Djalu Gurruwiwi

Djalu Gurruwiwi 2013
Djalu Gurruwiwi
Gi'kal - Sacred Galpu Homeland, Site for Yidaki Traditional Knowledge University

Dhanggal Gurruwiwi conducting a cultural induction for international visitors at Djalu's master class in 2008

"The Yidaki brings peace, harmony and healing to the world. Come, learn, play and understand." One of the challenges is to help people understand the value of a Yolngu yidaki. The general tourist trade would not be able to distinguish Djalu's Stradivarius yidaki from the average $300 yidaki sold in an airport tourist shop. This lower end of the market tended to de-value the much higher quality products made by the Guruwiwi family and other Yolngu clans. So one of the tasks of the current enterprise is to demonstrate just how valuable Djalu's and Yolngu yidaki are. A Traditional Knowledge University or Yidaki University at Gi'kal

Before you read on please listen to Dhanggal Gurruwiwi talking directly about the nature of the Rripangu Yidaki enterprise and the Galpu clan's larger vision of the Yidaki Traditional Knowledge University.#

One of the larger long term projects arising from Rripangu Yidaki is to create a traditional knowledge univerity or yidaki academy at Gi'kal the sacred homelands of the Galpu people. Is a Yidaki Traditional Knowledge University feasible? The Yolngu clans have relied on institutions like Charles Darwin University (CDU) to support their activities. CDU has been a great and active supporter. But the time has come for Indigenous cultural institutions to emerge which are not run by external administrations either in Darwin or in Canberra. This is the long term dream of the Galpu people.

The Australian of the Year 2009 Mick Dodson has talked about the way in which in the United States Indigenous communities are funded by Federal government but are autonomously managed and run by the Indigenous communities themselves. The concept of an enterprise based homeland strategy that involves international support through the 'knowledge economy' is a new development. It differs from a rights based approach and it is also different from the CDEP funding that has supported homelands in the past. The Galpu clan, and all of their Dhuwa and Yirritja relations, have developed their own international recognition thanks to the path breaking work of Yothu Yindi, Warrumpi Band, the annual Garma Festival of Traditional Culture, Buku Larrngay Mulka, the Saltwater Band, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the Chookie Dancers and many others; the question is can new, sustainable social and cultural businesses on homelands be created on the basis of this recognition? The Galpu people are resolved to achieve their dream regardless of the difficulties and challenges.

No-one doubts the complexity of this task. A prospectus for a traditional knowledge university that is run by the Galpu clan is under constant development. It involves creating annual master classes for international yidaki students, creating a supportive environment for young people to study traditional and mainstream knowledge systems and creating a nurturing environment for the advanced study of traditional knowledge. There will not be one giant step towards these ends but rather a series of steady steps that will evolve over time.

At the heart of everything is the high level of knowledge that is held by leaders like Djalu Guruwiwi and their family and clan members. The knowledges and song cycles learned and understood by Djalu represent the oldest unbroken culture of any civilisation in the world. This knowledge is precious and sacred and needs to be supported through a well endowed traditional knowledge university structure. Increasingly the international and Australian community is recognising this and there have been several Indigenous cultural institutions established in the South Pacific, Canada and the United States.

Another important reason for a a Yidaki Traditional Knowledge University is to preserve and develop the song cycles of the Galpu clan. In effect a traditional knowledge university operates across North East Arnhem Land all year around, season after season and it has been doing so for a time period stretching back beyond modern civilisation. Aa rich, modern country like Australia should recognise this treasure in its midst. In traditional culture ancient knowledges have been retained in the minds of the leaders and elders and transferred on at appropriate times to new leaders. Modern culture in many ways places these traditional ways at risk. The Galpu and Yolngu peoples have used new technology to help young people to learn the music, dance and songs of their culture. This needs to continue in even more sophisticated ways that are controlled by Yolngu people.

It is vital that enterprises and larger projects remain controlled by the Yolngu people themselves. This is why the Ripangu Yidaki enterprise will develop with the Galpu clan at the centre of its development.


How you can help

Come to Arnhem Land, book your tours and make your arrangements through Lirriwi Yolngu Tourism

The best thing you can do to help us is to invest in us by coming to Arnhem Land and spending time with our people. Lirrwi Yolngu Tourism is owned and supports Yolngu community enterprises. So please make all your arrangements for travelling to our lands through Lirrwi. They will be best able to book you into our special tours, events and educational events. If you make a conscious effort to spend in ways that benefit Yolngu peole you will make a great contribution to our community.


If you are a government or private sector investor and the concept of a sustainable traditional knowledge industry hits a chord with you then we would like to hear from you. We would like to develop investment vehicles that allow you to invest in the economic development of our homeland. In many cases these investment vehicles need to be customised to particular infrastructure and buildings for example and they must take into account the needs and requirements of investors. So the best place to start is to begin a conversation about our needs and your financial investment needs. In general terms we are looking for long term patient capital investments that can be paid back over an agreed period of time.

Community Support

If you are not an investor then you can still help us by voicing your enthusiasm for our work, enrolling in our classes and supporting our enterprise by recognising the high value of our Yolngu yidakis by purchasing them at a reasonable price and being aware of "fake yidakis" that are usually produced overseas.

One of the things that we want to stop is the black market in yidakis that are purchased at cheap prices by sometimes well meaning tourists who offer below market prices in cash to our community members. If you would like to support our long term enterprises then please purchase yidakis through our nominated Yolngu owned and controlled businesses such as Lirrwi Yolngu Tourism, Rripangu Yidaki or Buku Larrngay Mulka. From time to time we will offer yidakis at wholesale prices but we hope that if you would like to support us that you will pay the full retail price of the instruments we produce.

All Yolngu yidakis are made from natural processes. There is no artificial drilling and our instruments are harvested in a sustainable way. There is a great amount of work in crafting a yidaki. All authentic Yolngu yidakis are also created with a view of the sacred knowledge and role of the yidaki that is thousands of years old. These are some of the major differences between yidakis that can be purchased cheaply at airport lounges and tourist destinations. We hope that an increasing number of Australians and citizens of the world will be able to distinguish and respect these features and will be prepared to pay for our knowledge, understanding and craftsmenship.


# Dhanggal Guruwiwi made this presentation as part of the 9 day Miwatj Management Development Program that was run by the Aurora project and the Australian Graduate School of Management Program ran in Nhulumbuy in October 2008.


Project description: 
Djalu Gurruwiwi is arguably the finest yidaki (didgeridoo) practitioner and craftsman in the world. Rripangu Yidaki is the name of his family business that supports his extended family group. The enterprise protects the ancient knowledge of his Galpu clan and ensuring there is employment and income for his people. There are several associated projects here including the long term dream of a Yidaki Traditional Knowledge University at the Galpu homeland of Gi'kal and the learning and culture centre at Mata Mata.
Lead Organisation: 
Lirrwi Yolngu Tourism Aboriginal Corporation
Contact Name: 
Djalu Gurruwiwi
Contact Mobile: 
Contact Fax: 
08 8987 2304
Support Type: 
Students are encouraged to enroll in the annual Yidaki Master Class and to support the Rripangu Yidaki enterprise in this way. Investors are encouraged to contact Karen Young, Manager, Lirrwi Yolngu Tourism Aboriginal Corporation.

Funding Amount:

Northern Territory<br>Northern Territory - East Arnhem Land
Campaign summary: 
This campaign is to support Djalu Gurruwiwi as a significant elder in his community.
Campaign ID: