The Founder of Garma: Yunupingu's Legacy

The rock who stands against time

Yothu Yindi Foundation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains the images and names of deceased persons.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains the images and names of deceased persons.

Yunupingu and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (2022)Yothu Yindi Foundation

Yunupingu. His name means ‘the sacred rock that stands against time’.

Yunupingu (2019) by Yothu Yindi FoundationYothu Yindi Foundation

He was a master of the ceremonies and a keeper of the songlines of the Yolŋu people.

Yunupingu (2019) by Yothu Yindi FoundationYothu Yindi Foundation

He held the deep backbone names of the country and the sacred knowledge of his people.

Opening ceremony at 2022 Garma festival (2022) by Melanie Faith DoveYothu Yindi Foundation

His totems were fire, rock and bäru (saltwater crocodile).

Yunupingu (2019) by Yothu Yindi FoundationYothu Yindi Foundation

His name is synonymous with some of the nation’s most significant events – the Yirrkala Bark Petitions, the Gove Land Rights case, the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, the Barunga Statement, the Native Title Act and the Voice.

Galarrwuy Yunupingu and former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke (2014) by Yothu Yindi FoundationYothu Yindi Foundation

With his Yolŋu kin, Yunupingu gifted the nation the Garma  Festival, which showcased Yolŋu miny-tji (art) bunggul (dance), manikay (song) and story-telling to a national audience, and which today leads discussion and debate on issues affecting Yolŋu and other Indigenous people.

Aerial view of buŋgul grounds (2022)Yothu Yindi Foundation

Although his influence reached the farthest boundaries of the country, he lived his entire life in Yirrkala and Gunyaŋara, among his people.

Yunupingu with his daughter, Binmila (2018) by Yothu Yindi FoundationYothu Yindi Foundation

As his eldest daughter, Binmila, said at his public memorial in May 2022: “Yunupingu lived his entire life on his land, surrounded by the sound of bilma (clapsticks), yidaki (didgeridoo) and the manikay (sacred song) and dhulang (sacred designs) of our people. He was born on our land, he lived all his life on our land and he died on our land secure in the knowledge that his life’s work was secure.

Yunupingu at the opening of 2022 Garma Festival (2022)Yothu Yindi Foundation

“There will never be another like him.”

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