Dark MOFO!

Dark MOFO – there’s nothing else like it.

More mid-winter madness at Dark MOFO: although there were a few hiccups along the way this year, pandemics and closed borders didn’t stop the edgy fun. An annual event in Tasmania, Dark MOFO is the brainchild of entrepreneur and art collector, David Walsh. And it happens right on our doorstep – in the streets and venues of Hobart, Battery Point and Salamanca.

This year’s festival features all the usual events: music, food, fire, dark symbols, and, of course, the winter solstice nude swim. A short walk from Fusilier Cottage down historic Kelly Street took us to the heart of the festival – the winter feast, where we caught up with the locals, drank our fare share of local beer and wine, and caught some amazing music.

Highlights on Saturday included soulful contemporary vibes from harpist Emily Sanzaro, traditional bagpipes and drums from the City of Hobart Highland Pipe Band, sexy New Orleans jazz from Reeba Von Diamond, and a spine-tingling performance by indigenous artists, King Stingray.

‘This is our future,’ commented my friend. It was approaching midnight as we stood in the crowd, moving to the beat and reflecting on how things are changing on our beautiful, dark island. The band performed against the backdrop of Salamanca Place’s colonial warehouses, blood-red for the festival. ‘This not my country, bloody cold down here!’ quipped singer Yirrnga Yunupingu.

King Stingray is a story of lifelong friendship, of two cultures coming together. From toddlers in the Yothu Yindi tour entourage in the 90s, to fully fledged Yothu Yindi members today, King Stingray sees Yirrnga Yunupingu and Roy Kellaway bringing surf, indie rock and funk influences to their Yolngu rock heritage.

On Sunday, we joined five thousand others to take part in the ritual burning of this year’s ogoh-ogoh. As the sun went down behind Kunanyi, Mount Wellington, members of the Indonesian community gathered to parade the Balinese ogoh-ogoh, a gigantic, green-lined ground beetle from Bruny Island, leading us through a communal ritual of renewal.

At night the city glows red, and every morning around sunrise, every evening at sunset, the streets of Battery Point echo to an ethereal sound; an unearthly music, emanating – or so it seems – from the cold air itself.