Previewing a Spring of Culture in Australia

The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by email. This week’s issue is written by Natasha Frost, a reporter in Melbourne.

Balmy temperatures have set in across much of Australia. It won’t last — the forecast is back to cooler weather early next week — but the dose of warmth is a good reminder that summer, with its plethora of cultural attractions, is not too far away.

We’ve put together a shortlist of some offerings in art, culture, design, music and theater that’ll be available through the end of the year, to whet your appetite for what’s to come.

Australian Capital Territory

Floriade at the Commonwealth Park, Canberra. Nicknamed “Australia’s Celebration of Spring,” this free flower festival, which starts this weekend, boasts more than a million blooms. NightFest, its after-dark component, is ticketed, with admission for adults starting from 35 Australian dollars ($23), and runs for four nights at the end of September. (Sept. 16 to Oct. 15)

Emily Kam Kngwarray at The National Gallery, Canberra. This retrospective explores the work of Ms. Kngwarray, an Anmatyerre artist from the Utopia community in the Northern Territory who died in 1996. Over an eight-year career begun late in life, she produced more than 3,000 works, across many different media. (Dec. 2 to April 28.)

New South Wales

Venus and Adonis at the Seymour Centre. A new play by the award-winning dramaturg Damien Ryan makes its world premiere. Billed as an analog to the 1998 film “Shakespeare in Love,” the play “tells the story of Will Shakespeare’s rival — a poet hidden in history. Hers is an extraordinary story.” (Sept. 29 to Oct. 21)

SXSW Sydney. This festival of creativity and ideas, ordinarily held in Austin, Tex., comes to Sydney for the first time. Speakers include Charlie Brooker, the creator of “Black Mirror”; Chance the Rapper; and Cal Henderson, the co-founder of Slack. Don’t miss the world premiere of the Wiggles documentary, “Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles.” (Oct. 15 to Oct. 22)

Northern Territory

Desert Festival, Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Now in its 22nd year, this festival features music, dance, art and talks by creators from across Australia, with a particular focus on Aboriginal culture. One highlight: A bushfoods-inspired dinner that “pays tribute to the knowledge of local Indigenous women and their sustainable harvesting practices.” (Sept. 21 to Oct. 1)


The Ring Cycle at Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane. See one of opera’s greatest works, as a new production of Wagner’s 15-hour epic, performed over four nights, comes to Queensland. (Dec. 1 to Dec. 31)

Woodford Folk Festival. Experience performances from thousands of artists across 35 venues, encompassing music, circus, comedy, cabaret, workshops and ceremonies, at this festival about 45 miles north of Brisbane. (Dec. 27 to Jan. 1)

South Australia

Tarnanthi at Art Gallery of South Australia. This exhibition showcases contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from across the continent, bolstered by a program of talks, performances and workshops. (Oct. 20 to Jan. 21)

Adelaide Film Festival. This biennial event showcases international and Australian cinema, with a focus on emerging talent and boundary-pushing filmmaking. “The Royal Hotel” and “Housekeeping For Beginners” are among the Australian-made films premiering there. This year’s festival will focus on cinema from Indonesia. (Oct. 18 to Oct. 29)


The Unconformity, Queenstown. Expect the unexpected: This arts festival, sometimes described as “weird and wonderful,” celebrates Tasmania’s remote West Coast. “Our unique proposition is to be a cultural conduit into western Tasmania — a place hard to get to and harder to engage — by mining a new cultural commodity with the spirit of independence, boldness, risk and adventure that is melded to our region’s D.N.A.,” the organizers write. (Oct. 19 to Oct. 22)


Melbourne Fringe Festival, various venues. Find a hidden gem or a new favorite artist at this open-access festival, with events as varied as an aquatic choir at the Melbourne City Baths (you’ll be encouraged to get into the pool); an “experimental sport/theater piece” about the life of Tennessee Williams on a dodge ball court; and a laser light show on the Yarra River. Many events are free. (Oct. 3 to Oct. 22)

Melbourne Jazz Festival, various venues. Jazz across the spectrum, from traditional to contemporary and everything in between. (Oct. 20 to Oct. 29)

Western Australia

Thomas Dambo’s Giants of Mandurah. Some things defy description, and this free outdoor exhibition from the “world’s leading recycle artist” might be one of them. (Through Nov. 11)

Here are the week’s stories.

Australia and New Zealand

An artist’s rendering of Lumakoala blackae, an animal that researchers believe lived in the Northern Territory 25 million years ago.Credit…Peter Schouten, via Flinders University
  • Meet a 25-Million-Year-Old Koala You Could Cuddle Like a Cat.The discovery of a fossil hints at the existence of an animal that researchers say could be the missing link in the understanding of evolution of marsupials in Australia.

  • SpongeBob Lives in a Pineapple. These Sharks Live in Sponges.Researchers were not engaged in nautical nonsense when they discovered that a small shark species inhabits the absorbent and porous animals.

  • Sharks on a Golf Course Made a Watery Grave Unlike Any Other.A group of bull sharks ended up spending 17 years in a lake by a golf course’s 14th hole, suggesting that the predators can live in low-saltwater environments indefinitely.

  • Island Nations Hope for Court’s Help on Climate’s Effects.A tribunal is expected to issue an advisory opinion on behalf of Pacific and Caribbean countries on whether greenhouse gases are pollutants that violate international law.

Around The Times

Members of Mexico’s Congress were told that this was once an extraterrestrial.Credit…Mexico’s Congress, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Mummies From Outer Space? Mexico’s Congress Gets a Firsthand Look.A self-proclaimed ufologist showed members of Congress what he claimed were two mummified specimens of extraterrestrial beings. Experts scoffed.

  • The Rolling Stones on Starting Up Again.The band opens up about how its first album of new songs since 2005, and first since the death of Charlie Watts, recharges the partnership of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

  • ‘A Ticket to Disney’? Politicians Charge Millions to Send Migrants to U.S. The Biden administration vowed to “end the illicit movement” of people through the Darién jungle. But the number of migrants moving through the forest has never been greater — and the profits are too big to pass up.

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