BA-BOOM! Adventures in Sound!

Mobile Music Program for Youth in Remote Areas



Rain Tree Park, Darwin.

The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers have recently completed their first ever tour. Traveling by bus up to the Top End, they performed concerts along the way in Tennant Creek, Mataranka, Katherine with several appearances in Darwin, and culminating in a fully staged, packed-house performance at the Darwin Entertainment Centre as part of the 2012 Catholic Performing Arts Festival.

Tennant Creek.

The 3000+km journey with 17 kids (aged 10-14 yrs), for 12 days & nights (an inconceivable endeavour for most teachers and adults we’ve met along the way) was a huge undertaking and positive learning experience for all.

St.Josephs College, Katherine.

The result? Widespread public and inter-school acclaim for their impressive skills, a nice kitty full of busking donations, lots of significant, first-time experiences, treats and a journey they will never forget.

Tick Park, Katherine.

They performed a total of 12 gigs: to the general public at Darwin’s groovy market places, for kids in schools, for remote area kids in parks, for a statewide ABC radio audience, at the gigantic Darwin Entertainment Centre and even before the Chief Minister!

The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers with new Cheif Minister Terry Mills and Alison Anderson.

Apart from delivering such a strong series of performances, and meeting the challenges of ‘the touring life’ these young, desert performers got to enjoy treats like fish and chips on the wharf, beach-combing, ferry-boat riding, seeing the inspiring movie The Sapphires and hours of bumper fun in Darwin’s water parks.

Leanyer Water Park, Darwin.

The tour has been successful in reaching and inspiring new audiences of all ages and is the reward for the on-going commitment of the Ltyentye Apurte School towards the Drummers’ growth as performing artists as well as the kids’ commitment to pursuing the unfolding Journey into Rhythm with instructors Shon & Svet a.k.a, Ba-Boom!

Bagot Community, Darwin.

Behind the scenes, one teacher (Michelle Dermody) one teacher-in-training (Richard Murphy) and Svet & Shon (Ba-Boom!) worked without a break from 6am to 11pm each day for 12 days straight: driving, preparing 3 meals a day plus snacks in between (the kids were incessantly hungry!), shopping for food, washing clothes and costumes, cleaning, setting & packing up camp, loading, unloading (luggage, swags, food boxes, eskis, cooking utensils and drums) creating activities, managing challenging behaviour, encouraging the kids to help, preparing the kids to perform and then watch them performing at their best and mentoring the two accompanying family members who assisted where they could.

Waking up in Mataranka.

On the long journey up and back, they slept in swags under the stars, setting up camp at a new stop each night. After all the mouths were fed, a white sheet was hung from the troopy, and a projector and P.A were set up to screen movies under the stars. This helped the kids to settle and drift in to peaceful slumber, resting their excitable little bones.

Cooling off at Bitter Springs, Mataranka.

In both Katherine and Darwin, the touring party got to enjoy the facilities and accommodation provided by other Catholic schools, while inspiring their fellow student hosts with memorable performances.

Giving a public drumming workshop, Katherine.

Naturally, there were a few unanticipated situations that created an added layer of stress for everybody. The first of these challenges was dealing with the extreme sugar and caffeine withdrawals the kids were experiencing during the first 4 days.

Refreshing Edith Falls.

Michelle, Svet and Shon made a brave decision to not buy or allow the kids to buy coke or fizzy sugar drinks, chips or lollies on the tour.

Journal writing.

This decision was made based on a strategy to manage the kids’ extreme behaviour and based upon the desire to inspire these young people to enjoy the benefits of a healthy diet for two weeks. The Drummers’ resistance was extreme to say the least, with one young person literally screaming and demanding a fizzy drink on the very first night! …yet the teachers held fast.

Out to Sea!

After 4 days of healthy sandwiches and nutritional evening meals, muesli bars, the occasional jelly snake, high fruit content low sugar cordial with soda water and plenty of fruit, the kids settled down into the flow of their detoxing bodies and their behaviour improved remarkably.

Cooling off on Mandurah Beach, Darwin.

A couple of near mis-haps found their way into the mix as well just to keep everyone on their toes!

One of these occurred during their approach into Darwin. Whilst traveling along a busy highway overpass, the brackets of the bus roof rack, holding 21 swags, collapsed and the rack landed onto the roof and slid off to one side of the bus. Fortunately, the driver remained calm and successfully guided the bus courting this hazard to the side and off the highway to solve the problem. Adding to the stress, the Drummers had a lunchtime gig to get to (their first in Darwin) and it was extremely hot and sweaty. Leaving the broken rack for a later scoop, they stuffed all of the swags into the bus with everybody else, and pushed onwards to the gig at Bagot community. Fortunately, the team generally dealt with surprising situations with a sense of calm, fortitude and humour.

Catch of the day!

Another great bonus for the whole tour project was finding an independent film-maker to come along for the ride. Leonie Van Eyck and her little girl, Jamilla, followed closely, with tape rolling, capturing emotions, events, performances, responses, and the progressive story as it was unfolding.

Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin.

This has been a groundbreaking experience for all involved. Months of preparation went into the tour and the many carefully considered details have helped to make it the resounding success that it was. The whole Santa Teresa community is proud, the far-reaching fans are proud and the young performers themselves are proud of what has been achieved. The whole touring party have learnt so much along the way and the lessons learned will help to make the next tour easier especially for the teachers and accompanying parents!

