Zest Festival

In conjunction with the Kalbarri Development Association, Shire of Northampton, WA Museums and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe 1100-1800) developed the Zest Festival, which ran from 2012 to 2016.  It was an annual event and offered activities celebrating cultural contact from the seventeenth-century Dutch to the present.

We in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) are delighted to have contributed to the Zest Festival.

An important research priority for our Centre is to understand, and enable all Australians to appreciate better, both emotions in the past and Australia's strong emotional investment in our European heritage.  In this fascinating history the first points of contact between Europeans and Australasia are crucial. The Zest Festival, commemorating the 300th anniversary of the wreck of the Zuytdorp in 2012, and the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dirk Hartog in 2016, celebrated just these occasions.

When the Dutch and South African survivors of the Zuytdorp shipwreck struggled ashore at Shark Bay in 1712 to meet the local indigenous people, they unwittingly started a centuries-long process of contacts, clashes, negotiations, co-operations and compromises between Europeans and Australians.  What emotional understanding did they bring with them? What expectations did they impose on Indigenous and Asian peoples, and what did they learn from them? What are the emotional traces of those early contacts today? The Zest Festival enabled us all to focus on these questions to bring to light new discussions about European / Australian relationships, to see our history with fresh eyes, and to share our heritage with the whole community.

CHE's partnership in the Festival aimed to enrich the cultural lives of country West Australians by providing them with a glimpse of a significant collision between two worlds - European and Indigenous Australian - and igniting new interpretations of history as well as a different look at the town's heritage.

In 2012, the Zest Festival included a 'Still Life/Our Life' exhibition exploring the life of the Dutch in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries alongside life in Kalbarri today.   Contemporary creative works by Kalbarri local artists that reflect the modern Australian life - domestic or exotic - were exhibited in conjunction with images of Dutch still life paintings and Dutch seventeenth-century objects from the Western Australian Museum's shipwreck collections.

In 2013, the Festival cast its eye over the ocean to Cape Town in South Africa – a critical place for sailors to rest, restock and re-man their vessels. Kalbarri explored its cultural connections to the Cape and celebrated these through dance, movement, art, music, performance, food and adventure.  Click here for a snapshop of the 2013 Festival.

In 2014, the Festival focused on colour and textiles, religions and philosophies, and the important rituals in life from birth, death, marriage and the coming of age  in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. We explored the precious cargoes of dyes and textiles traded by the VOC and how these new products impacted on Europe. Who made these dyes and textiles, what did they mean in daily life and how did the new trade affect their lives’?

In 2015, the Zest Festival focused on the human desire for new and beautiful things and the emotions surrounding them, exploring Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies, origami arts, bonsai, and the crafting of fine objects and how the history of Dutch trade of these objects influenced the aesthetics and desires of Europe. Under Kalbarri night skies, visitors experienced the dramatic enactment of the court of a shogun, a theatrical performance incorporating large-scale puppetry, music, acting and dance, which told the story of the shogun and the impact of European visitation.

In 2016, we commemorated the400-year anniversary of Dirk Hartog’s landing in Shark Bay in his ship Eendracht, which means unity. We recognised those who preceded us, acknowledging their contributions to our Australian society today and the human qualities which opened up new possibilities and connections to the world.

Visit the Zest Festival website for further details.

Download 2013 Education Pack


Download 2014 Education Pack


Download 2015 Education Pack


Download 2016 Education Pack



Zest book 70x70Far From Home: Adventures, Treks, Exiles, Migrations
The Zest Festival, September 2013
Download Part One here.
Download Part Two here.
                       Download Part Three here.

Zest book coverStill Life / Our Life: Emotions across Time, Art and Place
Zest Festival, June 2012
Download PDF version