News & Reviews

Arnhem Land; All fun and wonder when Circus Oz came to Yirrkala

20th August 2013

WHEN Josh Bond was a little tacker growing up on Elcho Island, 20 years ago, Circus Oz brought a show to town that changed his life forever.

Two decades later, after working in circuses across the world, Josh is now the Artistic Associate and Indigenous Programs Manager of Circus Oz; and he’s brought the circus back to Arnhem Land.

“It’s been the realisation of a dream,” he said.

“I remember as a kid, Circus Oz coming through and the profound effect that had on me.

“It inspired me on a whole range of different levels; but certainly in terms of my career.”

He said it had always been his dream to one day bring a big show back to Arnhem Land.

“Something even bigger than what I saw, back out to my families and the communities, and hopefully have a similar or more of an effect than it had on me.

“Essentially, without it being geared towards any specific outcomes; just a way for people to have a great time and a chance to witness something different.”

With feats on display at Yirrkala Oval last Wednesday including acrobatics, balancing and contortionist tricks, hilarious magic and comedy, the crowd from Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala certainly saw something different.

The Circus Oz Goes Bush Tour travelled through Arnhem Land from July 29, to communities such as Maningrida, Ramingining and Gapuwiyak, and delivered the same scale show at each spot, always for free.

Artistic director Mike Finch said it hadn’t been a tour of comfort, but that didn’t matter at all.

“It has been really, genuinely pleasurable.

“We’re used to touring in planes and staying in hotel rooms, and here everyone’s been staying in dongas and camping out.

“So, it’s been awesome, getting back to the simplicity of it.”

Before Arnhem Land, Circus Oz had been performing shows in New York City and Las Vegas.

Mike said all the shows on the Goes Bush tour had been held outdoors, usually on footy ovals, where local kids would always enter into the fun.

“All the kids would come and help us set up, so you’d just end up with dozens of kids running around all asking questions, chucking amazing acrobatic tricks - they’re just fearless and natural.”

The kids weren’t the only ones chucking fearless acrobatic tricks - Circus Oz’s world-class performers had the crowd gasping with their dizzying stunts.

Mike said many of the children in the communities had never seen a circus before, and had no idea what to expect.

“They were like, ‘what is a circus, is it like dodgem cars and Ferris Wheels?’

“They sort of imagined it was like the Darwin Show - so we just said, ‘wait and see’.”

Circus Oz brought something to Arnhem Land for the kids, and something for the adults to unleash their inner kid.

They brought something universal - a show that talked languages everyone can
speak - the languages of fun and wonder.

Matt Garrick
Arafura Times