Saturday, August 1, 2009

How the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine was created!

The Aboriginal and Torres Straig Islander Grapevine was created in recognition of Australia's leading Aboriginal actor, Mr David Gulpilil. Mr Gulpilil is Australia's most recognised Aboriginal personality with many films to his name. Some of his most famous films include "Storm Boy", "Rabbit Proof Fence" and most recently "Ten Canoes".

The ATSI Grapevine is intended to help you stay in touch with family and friends, network with community members, and other Aboriginal and Islander people, find out whats happening in other States and Territory's. You can also update your list of contacts, and find out whats happening near you. Join up and find family and old friends, or let everyone know what is happening in your home town. Learn new language words, ask about Aboriginal and Islander heritage, or simply join and be a part of Australia's newest network for Indigenous people.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine (ATSIG) was created because thats what it took to get a message to Gulpilil, who has no mobile phone because there are no mobile phone towers in Arnhem Land. Gulpilil is a member of the remote community of Ramingining. The call went out on Aboriginal Radio on the East Coast of Australia on National Radio that the Directors were looking for David Gulpilil. One thing about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) community is that news travels fast. Someone heard this message and a few phone calls later and finally one of David's relatives heard the message and went to find David.

His journey is one that no man would willingly take, but being a relative and knowing his "Country" the message was on its way to Gulpilil. A few hours car ride into Arnhem Land, then on foot walking to a crocodile infested river, and swimming across the creek and then a few more miles on foot before he reached Gulpilil's Camp which is in the middle of nowhere.

Gulpilil knew someone was coming and then he received the message that he needed to call about a job. So Gulpilil trekked the many miles on foot, then swam across the crocodile infested river, then walking on foot again for a number of miles to the 4WD and then driving back to Ramingining to make his phone call. The next day Gulpilil was on a plane and had arrived on the East Coast and was ready for his interview. The Directors couldn't believe how fast the Aboriginal Grapevine was, commenting that it was faster than the Internet.

And so the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Grapevine was created, as a dedication to the master, not only of Aboriginal Films but also of Arnhem Land and his country. For one man to be so dedicated to his art inspires me and a lot of other people that I know also. Please join us in celebrating the wonder of Australia's Oldest Living Race, and our journey's all over Australia.


  1. Yay Crocodiles! What a fantastic story, and so well written. A credit to you to have started such a wonderful creation.

  2. There are some awesome leaders out there among our people.