SINGING children to sleep is something understood throughout the world, whatever the language.
People from nine different cultures shared their lullabies on Wednesday at the opening of this year's Write Around the Murray festival.
Punctuated by drums – one drummer had arrived in Australia only four days earlier – and in front of colourful banners depicting their scene, presenters at Albury LibraryMuseum sang of elephants, chocolates and mother coming back soon.
In its 10th year, Write Around the Murray expects to attract about 5500 participants to its program of more than 60 events over five days.
Festival co-ordinator Ann-maree Ellis said the 2016 theme, Unsettling the story, explored the intermingling of memory and imagination.
“We don’t limit it just to writing and reading, we look at story telling in all its forms,” Ms Ellis said.
Lullaby and Goodnight co-ordinator Caryn Giblin said rehearsing for the opening event represented a wider cultural project as the participants, who had Tongan, Dutch, Thai, Iranian, Nepalese, Aboriginal, Togolese and Italian backgrounds, rehearsed together.
“Once they started to share their lullabies there was that instant connection,” Ms Giblin said.
Lavington’s Jinyapa Oupatham not only presented the elephant song from Thailand with her son William, 7, but also created the sketch designs for the banners, which were erected outside the LibraryMuseum afterwards.
“I’m very proud with the job because I learn a lot of things from the other people,” Miss Oupatham said.
“I learn the language, I learn the music, I learn how I can dance. Everyone has a different song.”
Albury mayor Henk van de Ven officially opened the festival, encouraging the audience always to make reading a priority.
“It’s a great way of bringing knowledge to yourself and enjoyment and relaxation,” he said.
Ms Giblin told the crowd Lullaby and Goodnight celebrated the diversity of Albury-Wodonga.
“All cultures sing songs to their babies and toddlers and this is what connects us with our young children and with each other,” she said.
“Through the sharing of these nine different cultures, let your heart sing, as it once did as a child.”
Program details at writearoundthemurray.org.au.