The Boomerang Did Come Back: A Presentation of Musical Aboriginalia

The following paper was presented as part of the 2019 Sydney Folk Festival on August 17 at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts in NSW, Australia. Four sound recordings were played during the presentation that will be released on the Rouseabout Records compilation “Before the Boomerang Came Back: Musical Aboriginalia (1949 – 1962)” produced by Michael Alexandratos, the author of this paper. 

“I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, and pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging.”

Content warning: this presentation will include words, sounds and images that can be considered derogatory, racist and offensive. Audience discretion is advised, particularly for those who identify as First Nations.

010111C8.JPGIn September 2015, an unnamed employee from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) made the decision to play a 55-year-old novelty song at a radio station in Hobart, Tasmania. One listener complained, the song was banned, and an apology issued. But the story was far from over. The fallout surrounding the banning of “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”, a 1961 recording by English comedian Charlie Drake, continues to resonate well into the present. One only has to take a glance at the YouTube comments for this song to be berated with the all-too-familiar outcries of “political correctness gone mad.”

But Charlie Drake’s song was neither the first nor the last to profit off the mockery of Indigenous Australian cultures. Nor was it the first song to feature in its lyrics the to-ing and fro-ing of an iconic symbol of Aboriginal Australia. Behind the chart-topping success of “My Boomerang” lies a larger and mostly unexplored body of songs and musical works by white composers that reference Aboriginal cultures with varying degrees of sensitivity – from the tokenistic to the outrageously racist.  Although it may be an embarrassing legacy for some, it is also an important resource that Indigenous creatives and musicians can use to resist, re-purpose and de-colonise – on their own terms.

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As the controversy around the banning of “My Boomerang” raged, the song had already appeared on screen in the film “Spear” (2015), by Bangarra dance-theatre director Stephen Page. Drawing on vaudeville and minstrelsy – stage traditions that were taken up with gusto by Aboriginal entertainers like Jimmy Little Snr in the 1930s and 40s – the dance routine very poignantly turns the racist histories of these art forms on its head.

Even though Aboriginal creatives are free to draw from these legacies and reclaim them as their own, non-Indigenous musicians and producers must tread a very careful line if they are to re-use these songs in any way. In this case, collaboration, respect and consultation must be enacted to avoid causing harm.

In order to conceptualise this legacy of musical appropriation, I firstly had to form an identity for these songs as a basis for a usable resource. What I call “musical Aboriginalia” are songs and musical works by non-Indigenous composers that reference Aboriginal peoples, languages and cultures. Incorporated in this term is the extra-musical iconography associated with such compositions, through sheet music and record cover artwork, and designs for film and stage. This concept has as its inspiration the practices of artists like Tony Albert and Destiny Deacon, who re-purpose Aboriginal kitsch objects. I stress that my concept is neither authoritative nor definitive and can be adapted by Indigenous researchers and academics.

Using this umbrella term, I have started to document all such compositions through an index, which is an ongoing project on my research blog Amnesiac Archive. I have split compositions into two separate listings: the first, includes all manner of popular, folk and art songs with “music and lyrics”; and the second with purely musical and instrumental works, for solo instrument, orchestra or ensemble, as well as soundtracks and incidental music. The database will eventually include discographic and performance details for each work, as well all associated iconography.

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 4.53.03 pm.pngThis index of “musical Aboriginalia” by default takes a neutral stance to the cultural politics embedded in the histories of each composition. Anything that falls under my broad definition is included, even popular songs whose only reference is an Aboriginal place-name. From the standpoint of de-colonisation theory, even the simple act of compiling an index can be fraught with danger and difficulty, drawing as it does on that very colonial impulse to rigorously document “the other.” Hopefully, the use-value of this index will outweigh such problematic impulses common to the history of Indigenous studies.

Composer and academic Christopher Sainsbury, a member of the Dharug nation, has already formulated his own terms to describe the practices of Australian classical and art song composers. “Indigenous referencing” is a term he uses to describe a composer who aligns with or uses “Indigenous music, culture, themes or narratives”, while “Indigenous posturing” refers to a composer who uses these themes throughout a body of work. Admittedly, my term exhibits a bias towards popular music and culture, while the terms that Sainsbury employs are more appropriate to the composers he discusses, specifically Peter Sculthorpe and John Antill.

