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3 Nov & 4 Nov, 10 Nov & 11 Nov, 17 Nov & 18 Nov


“Kooranup, is the place beyond the horizon and past Moombaki, where the water meets the sky. It is the heavenly shore located in the far west. Our spirits final resting place in the Noongar Nyitting (Dreaming)”. – Ilona McGuire

The Fremantle Biennale’s acclaimed drone light and sound experience, First Lights, returns in 2023 with Kooranup, a sequel to the stories shared through Moombaki in 2021. This epic spectacle of light, movement and sound will again transform the night sky with 160 drones taking flight over the stage of the bilya (river) and wardan (ocean).

Pioneering new technology and artistic practices to share ancient knowledge, Kooranup will reveal the first stories of place across three weekends and three locations. Revealed will be a series of connected stories by artists Yabini Kickett, Cass Lynch, Tyrown Waigana, and Ilona McGuire, guided by Whadjuk Nyoongar Traditional Owners.

On the first weekend, as the saltwater laps at the shores of Bathers Beach, Tyrown Waigana brings to life a witty reflection of an ancient story of ancestral beings and an epic battle that shaped our coastline.

On the expansive grounds at the river edge, Yabini Kickett’s offering calls us to attention within the natural landscape; from the echoing sounds of wind in the sheoaks to chirping frogs of the bilya (river), this is a story of kinship, interconnectedness and transformation.

The last chapter will unfold across the ocean, on Wadjemup (Rottnest Island), with a collective offering, led by Ilona McGuire and writer Cass Lynch. This closing chapter offers a space for deep contemplation across land and water, weaving together the many stories across time, both beautiful and heartbreaking, that are held by the island.

Come, sit by the water, share in the ancient and living stories of Kooranup.

Co-presented with City of Fremantle, City of Melville and Rottnest Island Authority.

Artists: Yabini Kickett, Cass Lynch, Ilona McGuire and Tyrown Waigana.
Whadjuk Cultural Advisory Group: Aurora Abraham, Len Collard, Walter McGuire Jnr, Ezra Jacobs-Smith and Glenys Yarran.
Composers: Thalia Skopellos, Ned Beckley, Josh Hogan
Narrator: Jayden Boundry
Sound Design: Envelope Audio
Animation: Jarrad Russell
Technical Partner: Stellar Lights

Date and Time

Manjaree (Bathers Beach, Fremantle)
Fri 3 Nov & Sat 4 Nov
7.30pm arrival for 7.50pm start
Live stream via our Facebook (7.45pm Sat 4 Nov)

Dyoondalup (Attadale Reserve, Attadale)
Fri 10 Nov & Sat 11 Nov
7.30pm arrival for 7.50pm start
Live stream via our Facebook (7.45pm Fri 10 Nov)

Wadjemup (Army Groyne, Rottnest Island)
Fri 17 Nov & Sat 18 Nov
7.30pm arrival for 7.50pm start
*Kooranup at Wadjemup event is free to attend but due to limited capacity, registrations are essential.
Book ferry tickets here
Live stream via our Facebook (7.45pm Fri 17 Nov)

Audio-Described & Assistive Listening Performance
Fri 3 Nov (bookings essential here)

Auslan Interpreted Performance
Fri 3 Nov, Sat 11 Nov, Sat 18 Nov

  • Yabini Kickett

    Yabini is an artist with ties to Ballardong, Nyaki-Nyaki, Wadjuk people of the Bibulman Nation. Her work focuses on portraiture, endemic plant and fungal species, and stories from her kin. Yabini was a 2017 participant in the Wesfarmers National Indigenous Arts Leadership program in Canberra. Since then, her work has been acquired by the West Australian Art Gallery, and Yabini has gone on to explore curating with her latest project Djennung! Yeyi! Yorga Koorliny at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in NSW.

  • Ilona McGuire

    Ilona McGuire is a Bibbulmun Noongar and Kungarakan interdisciplinary artist. Her interests in all forms of creative expression manifests through culturally informed visual work, writing, performance and an open artistic practice. Ilona centralizes the Indigenous experience of Australia’s ongoing systemic dysfunction by exploration of its historical, social and political impacts on her families and broader communities. Following her 2021 drone light show, Moombaki with the Fremantle Biennale, Ilona was awarded the Schenberg Art Fellowship for Hatched: National Graduate Show 2022 and residency at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA). 2022 and 2023 saw her work exhibited at Fremantle Art Centre, Stala Contemporary, Goolugatup Heathcote Gallery, John Curtin Gallery and in NSW for the National 4: Australian Art Now.

  • Tyrown Waigana

    Tyrown Waigana is an emerging Noongar and Torres Strait Islander artist. Through his surreal concepts and abstract painting, Wardandi and Saibai Islander multidisciplinary artist and graphic designer Tyrown Waigana probes themes like identity, feelings, politics and art history. Waigana explores storytelling through illustration and animation under his brand Crawlin Crocodile. He won the 2020 National NAIDOC poster competition and was named the 2020 NAIDOC artist of the year.

