Oct 10, 2012

Solid Rock: white man’s song, white man’s gig

Julia Winterflood attended the celebration for an iconic song about Aboriginal dispossession at Uluru -- and found a sea of white people taking photos with their iPhones.

Shane Howard, frontman of the band Goanna, was walking around Uluru 30 years ago. A big mob from Amata, a community in the north-west corner of South Australia, had set up a tent and were performing imma, a community ceremony. Shane wandered over and was invited to sit down. The experience moved him and he wrote a song about it, Solid Rock.

Solid Rock became an iconic Australian protest song and recently at Mutitjulu, on the eastern edge of Uluru, Howard (along with John Butler and others) celebrated the song’s 30th anniversary by recreating it. The “Other Side of The Rock” concert was free and despite it being held in a community usually closed to unrelated outsiders, everyone was welcome.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “Solid Rock: white man’s song, white man’s gig

  1. Robert Brown

    “…celebrated the song’s 13th anniversary …”

    Pretty sure it’s the 30th anniversary…

  2. dave williams

    Pretty sure Iwantja was on the bill, but failed to show up to play.

  3. Kevin O'Grady

    Have spent lots of time in lots of Aboriginal communities and have never once heard Goanna or John Butler being played. Maybe there weren’t many locals at the concert because they weren’t interested? Perhaps Julia W should be more worried that it’s generally a racist who’s bothered by the racial construct of a crowd. Horrid shame she works in education…

  4. Teresa O'Brien

    Please remove this offensive story and print the writers apology posted today on her blog instead. Unfortunately, she got the story very wrong and the Mutitjulu community and ‘Other Side of the Rock’ concert production team are very offended. This event was run by the community and an invitation was sent, by them, out to all whitefellas to come to Mutitjulu and start building bridges with music .. and they did! What a success.. well done Mutitjulu mob, keep up the great work! Crikey should be more careful or may be accused of supporting bad journalism. ( PS:The sno cones were not ironic, but they did keep all our kids cool on a very hot day and help raise funds for the community!)

  5. Julia Winterflood

    I wrote ‘Solid Rock: Solid white out’ the moment I got back to Alice early Sunday afternoon after the concert the night before. I was still reeling with sadness and heartache and when I’m upset I write, so that’s what I did.

    This afternoon I received a call from one of the production team. He was deeply upset and offended by my article, said the rest of the production team were hurt and offended too, and that members of the Mutitjulu community would feel the same. We spoke for almost half an hour and when I got off the phone I cried.

    It was a mistake publishing the piece on my blog and sending it to Crikey. It was a mistake because it was filled with assumptions.

    I only asked Anangu “Where is everybody?”

    I didn’t ask “Are you having a good time?”

    I believe the worst thing you can do to a person is make them feel like a stranger in their own land. I thought the massive influx of whitefellas would have made Anangu feel like strangers in their own community. That was an assumption I made, and it was wrong to make that assumption.

    The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is never make assumptions about how people feel, and never assume all Aboriginal people will feel the same way about something. Of course they won’t. Perhaps there were Anangu who did feel strange on Saturday, and perhaps there were Anangu who had a ball.

    I wrote my piece from the perspective of a whitefella who was deeply distressed by the sea of white faces when she expected to be in the minorty. But I failed to consider that perhaps Anangu were not distressed at all.

    For this assumption I am deeply, deeply sorry. I offer a bottom-of-my-heart-and-soul apology to Shane Howard and the entire production crew, but most of all to the community of Mutitjulu.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details