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The second component to this project is a reissue album of “recorded” Aboriginalia, which takes a much more critical stance than a simple index can allow. Titled “Before the Boomerang Came Back: Musical Aboriginalia (1949-1962)” the album features 13 tracks sourced from archival recordings made roughly in the decade before the release of Charlie Drake’s infamous ditty. The argument is simple: these were songs recorded during a decade of ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights, the stolen generations and continued destruction of culture, and they cannot be swept under the carpet or dismissed as pop culture frivolities – because systems of representation enforce systems of oppression. Bringing all of these recordings together in the format of a digital album and re-publishing them with artwork by Tony Albert strengthens this argument further.

The first track on the album was recorded by the Australian pop ensemble the Horrie Dargie quintet, titled “Arunta the Hunter”. This song is taken from a four-track EP released by the Melbourne-based Astor records in May 1960. The notes on the back of the EP outline the motivations of songwriters Nat Kipner and Clyde Collins, announcing that:

This is Australian popular music in a new idiom. Ironically it took a young American, Nat Kipner, now living in Australia, to write it. He saw in the ritual aboriginal rhythms and primitive dawn-time culture of one of the world’s most ancient peoples a new line of departure from the “Waltzing Matilda” and “Dave and Mabel” tradition of Australian songwriters.

According to the notes, these are “truly Australian songs”, whose claim to authenticity is supposedly bolstered by the use of Aboriginal instruments like “the gum leaf, digeridoo, bull roarer and clapsticks.”

Arunta the Hunter (1960)

Arunta the hunter,
the king of the Aborigine.

Armed with boomerang and spear,
Man or beast he doesn’t fear,
Tired of eating witchetty grub,
Grabs his nulla-nulla club.
Arunta! The Aboriginal hunter.

Arunta the hunter,
the king of the Aborigine.

Threw his spear away it flew,
Got himself a kangaroo,
Took his knife and skinned the beast,
Then he had himself a feast.

Arunta! The Aboriginal hunter.

Aborigine, doing the corroboree.
Aborigine, celebrating mighty hunting victory.
Arunta the hunter, the king of the Aborigine.

Built a fire by a billabong,
Pockets hot don’t take too long,
Gorged himself on platypus stew,
Played a tune on the digeridoo.

The dusky, the husky, the lusty Aboriginal hunter.

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This song clearly illustrates how misguided the quest for a truly “Australian” sound can be. If we are to take the liner notes at face value, this was a serious attempt to integrate Aboriginal sounds and themes into popular music.


In the artistic, literary and musical circles of Australia in the 1940s and 50s, these kinds of appropriations were seen as the answer to an ongoing debate about what a truly Australian art should be. A March 1950 article in the music magazine Tempo, endeavours to answer the question: “From what sources should the composer of a song about Australia seek to derive his or her inspiration?” According to the writer, the Indigenous people of Australia have already provided the answer, in their traditional songs about the land, with “its rivers and lagoons, its mountains and plains, its flora and fauna, its winds, its waterfalls, the wonder of its starry skies, the terror of its bushfires and…storms that, every now and again ravage it.” The writer concludes on the assumption that Aboriginal people “are all about roving, hunting and fighting too, and, in short, life – the primitive kind of course and more interesting…than that which we lead.” Sainsbury stresses that this obsessive quest for a “distinctive Australian music” is one that has notplagued First Nations composers. He writes that instead “Indigenous composers articulate stories, themes and narratives from their culture” rather than to serve any nationalist agenda.

Another track illustrating the desire of songwriters to integrate Aboriginal themes is the 1949 recording “The Song of the Dijeridoo”, performed by the vocal quartet The Harmoniques. The yidaki, more commonly known as the “didgeridoo” is an instrument that was traditionally used on Arnhem lands in the Northern Territory of Australia. The instrument has often been used as a racist trope by songwriters and entertainers to draw attention to its so-called “primitive” sound. The word “didgeridoo” does not originate out of any Aboriginal language and is likely of onomatopoeic origin from white settlers’ impressions of the instrument.


It is important to note that when the following song was written there were no commercial recordings available of actual yidaki playing. In other words, no music listener in 1949 Australia would be able to enter a record store and buy a recording of a didgeridoo played by an Indigenous musician. Instead, a record buyer could pick up a copy of this 78rpm recording for a few shillings and hear a racist send-up of it performed by white musicians. It would take another few years before the first commercial recordings of yidaki playing would become available, released on the LP “Tribal Music of Australia” by the U.S-based Folkways Records, in 1953.

