Students set to rock the plains at outback festival

Wilcannia Central School students are gearing up to share the stage with some of Australia’s biggest names in music. Vivienne Jones reports.

Image: The Wilcannia Choir will take to the stage with Missy Higgins at the Mundi Mundi Bash.

It’s Monday afternoon at Wilcannia Central School, on Barkandji land, and nine students are preparing for choir practice.

But for the last time before they meet in person, on stage, in front of thousands of people, a special guest is joining them via video call – singer-songwriter Missy Higgins.

The digital practice has been a weekly highlight for the students aged 7 to 12, according to teacher and deputy principal Sarah Donnelley in the lead-up to the outback festival.

The Wilcannia Choir will join Missy Higgins on Thursday night to sing her song “Big Kids” on day one of the three-day music event.

“It is pretty special for the kids and I am so excited for them,” Miss Donnelley said.

“To be on a world stage and to see musicians they have grown up listening to is pretty unbelievable for these kids.

“We have been working pretty hard for the past couple of weeks and I just can’t wait to see them up there doing what they love.

“It is really special for me too – because I know the kids don’t just come to choir to be involved in an event like this, it is just an added bonus to be able to share what they love.”

The choir will also be performing a song written by Barkandji woman Nancy Bates with students from Wilcannia Central School and Menindee Central School, called Family Song, which is sung in a mixture of language and English.

“After the traditional welcome to country the students will take the stage to sing Family Song, which is so important to them,” Miss Donnelley said.

“They will sing part of the song in language which is really special.

“The Mundi Mundi Bash is a relatively new festival, but it is massive, and people come from all over the country to be there.

“So, for our kids to be involved in this way is just unbelievable.

“We are so grateful to have been invited to perform at the festival and all our kids and their families who are coming along are so excited.”

Headliners at the bash include Midnight Oil, Jimmy Barnes, Missy Higgins, Jon Stevens, Kasey Chambers and Daryl Braithwaite.

The opportunity to be involved in the Mundi Mundi Bash came about after Miss Donnelley won the 2020 Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year award.

Due to the pandemic altering plans, the 2022 event was the first opportunity the school had to accept the offer to perform.

Wilcannia Central School is a Connected Communities school with around 100 students.

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