Darwin N.T. written the day of his passing.
June 2 2013.
Only a dull sadness right now.
Our surf band The Break played in Darwin last Sunday night, coincidentally the night of his passing. We met with AJ who is Yothu Yindi’s manager, and we were all asking after Mr Yunipingu. He told us he was finally on a recently installed dialysis machine back home in Yirrkala with his family around him.
The last time we were in Darwin in 2011 we met up for a coffee at the Roma Bar with Mr Yunipingu. He was doing regular trips to hospital in town as there wasn’t a dialysis machine out in his community. He wasn’t in great shape, living in a little flat in Darwin. It didn’t seen right somehow for such a leader and one so connected to his land.
He was a great man. A teacher. The first indigenous school principal. A spokesman for his people and therefore for us all.
I remember meeting him for the first time on a boat in Sydney Harbour for the razz a mattaz of the Bicentennial in 1988. We moored off Lady Macquarie’s Chair where the Aboriginal silent protest was. We raised the Aboriginal flag up the mast. There weren’t many of those on all the expensive yachts around us.
Things have changed since then and Mr Yunipingu and his band were smack in the middle of that change.
Because he was such an inspiring speaker, because he spoke from the heart.
The Oils toured with him through the US on our Diesel and Dust tour and knew him as a brother. He was quick with a smile and a joke and we all loved him, as brothers do.
“Lay me down in the sacred ground.
Keep me from the cold.
Keep me in the deep warm Earth.
Where the stars can see my soul.
Take me where them trees stand tall.
By the waters in the riverbed.
Let me face the rising sun.
Commend my spirit to the wind.
Make NO monuments or mortal crowns.
Or speak my name again.
When you lay me down.”
Eulogy For A Black Person ~ K. Carmody (1990)