The Song of the Dijeridoo (1949)

Out from Cunnamulla where the Walla Walla meets the Binnagulla.
There’s a little fella with his spear and nulla nulla, King of the Dijeridoo.

For a reasonable fee he’ll play any corroboree that’s jumpin’
and it’s sumpin’ just to hear him blow.


Dum dum doo, zom zom zoo, zom zom zoo, zoodle-oo-zoo
Bom bom bom, bom bom bom, on his dijeridoo.
zom zom zoo, zom zom zoo, zoodle-oo-zoo.
Bom bom bom, bom bom bom, on his Dijeridoo.
Thru the silver kurrajongs in the summer moon
By some misty billabong comes this tribal tune:

zom zom zoo, zom zom zoo, zom zom zoo, zoodle-oo-zoo
Bom bom bom, bom bom bom, on his dijeridoo.

Excitement has reached a feverish pitch,
The King is there with his Dijeri-what? Which?
He sits there with the band to play,
bom-diddely-ah-dah-hooray! The King!

A one, a two, a three, a four…

He thinks he’s the King of Swing on his dijeridoo,
His best friends won’t say anything,
If you was they, would you?
Zom zom bom, bom bom bom, on his dijeridoo.

Another aspect of Aboriginal culture that has been exploited by non-Indigenous composers is the corroboree. Derived from the word garabari, meaning “a style of dancing” in the local Sydney language of the Eora nation, it has become the default European word for any kind of Aboriginal ceremony. Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson write that “each Indigenous clan has a different name for a corroboree” and that “corroborees are an important part of Aboriginal culture and spirituality, and involve stories, song and dance.”


The following track, “Corroboree Rock” was recorded from verses written by Helen McEwan for a 1957 song-writing contest. Recorded in true rock n’ roll style by Tom Davidson and his band, featuring lead vocals from white blues and jazz singer Joan Bilceaux, the song’s lyrics appear on first-hearing as rather benign and naïve. However, if we view the song in its larger historical context of the 1950s, during a decade of ongoing destruction of cultural practices, the lyrics can take on a violent, if not more sinister meaning. Or does the song instead represent a kind of Aboriginal modernity, fusing as it does the traditional corroboree with the raw energy and momentum of rock n roll, a genre that itself owes a debt to black musical traditions?

Corroboree Rock (1958)

Hello Australia! What’s new Australia?
Rock rock rock, Corroboree Rock,
Everybody’s doing the Corroboree Rock.

We’ll rock in the wool sheds, rock in the towns,
Rock in the wheat fields, rock in the downs,
You rock in the paddocks when they’re feeding the flock,
Everybody’s doing the Corroboree Rock.

Rock rock rock, Corroboree Rock,
Everybody’s doing the Corroboree Rock.

The black man taught us in days long ago,
The rhythm and rockin’ really make you go,
So when you feel you’re just ready to flop,
Get up and do the Corroboree Rock.

Rock rock rock, Corroboree Rock,
Everybody’s doing the Corroboree Rock.

Now if your friends would like to start,
To do this rock with all their heart,
They can bring a kazoo or a didgeridoo,
They can bring a kangaroo to Corroboree Rock.

Come on now, let’s rock!
(Everybody’s doing the Corroboree Rock)

Rock rock rock,
Rock rock rock.
Rock rock rock, Corroboree Rock,
Everybody’s doing the Corroboree Rock.


Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 8.09.47 pm.pngMoving on to another track from the album, the song ‘Mine Tinkit Gibit Love’, recorded in 1951 by popular jazz musician Les Welch, shows a clear link between the representation of Aboriginal people in visual culture, and its equivalent in popular song. The song’s title and its use of Aboriginal pidgin English is derived from a racist advertising campaign by local clothing manufacturers Pelaco Ltd. From the early 1920s the company’s advertising began to depict a bare-foot Aboriginal man in full stride, wearing a white dinner-shirt while exclaiming: ‘Mine tink it they fit.” Aboriginal buckjumper Mulga Fred (c.1874-1948) was reportedly the model for the company’s iconic character, although he was never officially recognised as such nor paid for the use of his likeness. However, the song’s narrative does not relate in any way to the campaign. The lyrics centre on an Aboriginal man named “Jacky” who goes out into the bush in pursuit of a “pretty gin” that he can settle down with and marry.

