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The Beanie Capital of the World...

Updated on January 27, 2013

Old stories...

There are old stories... that weaves it way through this land. The threads come from tribes and communities... of ancient times and the people, that still survive today. Those stories have merged into new stories, sharing and bridging different cultures. These stories are deeply felt and woven through the land... touching hearts and minds...

The original Beanie Festival was held to sell beanies that had been crocheted by the Aboriginal women in the remote communities of Central Australia. It was an event where people from different cultures could share and exhibit their works together. It has evolved and continues to grow, developing Aboriginal women's textile, promoting the indigenous women's culture and handmade textile arts. It is a bridge between cultures.

Wombat (1987 Bronze) by Silvio Apponyi - from the Araluen Collection, Acquired by Alice Springs Art Foundation as a winer of the Alice Prize, 1987.
Wombat (1987 Bronze) by Silvio Apponyi - from the Araluen Collection, Acquired by Alice Springs Art Foundation as a winer of the Alice Prize, 1987.

The festival has continue to include participation from the local indigenous women by inviting, exhibiting and working with the women from many communities and town camps such as Ernabella, Abbott's Camp, Amoonguna Arts Centre, Docker River, Hidden Valley, Ilparpa, Kanta Camp, Little Sisters, Mutijulu, Mount Nancy, Ntaria, Titjikala, Trucking Yards, and Aboriginal hostels Ayipirinya and Topsy Smith.

Today, the beanie remains at the heart of the festival, creating a regional art form unique to Alice Springs and Central Australia. Every year hundreds of artists are busy with yarn, felt, seeds, feathers, buttons, pearls, beads, and anything else they can weave into a beanie or tea cosie. Utilising all the colours imaginable, the material is coiffured, twirled, pinched, pleated, plaited, felted, braided, weaved and woven, where ever your imagination wants to take you. With so many people wanting to be involved, you can bet that even now there are 'beanieologists' thinking and working on their projects for the next Beanie Festival.

New yarns...

In recent years the theme for the festivals included: 2006 Colours of the Country; 2007 My Journey; 2008 Mukata, Mukati, Muna! Beanies From All Around; 2010 A Head Full of Love; 2011 Earth Wind Fire Water; 2012 Old Stories New Yarns.

It is amazing to see how this art and craft form can excite such passion in so many people from around the world. Each year, thousands and thousands of beanies pour into Alice Springs. From all shapes and sizes, colours and form, these wonderful beanies spin new yarns, they tell new stories, and they bring a smile to the faces of both young and old...

The Alice Springs Beanie Festival provides a unique cross cultural partnership bringing together two diverse Australian cultures under the one festival. There are beanies that tell the stories of Central Australia's Indigenous culture, there are beanies created from a loss and sadness, others created from a need and happiness, many from artistic inspiration and those beanies created just for fun.

Whilst there are beanies and beanies, there is much more to the festival with textile and craft workshops, weaving and spinning demonstrations, stalls of home made foods and cakes, indigenous food and indigenous traditional medicine. The official launch is party atmosphere with entertainment, live musicians, beanie parade and the announcements of the winning beanies for the competition exhibition.

So, if you have never been, make sure you plan in advance your next trip to the heart of Australia in time for the next Alice Springs Beanie Festival. Join the many beanie makers and festival goers, who make the annual pilgrimage to a unique destination and an iconic event. You can even become a volunteer for a fun family event. Who knows, maybe one day, I will learn to crochet a beanie for the festival...

Drum Atweme is a drumming group of young people from town camps in Alice Springs.
Drum Atweme is a drumming group of young people from town camps in Alice Springs. | Source


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    • Ausemade profile image

      Ausemade 5 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for your comment and vote... we have just posted some images of the Alice Springs Law Courts being "Yarn Bombed"... you can see them in the photo albums on our facebook page

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      I heard about the beanie festival a few days ago in Kununurra because we are in a group called The Traveling Beanie & I have a photo of Daryl Summers wearing my one in Wyndham ! Voting you up !

    • Ausemade profile image

      Ausemade 5 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for your kind comments... for those who actually get involved with the festival, it is one of the friendliest here in Alice. Even more amazing are the beanies that are knitted for the competition side of the event. Australia does have a number of quirky and iconic events, from camel races, frog races, viking funeral, beer can boat race and of course our Henley-on-Todd Regatta, just to name a few... :)

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      I hadn't heard of the festival before, but looks like everyone was having a ball! Nice Hub to read and I enjoyed the photos.