BA-BOOM! Adventures in Sound!

Mobile Music Program for Youth in Remote Areas
Browsing Holiday Programs

Docker River 2015



Ba-Boom! were thrilled to be sent by the NPY Womens Council to Docker River (Kaltukutjara) for the third time in the past twelve months to deliver another exciting school holiday program.

Upon arriving in Kaltukutjara, we were warmly greeted with big smiles, nods of acknowledgement and happy dances, which made our hearts swell.

Our visit (for a whole month) enabled us to stretch out into longer-term projects as well as establish routine activities and weekly community events. These activities included rhythm classes in Nyangatjatjara College (as senior students were still in term), supporting the newly formed youth council with a T-shirt screen-printing project, large banner painting projects, kungka cooking and kungka music (for the young women), wati music and recording (for the young men), sports training and regular drumming sessions for all youth out in the wider community.

kungka music2


As it was July, our visit coincided with NAIDOC week so we garnered the support of Kaltukatjara elders to explore this years’ theme of Sacred Ground; inviting their input into the creation of a sacred ground message banner and encouraging them to come share stories and tjukurrpa at the NAIDOC barbecue which we hosted and co-ordinated with other local service providers. The intent, the artwork and the celebration were appreciated by the whole community.

In Docker River we are honoured to be working alongside Anangu youth worker, Miriam Kennedy. Miriam, delightfully amiable in community and beyond, assists us to engage as many young people as possible in our activities. We support her to co-facilitate these activities with us. We make an awesome team!

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREOur weekly cook-up and bingo fund-raising activity is always popular with youth and their families all gathering to play for a great range of prizes while enjoying delicious, hot dinners, prepared earlier by the kungkas in our cooking and beauty club. The kungkas later rock up to bingo with new hair make-overs. We raised a thousand dollars over the month to put straight back into the youth program.


The NPY Womens’ Council will be sending Ba-Boom! back to Docker River and Wingellina for the spring holidays to continue building capacity, connection and joy.

Stay tuned, as exciting things are ahead for Ba-Boom! including a new rhythm program for the Elcho Island School and a public fund-raising campaign called Million X Ten.


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School Holiday Music School


We very much enjoyed having the opportunity to prepare for our upcoming tour to Darwin by running a holiday program for the first time in Santa Teresa.

The school generously offered us a classroom to run our Ba-Boom! Holiday Music School. We set up the drums , other new and exciting instruments and a creative corner (offering colouring in, word searches and grid drawings) for the younger kids to remain engaged while we practiced the tried and true rhythms and learnt two new pieces with the older students. 

This was a great way to consolidate what the kids have learnt so far and an opportunity for those kids who haven’t had much of  a chance to play recently to get back into the groove and have a go at learning new patterns and beats. During this process we identified several younger students who displayed very promising aptitude for all of  the skills necessary to play and perform in a rhythm ensemble in the future. 

To maintain the students engagement with the school by offering three focused sessions every day proved to be very successful. We have noticed that the students’ ability to remain focused has improved enormously, with many kids staying for the full 2.5 hr sessions and some returning for every session during a day.

In addition to the classroom activities we also offered our usual holiday program activities: structured games, skills development, obstacle courses, bingo (fundraising for the tour!) lunch and oranges every day and some fun and interesting films from other indigenous communities. 

Attendance on the first day back at school was around 90%. We consider this to be a fantastic and desired outcome for a school holiday program! 


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Last summer: Ampilatwatja


Over the 2010/11 summer we were recruited by CAYLUS to spend two  months in the remote Barkly community of Ampilatawatja , about 350km north east of Alice springs. It’s on the way to Mt Isa if you take the back roads from Alice.

It was an extended stay. Previously, we would  only be assigned to do our youth development programs over just the school holiday periods in various communities of the Pitjantjatjara lands. This time, we decided to take a break from there to explore new relationships and possibilities in different country and indeed, a different indigenous nation. Shon had previously spent two weeks teaching drumming in the Ampilatwatja  school with the CAAMA M.A.D for life project in 2007, so a connection had already been established.

The opportunity of working beyond the school holiday period really appealed to us as we  were able to help make the transition to school a little easier for the kids by being there for them. We counted down the days till school started and encouraged the kids to go and grow their young minds and continue to learn new and wonderful things about our world . Then, as the school year began, we continued our drumming and general  music workshops at school and ran games and sports after school. School attendance , so far, this year has been good!

The  Alyawarra  youth are gentle and enthusiastic. During the summer holiday period, however,  we focused on providing a holistic program incorporating structured educational activities; arts and craft, reading, sport and games,  cooking and nutrition programs, fun community events, group drumming, band rehearsals and music tuition, movie nights and of course the much loved weekly disco!

