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The Watsons Bay Festival


The following uses the Watson’s Bay Festival as an example of the use of Festivals towards new cultural and intercultural syntheses. In the Sixties, a passionate group formed the Total Care Foundation, a registered charity. This entity was one of many formed to support Community Mutual Help. This Total Care Foundation was used to evolve and hold the Watson’s Bay Festival in 1968 on Sydney’s South Head. Watson’s Bay Festival was the first of eleven festivals energized/ influenced by the Total Care Foundation over the years up the East Coast of Australia.


The process of exploring how people change as they work together to change aspects of society was as important as evolving and holding some event. The collectives in involved used the process of organizing festivals and events in order to evolve networks and community. In the process of coming together to put on the Watsons Bay Festival the participants were forming cultural locality (people connecting together connecting to place.


During Festival-based preparatory interacting all involved were constantly attending and sensing and supporting self-organising, emergence, and keypoints conducive to coherence within the festival generating contexts – monitoring theme, mood, values and interaction.


The Watsons Bay gathering was an opportunity to explore community mutual help, this time with the combined themes of ‘intercultural cooperation’ and ‘all forms of artistry for wellness’. With the 1968 Watson’s Bay Festival, multiculturalism was fostered in Australia. The Watson’s Bay Festival in Watson’s Park was more than multicultural, it was intercultural in that it fostered sharing links among strangers from differing cultures. The Watson’s Bay gathering demonstrated an early resonance with what has been called ‘cultural healing action’, where social action combines music making, percussion, singing, chanting, dancing, reading poetry, storytelling, artistry, and sculpting – all within intercultural festive and celebratory contexts. 


A planning letter from Total Care Foundation to the Sydney Town hall details that the Watsons Bay Festival would be held Sunday 13 October 1968 from 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Robertson Park and Watson Bay Park, and that it would be completely open to public with no fees. Preplanning for the Paddington Festival is also mentioned. The Watsons Bay Festival would feature an international display of music, dancing and national costumes. Artefacts would be displayed at the Watsons Bay Branch library, including a display by artists John Olsen and Brian Cummins. Clickers would be given out so the crowd could ‘Clickerlong’ with the Bands in the evening. This blending together of all forms of artistry is a repeated theme in all of the events energised by the Foundation and parallels use of all forms of artistry in Indigenous life.


Another letter to the Town Hall in Sydney speaks of the Women’s’ Social Group, called the Care Free Committee of the Total Care Foundation, helping with the evolving of the Watson’s Bay Festival. This social group was another process for bonding people together. The letter states that during the Festival there was an art exhibition at the Masonic Hall. One Gallery alone lent $14,000 of paintings.

The Watson’s Bay Gathering Celebration was timed to coincide with the Sydney All Nations Waratah Festival during 6-13 October 1968. In keeping with the intercultural synthesis focus, the Watson’s Bay Festival featured the cultural artistry from twenty-three different countries.


Australian Don Henderson sung folk with poetic interludes

Australian Folk singer - Don Gillespio

A collection of expensive sculpture, pottery and art was on display

 -  on loan from Art Galleries

Czech Trich Trotch Polka

Filipino Band

Greek display by Girls of the Lyceum Club

Hungarian Czards

Indian dance by Rama Krishna

Indonesian singers

Israeli Dancer - Vera Goldmen

Japanese dancers

Karate display

Malaysian Scarf dance

Mike Harris - guitarist

Oriental dancers

Polish dance music and songs

Rev Swami Sarcorali and Roma Blair

The Yoga Fellowship gave a Yoga demonstration

Sally Hart - also folksy

Spanish Classical guitarist Antonio Lazardo

Spanish Flamenco Dancers

Spanish Flamenco Guitarist played by Ivan Withers

Welsh folk singers


In the evening was a psychedelic light display and pop band.

 The Second Festival – The Paddington Festival

To launch Paddington Bazaar to surround his Paddington Community Mental Health Centre, The Total Care Foundation worked with the local community in evolving the Paddington Festival. Creating a community public place (cultural locality) – the Paddington Bazaar was one of the themes in exploring community mutual help in energising the Paddington Festival. It was held over the weekend of 21 - 22 June 1969.

On the Saturday there was a market bazaar in the main Paddington Town Hall. The Paddington Mid Year Festival was held the next day. The Paddington Bazaar evolved out of the community energy of this festival. The Bazaar, also called Paddington market, thrives to this day as a community market. This model embeds self-help wellbeing-focused action within everyday community contexts.

Festival Three - Centennial Park Festival


The next Festival evolved was the Centennial Park Festival, a few kilometres from the Sydney Central Business District. The Festival covered 540 acres in the North Eastern Valley of the Park. This was Australia’s first hippie festival. Again, the shared experience of Foundation members working out how to get things happening together was a central focus. The Centennial Park Festival was supported by many Embassies, Consuls, civic groups, arts groups, national and international societies and clubs and schools.  The Foundation inviting the support of many foreign embassies continued his ‘intercultural cooperating’ theme in events. They were also exploring the strengthening of civil society based artistry. The range of events at the Centennial Park festival extended the Watsons Bay example.





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Revisiting Government and Facilitating Grassroots Action 


Enabling – Enabling others to Engage in Mutual-Help for Community Wellbeing


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Recognising and Evolving Local-lateral Links Between Various Support Processes 


                                    Examples of Community Mutual Help