Songs from the Stations

The Gurindji people of the Northern Territory are 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 describes another side of life on Wave Hill Station. Among 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 Aboriginal workers across north-western and central Australia meant that Wave Hill Station became a crossroad 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, Western Desert speakers 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. 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.

Buy the book from Sydney University Press: Songs from the Stations

Figure 1.1 Line of descent of Tinker Rarrawal and Smiler Kartarta.
Figure 1.2 Line of descent of Yawalyurru, the man to whom many of the wajarra are attributed.

Musical performances

Songs from the Stations presents musical and textual analysis of the five sets of wajarra songs below.

These five song sets were recorded at Kalkaringi in 1998, 2007, 2015 and 2016, and can be streamed.

The Mintiwarra song set (15 verses, 72 song items)

Verse 1 ‘Tarnpala’ Mintiwarra1.1
Verse 2 ‘Lila-lila’ Mintiwarra2.1
  Mintiwarra2.2
  Mintiwarra2.3
  Mintiwarra2.4
  Mintiwarra2.5
  Mintiwarra2.6
  Mintiwarra2.7
  Mintiwarra2.8
  Mintiwarra2.9
Verse 3 ‘Yarlukunya’ Mintiwarra3.1
Verse 4 ‘Makurila’ Mintiwarra4.1
Verse 5 ‘Piningala’ Mintiwarra5.1
Verse 6 ‘Wartuwarra’ Mintiwarra6.1
  Mintiwarra6.2
Verse 7 ‘Rarri-rarri’ Mintiwarra7.1
Verse 8 ‘Mangkurila’ Mintiwarra8.1
Verse 9 ‘Jalyulyulyulyu’ Mintiwarra9.1
Verse 10 ‘Ngkaya Warlungka’ Mintiwarra10.1
  Mintiwarra10.2
Verse 11 ‘Wantuwarra nyawa’ Mintiwarra11.1
  Mintiwarra11.2
  Mintiwarra11.3
Verse 12 ‘Murrku-marta’ Mintiwarra12.1
Verse 13 ‘Milkunya’ Mintiwarra13.1
Verse 14 ‘Kurluturra’ Mintiwarra14.1
Verse 15 ‘Marlakurla’ Mintiwarra15.1
Verse 11 ‘Wantuwarra nyawa’
Verse 7 ‘Rarri-rarri’
Performance 19 October 2015 (1)
Verse 2 ‘Lila-lila’
Verse 10 ‘Ngkaya Warlungka’
Verse 11 ‘Wantuwarra nyawa’
Performance 19 October 2015 (1)
Verse 1 ‘Tarnpala’
Verse 6 ‘Wartuwarra’
Verse 4 ‘Makurila’
Verse 12 ‘Murrku-marta’
Performance 19 October 2015 (1)
Verse 2 ‘Lila-lila’
Verse 7 ‘Rarri-rarri’
Verse 6 ‘Wartuwarra’
Performance 19 October 2015 (2)
Verse 11 ‘Wantuwarra nyawa’
Performance 19 October 2015 (2)
Verse 11 ‘Wantuwarra nyawa’
Performance 21 October 2015
Verse 2 ‘Lila-lila’
Verse 6 ‘Wartuwarra’
Performance 21 October 2015
Verse 7 ‘Rarri-rarri’
Verse 14 ‘Kurluturra’
Performance 21 October 2015

The Kamul song set (6 verses, 32 song items)

Verse 1 ‘Waljankarra’ Kamul1.1
  Kamul1.2
Verse 2 ‘Karima rrangkana’ Kamul2.1
Verse 3 ‘Warlimirriri’ Kamul3.1
Verse 4 ‘Jarlilangka’ Kamul4.1
Verse 5 ‘Japi-japi Jangala’ Kamul5.1
  Kamul5.2
Verse 6 ‘Palkarrala’ Kamul6.1
Verse 4 ‘Jarlilangka’
Performance 19 October 2015 (1)
Verse 1 ‘Waljankarra’
Verse 2 ‘Karima rrangkana’
Performance 19 October 2015 (1)
Verse 4 ‘Jarlilangka’
Performance 19 October 2015 (2)
Verse 5 ‘Japi-japi Jangala’
Verse 6 ‘Palkarrala’
Verse 1 ‘Waljankarra’
Performance 19 October 2015 (2)
Verse 4 ‘Jarlilangka’
Performance 21 October 2015
Verse 5 ‘Japi-japi Jangala’
Verse 6 ‘Palkarrala’
Performance 21 October 2015

The Freedom Day song set (9 verses, 21 song items)