We conduct each of these activities with  a structure that leads to outcomes. For instance, we made a giant compass and explored geometric design on a large piece of calico. This became a giant painted mandala in which many young people contributed their designs and painting skills. Young people are encouraged by us to follow through on projects and to try to stay focused for as long as they can. Over time, the benefits and outcomes become apparent both to the youth and the wider community, and are enjoyed and appreciated. Quiet painting time during the heat of the day proved popular. Without a youth shed as such and no air-con on searing hot summer days, this activity, set up in the shade of the basketball court, offered us time to hang out, share stories and develop our creative  minds.

Our cooking and nutrition afternoons once a week were very popular. The aim of this activity is to teach  a team of young women  and kids how to prepare healthy food for large groups of people. We cater to feed approximately 60 people for each session. We make sure that all of the ingredients are readily available  from the community store and we try to introduce new and exciting dishes (African chicken stew!) as well as teach old favourites (spaghetti bolognaise). Once the dishes are prepared, we sell the meals for a token price at our movie nights in order to buy ingredients for the next weeks’ cooking program. One day, we hope that some of these young women  with this experience may be able to gain employment cooking for the Aged and Disabled Care Centre and/or be able to cook for large family occasions.

Our drumming sessions are always popular and we would set up under a shady on the side of the oval in the late afternoons while all sorts of sport would be happening at the same time. This created  a festival atmosphere and we discovered some very talented young women who displayed a very natural aptitude for rhythm! This is unusual for us as we mostly attract young males to our drumming sessions on other communities.

All in all, we had a wonderful summer. We made some great relationships with the youth and community of Ampilatwatja  and we were very happy to return for another period only 4 weeks later. We taught rhythm in the school every day and continued our general sport and games sessions after school and into the evenings.


The enthusiasm for drumming was so great that we organized a community concert on our last Friday evening with a BBQ cook-up and disco to follow. Parents and family were invited to come and watch  the kids perform, and we had about a hundred people come to celebrate these young kids’ achievements,  enjoy home-made burgers with them and stay for a rollicking good disco!



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School Holidays with Ba-Boom!


minyma animation

Throughout the past year, during each of the school holiday periods, Ba-Boom! have dedicated their energies to returning to and working with the youth in two Pitjantjatjarra/Yankunytjatjara communities; Fregon and Indulkana.

fregon mural

As always, we rock up with our ever-expanding, trailer-full of fun. Aside from the drums, instruments, art & craft gear, books, music, movies, projector & P.A., hair & beauty and cooking kits, we have added circus gear (stilts, hula hoops, juggling balls), power tools (for making polypipe bracelets), a softball kit and a bumper-sized camp-stove for cooking over the fire on cold winter nights. No kid could possibly get bored with us.

Returning as we have to these places, the kids know us, as do their families and wider community. They cheer when they see us arrive, hang out with us and enjoy the variety, routine and surprises we offer. The deepening sense of familiarity is rewarding and we constantly find new things to make and do together.


girls making music!

In Fregon we have continued to make animations and soundtracks, we’ve painted up a fantastical aquatic mural (inspired by postcards left by a visitor from cairns country) and have actively mentored the community youth worker, which has kick-started a vibrant and operational space for youth of all ages to come and enjoy.

There is at least twice as many youth in Indulkana, and it is here that we all greatly enjoy African drumming, organized sport & games and big cook-ups. Indulkana is a very musical community. Local talent, The Iwantja Band, are building  up a national profile for their unique blend of desert reggae, blues and heavy metal styles. Band leader, Jeremy, often accompanies his father, Pastor Henry, on keyboards for weekly outdoor sermons which brings peace to the whole village at night with it’s long, warm, inclusive embrace. Indulkana kids are dynamic, energetic, interactive and lots of fun!

jamming with iwantja band

polypipe bracelets

recording drums

indulkana camp-fire cook-up

Last winter, we also got to go and work in a new place, Ali Curung, a little south of Tennant Creek. We were so warmly welcomed into this community and we had a great time doing ‘our thing’ with the new mob including organizing a big community camp-fire cook-up with malu wipu (kangaroo tail), damper, camp-fire songs, drumming and even fire-poi-twirling. We made a couple of new films, an animation and a girls’ story of country, which were enjoyed and celebrated by the kids and their families.

hula train

new experiences!

