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Writing in the Sand

The Epic Story of Legendary Band Yothu Yindi and Treaty, the Song that Gave Voice to a Movement...

Matt Garrick



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01 November 2021
The epic story of legendary band Yothu Yindi and Treaty, the song that gave voice to a movement. With an introduction by Yalmay Yunupingu and Witiyana Marika.

Words are easy, words are cheap
much cheaper than our priceless land
but promises can disappear
just like writing in the sand.

- from Treaty, Yothu Yindi's 1992 ARIA Song of the Year

Sometimes a musical revolution can explode from the most unlikely of places. Long before they were ARIA Hall of Fame inductees, Yothu Yindi were a bunch of Yolngu (Aboriginal) and balanda (non-Indigenous) mates in far-north Australia jamming together for fun. Soon they were creating some of the coolest new music in the country, splicing traditional sounds with electric, and spreading a message of hope.

Then when singer Mandawuy Yunupingu penned the hit song Treaty with Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett, and a remix dropped in 1991, Yothu Yindi shot up like a meteorite, out of Arnhem Land and into the hearts of kids across Australia and the world.

Writing in the Sand by Yothu Yindi's authorised biographer Matt Garrick is the epic story of one of Australia's most original bands and how Treaty gave voice to Indigenous Australia's hard-fought struggle for recognition. Featuring photos from the band's archives never previously published, the book is based on extensive interviews with current and former band members, including mainstays like Witiyana Marika, Stu Kellaway and Jodie Cockatoo-Creed, as well as family members such as Yalmay Yunupingu, the late singer Dr Yunupingu's widow, and collaborators and fellow artists like Peter Garrett, Neil Finn and Andrew Farriss.

Funny, poetic, heartfelt and steeped in the sights, smells and unique rhythms of East Arnhem Land, this is a must-read for anyone who cares about Australian music, and Aboriginal culture and politics, all woven together by one of the most exciting bands of our time.
By:   Matt Garrick
Imprint:   ABC
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 243mm,  Width: 165mm,  Spine: 40mm
Weight:   712g
ISBN:   9780733341809
ISBN 10:   0733341802
Pages:   432
Publication Date:   01 November 2021
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Matt Garrick is an award-winning writer and journalist currently based in Darwin. Formerly features editor at the NT News, he has lived and worked extensively in East Arnhem Land, for the ABC, as a freelancer and as the editor of the local paper, the Arafura Times. He's now a full-time journalist at ABC Darwin. Garrick has been following Yothu Yindi's story since his dad took him to see the band play in Sydney's Centennial Park as a kid. He has written about the band extensively, formed close working relationships with members and their families and has worked as the band's media coordinator and official biographer. Writing in the Sand is his first book.

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