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The use of the word “gin” presents us with another issue as it relates to the representation of Aboriginal people in popular song, especially women. A borrowing from the Dharug language of the Sydney region, simply meaning woman or wife, “gin” came to be used in a highly derogatory way for an Aboriginal woman who was sexually exploited by white men. Another derogatory term for an Aboriginal woman that has an equally contentious history is the word “lubra.” It most notably features in the song “Eucalyptus Baby” recorded in 1927 by Stiffy & Mo, stage-names for comedians Nat Phillips and Roy Rene. Australian academic Liz Conor has dealt extensively with settler impressions of Aboriginal women in her published work, including the term “lubra.”

Mine Tinkit Gibit Love (1951)

Black feller, Jacky, me
Plurry soon go walkabout,
Searchum bush for pretty gin,
Findum dere or roun’about;
Me, Jacky, wantum Mary
all belonga plurry soon.
Getum in a plurry hurry
Underneat’ t’ whiteman moon*

Mine tinkit gibit love,
Getum Mary marry me,
Makeum mia-mia by a tree,
Mine tinkit gibit love;
Mine tinkit catchum gin,
Buildum camp by billabong.
Cookum snake and singum song,
Mine tinkit life begin,
Jacky, him marry wit’ Mary in June,
An’ go a walkabout alonga honey moon;
Mine tinkit gibit love,
Get um Mary marry me.
Habum big Corroboree,
Mine tinkit gibit love.

*The first verses of the song (in bold) were not performed in the 1951 recording by Les Welch & His Orchestra. Sourced from the original sheet music.

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The previous four songs that I have presented should give one a general idea of the larger corpus of “musical Aboriginalia”, as well as the obvious problems involved in their dissemination. While compiling the album I drafted a list of questions and concerns regarding the project, many of which I am not qualified to answer, nor respond with any certainty. These included:

  • What can or can’t I say about these recordings considering that I don’t have the lived experience of being Indigenous?
  • How can these recordings be de-colonised by Indigenous creatives? For example, as samples in hip-hop or rap songs, or through theatre and performance.R-8013358-1453485420-3528.jpeg.jpg
  • Do the benefits of re-issuing these recordings outweigh their potential to be mis-used or cause harm?
  • Who really “owns” the representations of Indigenous people and culture in these songs?
  • Is it fair to include songs on the album by white musicians like Slim Dusty or Ted Egan, when they were well-loved and respected by Indigenous communities?
  • And ultimately, what can we learn from these recordings?

While compiling the album, I also became aware of the issues involved if I frame these recordings too negatively. For example, if I present these recordings as simply racist anachronisms, or suggest that they should be treated with trepidation, disgust and shame, am I sabotaging their potential reclamation and use by Aboriginal people?

In particular, I read criticisms received by academic Liz Conor for her article “the politics of Aboriginal kitsch”, published online by ‘the conversation’ on March 3rd, 2017. A response to her article appeared on the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) website in July 2018, featuring a conversation between Sally Brand and Wiradjuri elder Kerry Reed-Gilbert. Reed-Gilbert strongly criticised Conor’s negative approach to Aboriginal kitsch, saying that:

…she attempts to convince Aboriginal people and others to think the same way that she does that we shouldn’t like Aboriginalia or have anything to do with it. How dare she! I know there are others like her, and I just want to say that they have no right to speak for us and they can’t determine what we should or shouldn’t like or love…Some people think there is nothing Aboriginal that can be seen as good or beautiful in the world of Aboriginalia. I believe that this is the view Conor is spreading. These are absolutely objects of this country, not objects of disgust. The majority of us love them…There is much sadness for us because of this academic propaganda that makes some Aboriginal people feel shamed to have these things. I find that troubling. Aboriginal people should not be made to feel shamed to care for and treasure these objects. We are emotionally invested to them and the people they depict. What upsets me most is the idea that we can’t have a beautiful picture of a naked Black woman painted on velvet because it’s said by people like Conor that Aboriginal women are only seen as sexual objects to white men. How insulting is this? We, as women are as beautiful as any woman of this world. We are very proud of our beauty.

When Reed-Gilbert proclaims that these are “objects of this country, not objects of disgust” can the same also be said about the recordings on the “musical Aboriginalia” album? Are we as non-Indigenous settlers instead imposing our own guilt and shame in deciding what is offensive or not offensive, or what Indigenous people should or shouldn’t like or listen to, or indeed pass any judgement on how they connect with their representations, be they kitsch objects or racist songs? Is this not another example of white paternalism at work?

