Whanala Galiwin’ku: Yolngu stories about cyclones

In 2015 Cyclone Lam devastated the island community of Galiwin’ku, located in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Just one month later, with the island community still battling to recover, Cyclone Nathan, although less ferocious, added to the damage unleashed by Nature in such a short time.

With housing just being replaced and the visible and widespread effects of the cyclones still apparent in the natural landscape across the island, the community continues to rebuild. No one rules out similar events happening again and there is still much to share and to learn about what happened when the cyclones hit and how to manage and prepare if there were to be similarly ferocious natural events. A combined understanding of traditional knowledge and western science may help people to prepare and manage in the future.

Watch the films below

Ferment Collaborate worked with Australian Red Cross in Galiwin’ku to create a series of films to share local stories about some of the impacts of the cyclones that devastated the island community in 2015. In 2017, we also created a series of cyclone education resources to enable the community to be more prepared for future events.  


PROJECT 1: Whanala Galiwin’ku? (2016)

Thanks to Joanne Garnggulkpuy, Elaine Maypilama, Evonne Mitjarrandi, Christine Motatj, Danny Burton and Elise Fenn. 

The first, titled Whanala Galiwin’ku? (Where is Galiwin’ku?) created 3 films released in October 2016. These films presented stories about the impacts of the two cyclones in 2015, as well as some of the broader social, cultural, economic and political contexts that have affected people’s recovery. Interviews and discussions with Galiwin’ku community members were facilitated by Elaine Maypilama and Evonne Mitjarrandi with Steph Vajda.

Below is a promotion we made for the first Whanala Galiwin’ku? release – Whanala Dhiyanguny Bala Galiwin’ku? and below that you can view all of the films in this series.


PROJECT 2: Yolngu cyclone education resources (2016)

Thanks to Joanne Garnggulkpuy, Heather Yepparnga, Christine Motatj, Evonne Mitjarrandi and Baykali Ganambarr. 

Our second major project completed in Galiwin’ku created a set of practical cyclone preparation educational films to enable Yolngu people to adequately prepare for future cyclones and similar natural events.  The project was delivered through joint funding received from the Australian and Northern Territory Governments as part of the Cyclone Recovery Fund in 2016-17.

For more about this project and to watch the films, go to the project page.


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