  • Cass Lynch

    Cass Lynch is a Koreng Wudjari Noongar woman descended from the families of Ravensthorpe in the Great Southern region. She is a writer and research fellow, and has a PhD in Creative Writing that explores Noongar stories that reference climate change. She is a member of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories group who focus on the revitalisation of culture and language connected to south coast Noongar people. She is the co-founder of the Aboriginal literature project Woylie Fest, which facilitates bringing Noongar stories into print and training community members to be presenters. Her Noongar language haikus, published in Westerly 64.1, won the 2019 Patricia Hackett Prize. Her audio storytelling works have been featured at Perth Festival, Arts House Melbourne, CCA Glasgow, and PICA. Her short story ‘Split’, a creative impression of deep time Perth, can be found in the UQP publication Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now.

  • Bathers Beach, Fremantle
  • Attadale Reserve, Attadale
  • Army Groyne (Army Jetty Road), Rottnest Island
  • Information

    Duration: 15 minutes, with Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony prior to event (30 minutes)

    6.30pm: Doors open
    7.30pm: Welcome to Country
    8:00pm: Drone Show


    Event Information:
    Each event is outdoors, and exposed to the elements, so prepare according to the weather. We recommend bringing warm clothing, any food & water you might need, and something to sit on.

    Any delays or cancellations due to Weather will be posted via our website and social media channels.


    While there are no lock outs, we recommend coming early to find the best spot, and make sure you make the show. Each drone show goes for 15 minutes, so make sure you’re set up well before. 



    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are advised that these performances contains references to historic events and stories that some viewers might find confronting or disturbing. 

    Viewers are advised that First Lights – Kooranup (Wadjemup) explores themes and histories of imprisonment and violence related to Rottnest Island’s prison era, which some viewers may find distressing, confronting or challenging.




    Viewing Locations: Along Bathers Beach.




    Accessible portable toilets will be available next to Kidogo Arthouse. A little further is Esplanade Park Public Toilets and Arthur Head Public Toilets. Food and drink will not be available, but you can bring a picnic, or there are several great hospitality options nearby. Visit our Plan Your Visit section for our favourite cafes, restaurants and bars.





    Viewing Locations: The grassed area of the reserve along Burke Dr, between Ormond Rd and Tanson St.



    The Fremantle Biennale recognise the high natural conservation and cultural values of the area and have put in place a range of management measures to ensure that impacts are adequately managed during the event.

    To learn more about the area please visit the DBCA Swan Canning Riverpark website.


    This event will have Accessible portable toilets. Food and drink will not be available, so we recommend bringing a picnic.





    Viewing Locations: Army Groyne and beach area.




    This event is free to attend but due to limited capacity, registrations are essential. 




    All registered attendees will need to collect a wristband either from their event day ferry services or at the Rottnest Island Events Info Marquee, which is located on Thomson Lawn, in front of the Main Jetty on Rottnest Island. Open 2 – 6pm.

    Wristbands will be checked at the entrance to the event.


    Accessible toilets are located at the event site. Food and drink will not be available at the event site, so we recommend bringing a picnic or stopping at the Main Settlement for supplies on your way to the event.

  • Getting There



    Round House Car Park
    Marine Terrace Car Park 2
    45 Mews Rd Parking
    Esplanade Car Park


    Public Transport:
    The event location is a 12-minute walk from the Fremantle Train Station, which is the final destination for the Fremantle Train Line, as well as several bus routes.




    Event parking will be located at Attadale Reserve on Burke Drive.


    Public Transport:
    The 148 and 158 both stop at Wichmann Rd before Lawlor Rd, which is an 11-minute walk to the event location. Please note that this service is quite infrequent. The 910 bus travels along Canning Hwy. Get off the bus after Preston Point Road, and then it’s a 20-minute walk to the event area.




    Travel to the island:
    Ferry Services: Dedicated late-night event ferry services will be run by SeaLink, Rottnest Express and Rottnest Fast Ferries.


    View the ferry schedules and BOOK TICKETS here.


    Private Boats: If you are travelling to the island via private vessel (and use a private/public mooring), please note that navigable water closure will be in place around the drone event site.

    From the Main Jetty: Army Groyne is a short 10-15 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride along Parker Point Road, turning left at Army Jetty Road. For those with access needs a return bus service will run from Main Settlement bus stop to the Army Groyne event site.


    For further information on Rottnest Island travel, facilities and things to do, visit the Rottnest Island website here.

  • Access


    The main event area is on a beach with soft, uneven sand. However, there is accessible and wheelchair accessible viewing located along the Boardwalk (between Kidogo Arthouse and Bathers Beach House). See event map for location.

    Accessible portable toilets can be found next to Kidogo Arthouse, with additional toilets at Esplanade Park Public Toilets and Arthur Head Public Toilets. The nearest ACROD parking can be located at Marine Terrace Car Park and Little High Street Parking. 


    The event area is located on grass, mostly flat surfaces with some uneven areas. Wheelchair accessible viewing is available via a flat footpath, accessed via corner of Burke Dr and Ormond Rd. Accessible parking bays will be marked nearby at the car park at the corner of Burke Dr and Ormond Rd. See event map for location.



    The event area includes the soft sand beach area, and a bitumen road area (the Army Groyne).  The Army Groyne, bitumen road area offers wheelchair access and viewing.
    Accessible toilets are located at the entrance to Army Groyne.

  • Image credit

    Photo: Kim Scott, First Lights – Binalup, 2023. Produced by Fremantle Biennale. Co-presented with City of Albany. Photo: Jarrad Russell.

    Gallery: Kirli Saunders, First Lights – Buungbaa-ma-ndhu, 2023. Produced by the Fremantle Biennale co-presented with Ngununggua. Photo: Brian Rapsey.