At the conclusion of this talk, I stress that it is not my place to answer these complicated questions. I have endeavoured instead to draw attention to this controversial aspect of Australian music history, and not to write the final word. Perhaps the following quote by Martin Luther King is the way forward. In a 2009 artwork by Tony Albert, King’s words are emblazoned on a pyramid of playing cards filled with Aboriginal kitsch designs. It reads: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

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The final track that I have chosen to conclude the Aboriginalia compilation is a fitting farewell to the sounds presented across the album’s 35 minutes. Featuring kookaburra calls and idealistic evocations of the Australian landscape, the echoes of an iconic  Aboriginal bush call are heard as the song fades into silence. “Cooee Call” was recorded by Australian country musicians The LeGarde Twins for their first full-length LP, titled “Ballads of the Bushlands” in 1959. Their keenness to forge a distinctly Australian identity for country music is shown by the use of an Aboriginal artwork on the album’s cover. The moral dilemma posed by this, and one that every Australian songwriter should consider, is ultimately: is this ours to use?


Bibliography & Recommended Reading

Albert, Tony. 2018. Tony Albert: visible. Brisbane, QLD: Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art.

Alexandratos, Michael. 2017, March 2. “‘Musical Aboriginalia’ – Index & Database”. Retrieved from (Last updated 17/08/2019).

Art & Australia, eds. 2015. Tony Albert. Paddington, NSW, Australia: Art & Australia.

Arthur, J.M. 1996. Aboriginal English: A cultural study. Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Ashton, Adrian. 1955. Sydney Savages 1934-1955: a history of the foundation and first twenty-one years of the Sydney Savage Club. Sydney: The Sydney Savage Club.

——————. 1974. Sydney Savages, 1956-1974: a history of the activities and achievements of the Sydney Savage Club during its third and fourth decades. Sydney: The Sydney Savage Club.

Australian Music Centre. “Indigenous influences in Australian composition”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Barney, Katelyn, ed. 2014. Collaborative Ethnomusicology: New approaches to music research between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Melbourne, VIC: Lyrebird Press.

Brand, Sally. 2018. “Aboriginalia: Conversations and connections”. In Tony Albert: Visible. Brisbane, QLD: Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art.

——————. 2018, June 29. “Reading Room Display: The Kerry Reed-Gilbert collection”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Brand, Sally and Reed-Gilbert, Kerry. 2018, July 15. “A response to ‘Aboriginalia and the politics of Aboriginal kitsch’”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Breen, Marcus, ed. 1989. Our Place Our Music – Aboriginal music: Australian popular music in perspective volume 2. Canberra, ACT: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Casey, Bill. 2008. “Modernity denied: The case of Harold Blair’s 1956 EP, Australian Aboriginal Songs”. In Dixon, Robert and Kelly, Veronica (eds.) Impact of the modern: vernacular modernities in Australia 1870s-1960s. Sydney, NSW: Sydney University Press, pp. 52-61.

Chortle (UK comedy news website). 2015, November 23. “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back is banned”. Retrieved from (Accessed 18/07/2019).

Conor, Liz. 2012. “The ‘Piccaninny’: racialized childhood, disinheritance, acquisition and child beauty”. In Postcolonial Studies, Vol 15, No. 1, pp. 45-68.

——————. 2013. “The ‘Lubra’ Type in Australian Imaginings of the Aboriginal Woman from 1836–1973”. In Gender & History, Vol. 25, No. 2.

——————. 2016. Skin Deep: Settler impressions of Aboriginal women. Crawley, WA, Australia: UWA Publishing.

——————. 2018, July 19. “Friday essay: the politics of Aboriginal kitsch”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019). Note: article first published March 3, 2017.

Creed, Barbara. 2008. “Jedda, Negritude and the modernist impulse in Australian film”. In Dixon, Robert and Kelly, Veronica (eds.) Impact of the modern: vernacular modernities in Australia 1870s-1960s. Sydney, NSW: Sydney University Press, pp. 62-72.

Dixon, R. M. W., Moore, Bruce, Ramson, W.S. and Thomas, Mandy.  2006. Australian Aboriginal words in English: Their origin and meaning (2nd ed.). Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Oxford University Press.

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Franklin, Adrian. 2010. “Aboriginalia: souvenir wares and the “aboriginalization” of Australian identity”. In Tourist Studies, vol.10 no.3.

Harney, Bill and Elkin, A. P. 1968. Songs of the songmen: Aboriginal myths retold (2nd ed.). Adelaide, Australia: Rigby.

