Discover the Aboriginal heritage of Vaucluse House and join us as we celebrate the annual gawura (whale) migration season with a day of interpretive stories and dance inspired by a series of distinctive engravings carved thousands of years ago into the Vaucluse landscape.

The gawura migration is a unique and ongoing story of Aboriginal connection to country, signifying revitalisation and rebirth. Sydney Living Museums’ annual Whale Festival invites visitors on a journey of interpretation to help understand this special story shared by many different Aboriginal communities.

The day begins at 11am with food, activities, tours and storytelling at Vaucluse House. Then join us at 12.30pm at the Vaucluse Estate beach paddock for the traditional smoking ceremony and welcome to country. Experience the significance of the whale to Aboriginal culture through dance performances from Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness and Djaadjawan Dancers.

Inside the Vaucluse House kitchen, Sydney Living Museums’ own colonial gastronomer, Jacqui Newling, will be cooking up some whaler’s ‘pot luck’ seafood chowder, referencing Sydney’s early whaling industry. Visitors can also take a whale-themed tour of the historic Vaucluse House.

Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a selection of food in the Vaucluse House Carriage Loop. You can also enjoy breakfast, lunch or high tea at the Vaucluse House Tearooms.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this festival takes place, and pay respect to Elders both past and present.

For information on accessibility at Vaucluse House, go to our Visit page.

The Whale Festival will go ahead in the event of wet weather. Please check our website and Facebook event page for updates.

Whale Festival program

Download the 2018 program [PDF]

Event schedule

On the Vaucluse House Estate Beach Paddock
12.30pm: Welcome to Country by Aunty Vivienne Mason
12.40pm–1.15pm: Smoking Ceremony and Whale Dreaming Ceremony by Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness
1.15pm–1.40pm: Nangmbi Muryira performed by Djaadjawan Dancers

In and around Vaucluse House
11am–3pm: Fred’s Cultural cook-up
11am, 12pm, 2pm: Chowder tastings with Jacqui Newling
11am–3pm: Children’s activities
11am, 11.30am, 12pm, 2pm, 2.30pm: Vaucluse House Whaling Tours 

Share your Whale Festival experience with us on our Facebook pageInstagram and Twitter. Use #WhaleFestival and @sydlivmus. 


Free event

Register now

When & Where

Sunday 7 October 2018 11AM–3PM

Vaucluse House

Wentworth Road, Vaucluse, NSW 2030
House: 02 9388 7922
Tearooms: 02 9388 8188

Register now