2005, 26 Minutes
In life Adrian Wagg forged an extraordinary connection with Arnhem Land and its people; in death he was given a remarkable Yolngu burial, an ancient ceremony revived in his honour.
Pilot Adrian Wagg arrived in Arnhem Land in the 1970s, a young man newly wed and looking for adventure. He soon fell in love with the place and its people, helping the Yolngu to build homes on their ancestral lands and establish their own airline.
The Pilot's Funeral recounts the life of this gentle giant of a man. But more than this, it tells of the extraordinary ten-day funeral ceremony that followed his tragic death in a helicopter accident. Not since the arrival of missionaries in the 1930s had the Aboriginal people of northeast Arnhem Land buried their dead in a dhakandjali, a sacred painted hollow log. But on a June afternoon in 2002 in the remote Northern Territory community of Yirrkala, the Yolngu people revived this ancient practice - not for an Indigenous person, but for this white man who they embraced as one of their own.
The ceremony, captured in this moving documentary, celebrates a remarkable bond, connecting black and white, people and land, past and future.
A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director/Writer: Rose Hesp
Featured People: Sally Wagg, Daniel Wagg, Tim Wagg, Baluka Maymuru, Nuwandjali Marawili, Dhunggala Munungurr, Galuma Maymuru, Wukun Wanambi, Bob Wagg, Jonetani Rika, Mick Helms, Klaus Helms, Raymattja Marika, Gawarrin Gumana.
Running Time: 26 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Indigenous Studies - Beliefs and Values; Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE); Religion; Cultural Studies; HSIE (Aboriginal Studies Stage 6); English K-10 'Insights into Aboriginal Experiences in Australia'; Performing and Visual Arts.