Haskins, Victoria. 2000. “Aboriginal representations in the ceramics of Brownie Downing and the Martin Boyd pottery”. In The World of Antiques and Art, Vol. 58, pp. 68-72.

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Fantasy in Charles Chauvel’s “Uncivilized” (1936)”. In Post Script – Essays in Film and the Humanities, vol. 24, no. 2-3, pp. 48-63.

Huffadine, Leith. 2015, November 24. “ABC radio bans joke song My Boomerang Won’t Come Back because it’s racist…even though it’s been around since the 1960s”. Retrieved from (Accessed 18/07/2019).

Jones, Philip. 2004. Boomerang: Behind an Australian icon (2nd ed.). Kent Town, SA: Wakefield Press.

Kilby, David and Kilby, Jordie. 2012, October 3. “RareCollections: return of the boomerang”. Retrieved from (Accessed 31/07/2019).

Laird, Ross. 1999. Sound Beginnings: The early record industry in Australia. Sydney: Currency Press.

Latimore, Jack. 2018, June 8. “Tony Albert: a homecoming in playing cards and kitsch Aboriginalia”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/07/2019).

Loughnan, Melissa. 2017. Australiana to Zeitgeist: an A-Z of Contemporary Australian Art. Port Melbourne, VIC: Thames & Hudson.

Martin, Toby. 2015. Yodelling boundary riders: Country music in Australia since the 1920s. Melbourne, VIC: Lyrebird Press.

McNeill, Rhoderick, ????. “Symphonies of the bush: Indigenous encounters in Australian symphonies”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Muir, Fay & Lawson, Sue. 2018. Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words and phrases. Newtown, N.S.W.: Black Dog Books.

Neuenfeldt, Karl, ed. 1997. The Didjeridu: From Arnhem Land to Internet. Sydney: Perfect beat publications.

Paget, Jonathan. 2013. “Has Sculthorpe Misappropriated Indigenous Melodies?” in Musicology Australia, Vol 35, No. 1, pp.86-111.

Plush, Vincent. 2005. “A timeline for John Antill’s CORROBORREE”. For Encounters: Meetings in Australian Music. Queensland Conservatorium, 12-17 April 2005.

——————. 2005. “Black Unlike Me: Confessions of a curator”. In The Griffith Review, Issue: May 2005.

——————.2005, February 15. Programme and setlist for “THE JINDYWOROBAK REVIEW: Order of Music” held at the Queensland Conservatorium, Basil Jones Orchestra Studio, on Thursday April 14, 2005.

——————. ????. “Curator’s notes for Antill’s ‘Corroboree’ (1950)”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Reed, A.W. 1982. Aboriginal words and place names. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: AH & AW Reed.

Reed-Gilbert, Kerry. 2002. Talkin about country. Watson, ACT: Kuracca Communications.

Rolls, Mitchell. 2018, May 25. “Friday essay: William Ricketts Sanctuary is a racist anachronism, but can it foster empathy?” Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Sainsbury, Christopher. 2019. Ngarra-Burria: New music and the search for an Australian sound. Sydney, Australia: Currency House.

——————. 2019, April 30. “It’s time to properly acknowledge – and celebrate – Indigenous composers”. Retrieved from (Accessed 16/7/2019).

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. Dunedin, N.Z.: University of Otago Press.

Stubington, Jill. 1998. “The Reconciling of Port Fairy Spirits: The politics of Aboriginal reconciliation in an Australian Folk Festival recording” in Perfect Beat, vol. 4, No.1, July 1998.

Symons, David. 2016. Before and after Corroboree: the music of John Antill. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Wafer, Jim and Turpin, Myfany, eds. 2017. Recirculating songs: revitalising the singing practices of Indigenous Australia. Hamilton, NSW, Australia: Hunter Press.

Walker, Clinton. 2014. Buried Country: the story of Aboriginal country music (2nd ed.). Portland, OR: Verse Chorus Press.

——————–. 2018. Deadly woman blues: Black women and Australian music. Sydney, NSW: NewSouth Publishing.


A special thank you to Tony Albert for his generosity in allowing his artwork to be used for the album cover, and for his positive encouragement and advice.

I would also like to thank the following people who helped me source the rare archival recordings used in the album: David Crisp, Graeme Deacon, Jordie Kilby, Ross Laird, Douglas Paisley, Clinton Walker and Nick Weare.

For a downloadable document including the full script of the talk, album track notes and presentation slides please visit:




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