Advice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this app includes images, voices and names of people now deceased.
This digital storybook is a collaboration between Yindjibarndi community leader Michael Woodley and illustrator Stu Campbell. Warlu Song is a Jawi, a song belonging to Tommy Wiliguru Bambardu, carried by Ned Cheedy and Mr Woodley. Warlu Song follows a spirit man’s epic journey as he rides a terrifying serpent, ripping up trees with an angry wind, smashing the land with floods and changing the country forever. Throughout the story readers can learn and listen switching between both Yindjibarndi language and english told through the eyes of the spirit man.
Tommy Wiliguru Bambardu (Blind Billy) was a master songsmith who was prolific in putting Yindjibarndi culture and history into song until his death in 1934. He was a Kariyarra man who lived among the Yindjibarndi people. Bambardu was born blind and perhaps because of this he developed extraordinary talents in songmaking and skills to compensate for his lack of sight.
As Mr Woodley explains, “Bambardu used to be taken by the spirit world to the country in his dreaming at night. They would take him and show him the country, then he would come back with these songs, singing everything he had seen. He sung hundreds of songs so he went on hundreds of journeys. One morning Bambardu woke up and said ‘This is what I saw last night. I saw the great snake travelling. He was travelling through the rivers and he was popping his head up, looking for the people. The snake that came from the sea, he travelled inwards into the lands. He went on a journey with the snake, just travelling around and making sure that the people living in the country were doing the right thing.’ Many of Bambardu’s songs were carried by Ned Cheedy.
Mayarringbangu (Ned Cheedy) was born at Cheedy’s Pool on Old Hooley Station and took his white man’s name – Ned Cheedy – from this place. Mayarringbangu held vast knowledge of country and culture and dedicated his life to transferring his knowledge and skills to younger generations. Mr Woodley remembers “A beautiful, gentle and gracious man, precious to all Yindjibarndi people.”
Michael Woodley is a spokesman, Birdarra Law carrier and community leader. Residing in Roebourne, Western Australia, he is the Executive Officer of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and of the Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation. Mr Woodley now carries many of the songs of Tommy Wiliguru Bambardu, the most celebrated of the Yindjibarndi Jawi dreamers. On 6 September 2011, Mr Woodley sang many of these songs for the spectacular celebration dance ceremony held for Ned Cheedy on the occasion of his 2011 NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award. ‘Warlu Song’ was one of the songs Mr Woodley sung with Mr Cheedy on that day, which was recorded, translated and interpreted for this story.