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Our International Day performance 2020

This year we were again called upon to represent Australia at Elliot’s school’s International Day. In many of Australia’s national narratives, the archetypal Australian is white (and often male). We are also white so it would be easy for us to tell those stories: they’re the ones we grew up with. However, these are often written on a backdrop of dispossession, so this year we chose to tell another side of that story with the iconic song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ which tells the events of the Wave Hill Walk Off. We gave a short explanation and then acted out the song.

———————

G’day we’re from Australia. Many people know about Australia’s big sheep and cattle stations but they don’t know that this land was stolen. Today we want to perform for you a famous Australian ballad about a hero who got his people’s land back.

His name was Vincent Lingiarri and his people were the Gurundji. Today he will be played by Elliot.

The man who stole his land and set up a cattle station was Lord Vestey and today he will be played by Mama Elliot.


When Lingiarri got his people’s land back from the leader of the Australian government was a man called Gough Whitlam. He was a very tall man but today he will be played by the shortest member of our family, Callum.


The last thing you need to know is that in Australia when we give back land that was stolen, the symbol is we get some dirt or sand and we pour it into the other one’s hand.


This is From Little Things Big Things Grow and it’s written by Paul Kelley and Kev Carmody.

Gather round people I’ll tell you a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
’Bout British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiarri
They were opposite men on opposite sides

Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land
Daily the oppression got tighter and tighter
Gurindji decided they must make a stand

They picked up their swags and started off walking
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don’t sound like much but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Vestey man said I’ll double your wages
Seven quid a week you’ll have in your hand
Vincent said uh-uh we’re not talking about wages
We’re sitting right here till we get our land
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
You don’t stand the chance of a cinder in snow
Vince said if we fall others are rising

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiarri boarded an aeroplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life

And Vincent sat down with big politicians
This affair they told him is a matter of state
Let us sort it out, your people are hungry
Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiarri returned in an aeroplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent’s fingers poured a handful of sand

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

That was the story of Vincent Lingiarri
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

Photo credit: Rebecca Laarman

Categories: Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.

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