I was recently lucky enough to get to the Alice Springs Beanie Festival in Central Australia. As it gets very cold in winter in the desert, beanies are a must, and this volunteer-run Festival has arisen not only to bring the community together but also raise funds to support Indigenous communities via their sharing of their skills. Over 6000 beanies were submitted and nearly $200,000 raised. I tried to make one for this year but it turned out so ugly I had to put it down and content myself with enjoying everyone else creations.
I was able to spend a couple of hours with the lovely Tjanpi Weavers and learn how to make raffia baskets. They use raffia, as non-native buffalo grass has taken over most of the natural grasses they used to use, including Tjanpi grass. But they do like raffia and sang a song in its praise.
I was impressed with what a beautiful town Alice is, and of course loved the burnt orange colours everywhere. Festivals such as this continue to bring people who love to make together and provide a gathering and sharing place, always fun, always colourful.