Verse 1 ‘Palngalangalarna’ Freedom1.1
  Freedom1.2
Verse 2 ‘Parrinyamparna’ Freedom2.1
Verse 3 ‘Ngurramananyangka’ Freedom3.1
Verse 4 ‘Yirtingki’ (song not available)  
Verse 5 ‘Kananyjimpa’ (song not available)  
Verse 6 ‘Wanampita’ Freedom6.1
Verse 7 ‘Majilkana’ Freedom7.1
Verse 8 ‘Janajanala’ Freedom8.1
Verse 9 ‘Jipinpana’ Freedom9.1
Verse 1 ‘Palngalangalarna’
Verse 2 ‘Parrinyamparna’
Verse 3 ‘Ngurramananyangka’
Performance 19 October 2015 (1)
Verse 4 ‘Yirtingki’
Verse 5 ‘Kananyjimpa’
Performance 19 October 2015 (2)
Verse 1 ‘Palngalangalarna’
Verse 3 ‘Ngurramananyangka’
Performance Gurindji Freedom Day

The Laka song set (15 verses, 92 song items)

Verse 1 ‘Warriwankanya’ Laka1.1
Verse 2 ‘Nyurti-nyurti’ Laka2.1
Verse 3 ‘Kuyartin’ Laka3.1
Verse 4 ‘Jarrawarti’ Laka4.1
Verse 5 ‘Kujanpa-kujanpa’ Laka5.1
  Laka5.2
Verse 6 ‘Ngarili-ngarili’ Laka6.1
Verse 7 ‘Yampi-yampila’ Laka7.1
Verse 8 ‘Yampirrikurla’ Laka8.1
Verse 9 ‘Jilkamintila’ Laka9.1
Verse 10 ‘Yuwanja-wanja’ Laka10.1
Verse 11 ‘Yarraltingura’ Laka11.1
Verse 12 ‘Kanjurrpanaw’ Laka12.1
Verse 13 ‘Pinarraya’ Laka13.1
Verse 14 ‘Tinjarra-tinja’ Laka14.1
Verse 15 ‘Waljikuna’ Laka15.1
  Laka15.2
Verse 2 ‘Nyurti-nyurti’
Verse 3 ‘Kuyartin’
Verse 4 ‘Jarrawarti’
Verse 5 ‘Kujanpa-kujanpa’
Verse 6 ‘Ngarili-ngarili’
Verse 7 ‘Yampi-yampila’
Performance 19 October 2015 (2)
Verse 5 ‘Kujanpa-kujanpa’
Verse 6 ‘Ngarili-ngarili’
Verse 4 ‘Jarrawarti’
Verse 9 ‘Jilkamintila’
Verse 10 ‘Yuwanja-wanja’
Verse 11 ‘Yarraltingura’
Verse 1 ‘Warriwankanya’
Verse 2 ‘Nyurti-nyurti’
Verse 12 ‘Kanjurrpanaw’
Verse 15 ‘Waljikuna’
Performance 21 October 2015
Verse 3 ‘Kuyartin’
Verse 4 ‘Jarrawarti’
Performance 1 November 2018
Verse 5 ‘Kujanpa-kujanpa’
Verse 10 ‘Yuwanja-wanja’
Verse 2 ‘Nyurti-nyurti’
Verse 12 ‘Kanjurrpanaw’
Verse 4 ‘Jarrawarti’
Verse 6 ‘Ngarili-ngarili’
Verse 1 ‘Warriwankanya’
Verse 9 ‘Jilkamintila’
Verse 13 ‘Pinarraya’
Performance 1 November 2018 (2)
Verse 2 ‘Nyurti-nyurti’
Verse 12 ‘Kanjurrpanaw’
Verse 5 ‘Kujanpa-kujanpa’
Verse 13 ‘Pinarraya’
Verse 6 ‘Ngarili-ngarili’
Verse 15 ‘Waljikuna’
Verse 13 ‘Pinarraya’
Verse 4 ‘Jarrawarti’
Verse 6 ‘Ngarili-ngarili’
Verse 9 ‘Jilkamintila’
Verse 10 ‘Yuwanja-wanja’
Verse 2 ‘Nyurti-nyurti’
Performance 1 November 2018 (3)

The Juntara song set (5 verses, 12 song items)

Verse 1 ‘Raljingkanu’ Juntara1.1
Verse 2 ‘Jaliwantarra’ Juntara2.1
Verse 3 ‘Jaalngarangu’ Juntara3.1
Verse 4 ‘Wangkarrangkarri’ Juntara4.1
Verse 5 ‘Pungkalangara’ Juntara5.1
Juntara
Performance 1 November 2018