Songs from the Stations: Wajarra as Performed by Ronnie Wavehill Wirrpnga, Topsy Dodd Ngarnjal and Dandy Danbayarri, with Additional Verses by Patrick Smith, Jack Gordon and Marie Gordon
Paperback | Mar 2019 | Sydney University Press | 9781743325841 | 250pp | 250x176mm | GEN | AUD$40.00, NZD$47.99
The Gurindji people of the Northern Territory are perhaps best-known for their walk-off of Wave Hill Station in 1966, protesting against mistreatment by the station managers. The strike would become the first major victory of the Indigenous land rights movement. Many discussions of station life are focused on the harsh treatment of Aboriginal workers.
Songs from the Stations portrays another side of life on Wave Hill Station. Amongst the harsh conditions and decades of mistreatment, an eclectic ceremonial life flourished during the first half of the 20th century. Constant travel between cattle stations by Indigenous workers across north-western and central Australia meant that Wave Hill Station became a cross-road of desert and Top End musical styles. As a result, the Gurindji people learnt songs from the Mudburra who came further east, the Bilinarra from the north, the Nyininy from the west, and the Warlpiri from the south.
This book is the first detailed documentation of wajarra, public songs performed by the Gurindji people in response to contemporary events in their community. Featuring five song sets known as Laka, Mintiwarra, Kamul, Juntara, and Freedom Day, it is an exploration of the cultural exchange between Indigenous communities that was fostered by their involvement in the pastoral industry.