking from a man on a mission to uplift both himself, his craft and everyone he holds dear.

Ziggy Ramo

Born to an Aboriginal and Solomon Islander father and a mother of Scottish heritage in Bellingen, NSW, and brought up across Arnhem Land and Perth, Western Australia, Ramo –whose full name is Ziggy Ramo Burrmuruk Fatnowna – defies categorisation.


Utterly unflinching in her approach, BARKAA a Malyangapa Barkindji woman is the embodiment of resilience and determination. Delivering her wordplay with devastating ferocity, BARKAA translates her experiences of hardship into lyrical projectiles that she trains on contemporary and historical sources of injustice. On her debut EP, Blak Matriarchy, the proud mum draws from the well of powerful women in her past, present and future to empower not just her own family, but those outside it too. Tearing in hot from Gandangara land (South West Sydney) BARKAA’s here to throw down hard truths and even harder bars at First & Forever – get on your feet or get out of the way.


Swooping in with a mission to elevate Blak excellence, family, community, culture and
Country is Birdz (Butchulla). Rather than focussing on besting his rivals in the rap world,
Birdz’ sites are trained on the bigger picture. Capable of ingenious sleights of hand, his
wordplay exposes toxic colonial nationalism, under the cover of lullaby beats, on the track
‘Aussie Aussie’. On his Hottest 100-featuring hit ‘Bagi-la-m Bargan’ he goes for
overwhelming directness instead, linking First Nations peoples’ continued resilience in the
present day to the defiance of his Butchulla ancestors as they encountered Captain Cook’s
first fleet. Birdz is here to carry you above the fray.


Riding in on heaving kick drums comes dameeeela (Yugerra) – the Meanjin (Brisbane)-based DJ radio host and producer. Known for championing and reinforcing the Black origins of club culture, dameeeela’s 2022 debut single, ‘The Shake Up’, says it all with its amalgam of acid-house, techno and dancehall; and a didgeridoo’s undulating frequencies echoing the track’s squelching synth lines. Big energy is in order when sweat-soaked club ceilings are swapped for wide open skies at First & Forever.

Eric Avery

Using sound, movement and filmic techniques, Eric Avery (Ngiyampaa, Gumbangirr, Bandjalang and Yuin) takes a multi-disciplinary approach to pushing music and culture into new formations. Training in Western classical music traditions since age 7, Avery is now an accomplished violinist and composer for both small ensembles and major institutions, including the Australian Ballet. Finding, exploring and learning to acutely listen to Aboriginal languages has enabled Eric to grapple with intergenerational trauma and find new modes of expression within his own cultural paradigm. Avery will perform throughout the day in support of several artists, as lead violin in the First & Forever house band.

Jess Hitchcock

Opera and folk music aren’t obvious bedfellows – unless you’re Jess Hitchcock (Saibai). Through these opposing styles Hitchcock infuses her gently plucked songs with uncommon theatricality – like the vision of bioluminescent beetles taking flight from a mangrove forest. Hitchcock’s songs speak to the invisible ties connecting family, relationships and Country. Listening to Hitchcock’s music is an opportunity to stop, let a flawless voice wash over you, and take stock of the things that really matter.


JK-47 (Gudjinburra/ Bundjalung) raps it like he sees it, over beats the drop like the full weight of history. For those on the other side of JK-47’s expertly woven narratives, the experience can be confronting – with unfaltering honesty he holds up a mirror to the imbalanced experience of colonialism. With nuance and compassion, JK-47 tackles topics some attempt to ignore: the deaths of young First Nations people, substance abuse, cycles of poverty and stolen identity. He can go inward with boom bap meditations or hit back with pavement-cracking party cuts. When it comes to elevating his art and family, JK-47 steps forward with raw intensity, truth and purpose.


With an ear keenly tuned to the low-end frequencies of club culture,

Kalyani (Trawlwoolway) explores dance music from across the globe. She takes a confident and idiosyncratic approach to her sets, which can traverse bass-heavy genres including booty bass and trap; or transport audiences with gems of Turkish and Hindi pop rarely heard in clubs this side of the equator. As much as Kalyani is firmly embedded in the underground of Naarm’s club scene, her years of songwriting experience means melody remains an essential element of her sonic tapestry.

Kardajala Kirridarra

Timelessness pervades the music of Kardajala Kirridarra. It’s as though the group has been swept in on winds of time from aeons past or beamed in from an unknown future. Ethereal harmonies swirl through shifting soundscapes, voices appear in the mist then fade back into the ether; atmospheric synths and field recordings of storms are punctuated with clap sticks, 808 high hats* and shaken seed pods. Their songs speak to women, the elements, peace and love. Together, the four-woman family group behind the project – Eleanor “Nalyiri” Dixon, Janey “Namija” Dixon, MC Kayla Jackson and Beatrice “Nalyiri” Lewis – embody a world in which spirituality, technology and Country live in harmony.”

Eleanor Dixon (Mudburra)
Janey Dixon (Mudburra)
Kayla Jackson (Mudburra)
Beatrice Lewis (Welsh/Scottish)

Kobie Dee

Richly constructed rap narratives are anchored by heavyweight bass in the music of Kobie Dee (Kamilaroi). In his confidently rolling style, the natural storyteller bobs and weaves through stories mined from his own experience; or carves out characters rendered in vivid detail. Sonically Kobie Dee can confidently float above atmospheric trap on ‘Basics’; shadowy, street-level rap on ‘Homebound’; and a masterfully constructed character study on ‘About a Girl’. He approaches serious subjects from abusive relationships to peer pressure, but can recognise life’s humour too – stories he has collected as part of the non-stop hustle to providing the best life for his daughter.


Mo’Ju (Wiradjuri) is chameleonic. They shapeshift between albums, often several times within the same release. Early experiments as a jukebox-rattling, ‘50s rock n roller gave way to swinging soul crooner; then pop experimentalist to synthesised funk adventurer. Each sonic iteration of Mo’Ju may come with new aesthetic sensibilities but their project is far from a procession of costumed characters. Rather, each of Mo’Ju’s releases feels like a peeling back of layers – a process that reveals hidden family histories and confronts the fraught yet fertile grounds of identity politics head on. With each twist and turn, Mo’Ju takes us one step closer to the core of their personal truth.

Sunday 27 November
The Gathering Place, Hanging Rock
Macedon Ranges, VIC

General Entry $79 for everyone 12 years and over
Entry for kids under 12 is free

Tickets on sale Fri 14 Oct 2022 through Ticketmaster

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We acknowledge the sharing of this land with all three tribes, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri and acknowledge that this was known as a gathering place for each tribe to come and trade. We acknowledge the sorrow for the personal, spiritual and cultural cost of that sharing and in the hopes that we may walk forward together in harmony and spirit of healing. We would like to pay our respects to each tribe and also acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.
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