May 3, 2011

awesome aussies

The Yolngu people are from the top-end of Australia and are credited with creating the yidaki (didgeridoo).

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is from the Yolngu mob and sings in Yolgnu language. He has recently appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Gurrumul is the nephew of Mandawuy Yunupingu who sang in a mixture of English and “language”  and is well-known for the song “Treaty” which was a political song over 20 years ago.

You can see a young Gurrumul playing keyboards in the Treaty video.

In case you are wondering, no, there is still no treaty.

Gurrumul can play four musical instruments (drums, keyboard, guitar, and yidaki) and was born blind.

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About hakea

groupworker, parent educator, therapist, mother of three boys.

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13 Comments on “yunupingu”

  1. Karyn @ kloppenmum Says:

    Damn, no sound card: will have to steal Craig’s laptop tonight.


  2. eof737 Says:

    Wow that is an amazing story… I have didgeridoo that I bought a few years ago in California. I never learned how to play it but it a beautifully decorated instrument. This is a fascinating story. 🙂


    • hakea Says:

      Oh, yidaki is extremely difficult to play. It requires circular breathing – breathing in and out at the same time.

      In some mobs, women aren’t allowed to play yidaki, it’s men’s business.


  3. InsideJourneys Says:

    Gurrl, I told you I can depend on you to give me the good stuff!
    Wow, this is such beautiful music! Now, I’m going to have to learn more, find a CD and add to my collection.

    So, why is it called a mob? Okay, I’ll do a little research and about didgeridoo, yidaki and Yolngu. I learn something new each time I read your post.
    Thanks again,


    • hakea Says:

      Hi Marcia

      It’s joyful stuff, even when it’s serious. There are always themes of connection to land, spirit, and people. I love that Treaty video, the beautiful faces, kids doing cartwheels on the beach, the traditional dance. And I absolutely love yidaki.

      Gurrumul has just released his second album Rrakala. People who have seen him perform live say he sings like an angel. He speaks very little English.

      Manduwuy (the uncle) was in a band called Yothu Yindi. I was saddened recently to hear that Manduwuy is very ill with renal failure caused by alcoholism. It’s such a common problem for our Indigenous people.

      Many Indigenous people speak Aboriginal English. A lot of traditional language has been lost. They have words and phrases that they use amongst themselves. For example, “deadly” means awesome. Using the word “tribe” to describe groups of Aboriginal people is considered derogatory. They use the word “mob”. They like the “gubbas” (white people) to use the word “clan”. As I work with Aboriginal people I am allowed to use certain phrases that they use, but I have to be careful that I don’t overstep the courtesy extended to me or be disrespectful.

      Thanks for your comment. I’m lacking energy today, and you have cheered me up. I’ll have to play some more Yothu Yindi.


      • InsideJourneys Says:

        One of my dreams is to travel the world to see how people who look black like me live. When I listen to his music, it sounded like reggae — the music of Jamaica. I couldn’t help thinking we’re sooo connected. Anyone who things we’re all not feeding from the collective trough is so wrong!

        You’ve brought another Aussie gem to light for me.
        I’ve made notes and will Google him and try to understand.

        Years ago, I bought a book on Aboriginal art – it spoke to me. I want to know more….

        What kind of work do you do with them? Sorry for the questions.

        I’m struck by your comment that you’re careful not to overstep their courtesy. It’s interesting to hear that especially when today we have such disregard for others.
        Sending you lots of love, energy and light,
        Thank you!

      • hakea Says:

        I work in a community development organisation. Half of the staff and programmes are Aboriginal. 25% of the students attending the school where I work are Aboriginal. My team leader and all but one of my colleagues are Aboriginal – the gubbas are the minority here! Aboriginal people are about 2% of the national population.

        I wrote some more stuff about working with Aboriginal people over at my professional development blog There’s an essay about mental health and one about social justice.


  4. InsideJourneys Says:

    Thanks, Narelle. I just read some of your work on Aboriginal people at your prof dev blog. There’s so much to learn!

    I’m going to write a post of Yunupingu for Soulful Sundays. He’s an impressive musician who’s not let his blindness get in his way. Inspiring,


    • hakea Says:

      Hi Marcia

      I should have mentioned before – I think that Gurrumul doesn’t normally play with the band Blue King Brown. That was something special for the show they were appearing on.


  5. Karyn @ kloppenmum Says:

    Finally got hold of Craig’s laptop tonight. Loved these pieces. These two gentlemen are certainly very special people.



  1. Soulful Sundays: Yunupingu « InsideJourneys - May 23, 2011

    […] buddy, Hakea, blogged recently about this amazing musician, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu in a series she calls, […]

  2. Soulful Sundays: Yunupingu | InsideJourneys - June 13, 2011

    […] buddy, Hakea, blogged recently about this amazing musician, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu in a series she calls, […]

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