1996, 53 Minutes
This film shows the Yolngu’s attempts to come to terms with, and solve, problems that had arisen in their community since the commencement of the Gove bauxite mine.
1974 was a troubled time for the Yirrkala community. The Gove bauxite mine on its doorstep had been operating for four years. The effects of alcohol, from the newly built mining town of Nhulunbuy, were causing grave concern to the Yirrkala leaders. There was, we are told, a breakdown in social values among young people. This film shows the Yolngu's attempts to come to terms with, and solve, these problems. Despite the gathering storm clouds, Yolngu culture was still vibrant.
1974 was also the time of transition from policies of assimilation to those of self-determination. The Uniting Church had just handed over control of Yirrkala to the Yolngu. Most importantly it was now that the movement by clans back to their own lands really took off.
Through a series of disparate sequences this film captures something of the mood at Yirrkala at this time. A young Galarrwuy Yunupingu (later to became Chairman of the Northern Land Council and an Australian of the Year) talks of his hopes for the future; clan leaders discuss their worries about alcohol abuse in the community. We also see the very early days of the clan homeland movement. It is the wet season and some of these remote clan settlements receive supplies by air drop. Daymbalipu Mununggurr takes the film unit to his Djapu clan settlement of Garrthalala on Caledon Bay.
A Film Australia National Interest Program produced in association with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Directors: Ian Dunlop, Philip Robertson (1972)
Narrator: Ian Dunlop
Featured People: Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Keith Hendry, Gatjil Djerrkura, Roy Marika, Daymbalipu Munungurr
Running Time: 53 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Indigenous Studies; Studies of Religion; Legal Studies - Contesting laws: Heritage, culture and land; SOSE/HSIE; Australian History - of particular relevance for NSW History Stage 5, Topic 6 'Changing Rights and Freedoms' Section A: Aboriginal Peoples - Change over Time; NSW History Stage 4 'Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples, Colonisation and Contact History: What has been the nature and impact of colonisation on Aboriginal, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?'; English; Performing & Visual Arts. Teachers’ notes and background material are included on DVD.