painting the scene

camp-fire sing-along

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and then, in spring…

And so, it should be added that in-between Wipeout! and the Midnight Carnivale, Shon & Svet were literally roped into the live fantasy 1950s country & western postcard that was Fake Fires, Marshmallows & Horse Stories, a special event in the High Moon Saloon program of the Alice Desert Festival where we (& a posse of cowgirls; Rose, Sabrina & Ruth) spit-polished our boots, tweaked some moustache and saddled up our ukes and geetars for some sweet harmonizing of some classic cowboy/girl campfire songs that had the whole saloon singing along to! Yippiyi-yo!cowgirls 2

In the wake of the desert festival, instead of having a hard-earned rest, Shon & Svet, along with Eddie, their soulful, operatic-guitaristic compatriot in Alice muse-seeking, who, amongst the surge of activity associated with the Desert Festival, also hatched a band by the name of The Transients which performed their premiere gig at the festival club with a less than satisfying effect, decided to go an extra mile!

the transients

Being a night of post-cabaret, post-festivalia and phenomena-of-worst-consistent-sound-mixing-at-a-festival, The Transients debut gig suffered a difficult birth due to unimaginable technical hitches on the night! The ensuing feeling of despair could only be remedied with an encore performance off our own bat, a week later, which, along with 11-hands, Shon’s Alice afro-trance drum ensemble and DJ Sveti-Boom-Boom! played for a dedicated crowd at The Lane. We all got to have our ‘day in the sun’ even though it was unseasonably cold that night on the Lane’s rooftop. Nonetheless, people were absorbed with The Transients’ tuneful appeal and the beats and crazy-gyspy-electro tunes warmed the bones of the crowd-folk, offering a perfect panacea and a fitting book-end to our Alice activities for a wee while!

dance moves

School holidays were around the corner once again, and Ba-Boom! zipped off to the communities of Fregon and Iwantja, in the southern ‘Pit’ lands for a couple of weeks. A whole range of activities were enjoyed by youth of all ages including keyboard, ukelele, drum and dance workshops, animation projects, recording, cooking, hygiene and beauty workshops. Each week was topped off with a rousing disco event where we featured films we made in the community that week, put on a big barbie and let the kids go crazy to the music and projections!

teaching keys

Following the end of that assignment, Ba-Boom! were invited to participate in Mobfest ’09, a inter-remote school festival held over 3 days at Ti-Tree school. Through a variety of exciting daily workshops, indigenous kids’ skills were expanded, encouraged and then showcased in concert form in the evenings. Fortunately, the kids from Ikuntji were invited not only participate, but especially to perform a couple more times in front of the scores of gathered school kids. They were excellent role models, performing their drum-story with pride and confidence! Ba-Boom! ran four workshops a day with all of the students from the 6 participating schools as well as co-facilitating a ‘super drum group’ which involved at least 60 kids and a lot of drums and percussion. Arranging for and conducting this ensemble was challenging but fun once we got going, and the piece we created was diverse, engaging and had an absolutely thunderous groove!




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Ntaria (hermannsburg) & Ikuntji (haasts bluff), N.T.



Ba-Boom!’s next assignment was running a winter school holiday program, over four weeks in two different communities for CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link up Service); Ntaria and Ikuntji, both west and north west of Alice Springs
on the way to palm valley

 on the way to ntaria


Ntaria is a large community and also known as Hermannsburg. We had lots of things going on in the Youth Shed but our most exciting experience was really connecting with the young male musicians. They came everyday, keen not only to play their own music but enthusiastic to learn new feels as well. We ended our stay there with a great recording and a concert and BBQ for the community.


ntaria recording session

 ntaria recording sessions


mask & instrument making

mask and percussion making





Ikuntji is a community Shon has had the pleasure to teach in before. In 2008 between April and July CAARMA produced a teaching tour through 6 different communities. 3 artists collaborated to create an exciting 2 week program for each school. Ikuntji was one of those schools!
little drummer boys

little drummer boys


eating honey ant, mmmm, exquisite

 eating honey ant..mmmm, exquisite


digging tjupi (honey ants)

 digging for tjupi (honey ants)



rhythm practice

 rhythm practice



handful of sweet treats

 handful of sweet treats


So for Ba-Boom! to return there was a wonderful thing because the kids remembered and were excited to get some fun happening! We made percussion instruments, played ukelele, learnt some great drum patterns, played keys, bass, guitar, went on bush trips for honey ants, made our first animation, ran cooking classes and fed all the kids, and had movie nights and a disco!

Ikuntj kids went on to take the ensemble rhythm we had put together on the holidays to the Alice Desert Festival 2 months later, for Wipeout, the opening event on the main stage….more about that later. . .


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