Interacting with family and fans via Ba-Boom on facebook.

Several organizations, through funding and logistical input, helped to make this tour possible: the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, CEA Alice Springs, CAYLUS, Atyenhenje-Atherre Aboriginal Corporation, the Chief  Minister for Labour NT, St. Vincent de Paul, Rotary Club of Melbourne and CAAMA Media. Thank you once again!

First sight of the sea!

Shon & Svet (Ba-Boom!) are very grateful for the great tide of support for this tour. Special thanks to Michelle Dermody, Greg Crowe and the staff of LACEC, Richard Murphy,  Leonie Van Eyck and Sam Absolom. Extra special thanks to the whole community of Santa Teresa for entrusting Ba-Boom! with the care of their young drummers and making their dream, to tour and reach new audiences, come true!

Big, warm, footy-style home-coming!


The first ever tour of The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers!


The first ever tour for The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers is almost underway after being uncertain for some time as to where the funding would come from to make this vision a reality.

So, it seems, it is possible ~ & dreams really do come true!

Hard work, committed training, good choices and some moving performances have all contributed to this tour coming to life. These young musicians are bursting with excitement as all of the many details in the planning for the journey come together.

Not only are we working hard at making our music exciting and precise by rehearsing every day, there is a big team from the school staff behind the scenes co-ordinating the logistics for 17 kids and 7 adults to travel overland over 3000km together for 13 days.

The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers will perform 9 shows in 4 towns: Tennant Creek, Mataranka, Katherine and Darwin. Along the way we will sleep in swags, camp in school halls and under the stars. We will carry with us a camp kitchen to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner on most days. Posters, signage for the tour bus, touring outfits (shirts with identifying logos), venues, media, risk management and much much more are all a part of our combined preparation for this mega-journey into rhythm!

By demonstrating their musical skills with such enthusiasm and joy, The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers have impressed the following organisations so much that they were moved to donate substantial sums of money in support of the proposed tour. We’d like to acknowledge and deeply thank the significant contributions and support from the following organisations : CAYLUS (for the new performing shirts and wonderful monetary donation),  the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Atyenhenje-Atherre Aboriginal Corporation, the Chief Minister for Labour NT, St. Vincent de Paulthe Rotary Club of Melbourne, among many other offers of financial support from affiliated groups and individuals associated with the community of Santa Teresa.

A great big thank you for your support and belief in the growing success of The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers!

Have a look at many beautiful images from the tour on our FACEBOOK page here:


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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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May: the Force is with Us!


The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers at Wide Open Spaces 2012

The first public gig for The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers in 2012 was for the NTCOSS annual conference. This also happened to be their first paid/corporate gig and the audience, who were representative of all state-wide service providers, were blown away with a very slick performance. It was wonderful for all of us to be acknowledged for the hard work that goes into such celebrated success!

Second gig for The Drummers was at the Wide Open Spaces Festival performing the honorary ‘welcome to country’ . The festival site is located at Ross River in an intimate valley in East Arrente country which is family for some of the kids are custodian for. The Arrente men from Santa Teresa also gave a ceremonial dance. Revellers from far and wide assembled to cheer and dance to The Drummers’ smooth and confident performance. Many folks commented on their finesse and remarked on the sophistication of their rhythm pieces.

David Batty, Rebel film-maker, joined us for the preparations and unfolding of the days’ events. From filming us rehearsing at school in the morning to capturing the kids’ building excitement, creating a buzz around the festival’s launch, to focusing in on the joy on their faces while they performed, David and his camera were in the epicentre of a beautiful phenomenon!

Two weeks later, The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers were rehearsing their chops for a different kind of gig altogether; The Centralian School Eistedfodd. This event requires the kids to perform their work independently, which differs from the festival gigs where we enhance the band with djembe soloing and extra percussion. The band were totally up for the challenge.

Receiving their awards!

Announcement of their win.

Performing Markaru.

One of the key dun-dun players, Angelina, took up the helm of calling the changes in the arrangement on the whistle. Not only did she nail this role, but the judges admired her leadership skill. The adjudicator was overwhelmed with emotion when she took to the microphone to express her praise for such a ‘magical’ performance. The Drummers scored a 90% total and took out the trophy for the under 14 percussion section for 2012.

Riding on the high of the days’ success, we arranged for The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers to play their full set at The Steiner School Fair the next day. Once again, from their first beat to their last, folks were captivated, stopped in their tracks, heads turned to face the music, feeling the joy and power of the kids’ deadly drumming.

Last gig of the month turned out to be for a huge Labour campaign launch party in Santa Teresa. The state minister, Paul Henderson attended this event, as well as most of the community. The kids were more nervous about playing for their families than for any other gig! But they gave an electrifying performance nonetheless.


Mr. Henderson was suitably impressed and community members remarked on hearing new beats in the arrangements. For some of the elders, it was the first time they had seen and felt the power of The Drummers. Ceremonial dances were also performed by the women and the men, heralding the importance of such a gathering. It was great having an event like this purely for bringing the community together. After all of the formalities, the speeches and sharing of food, local Santa Teresa rock bands took the night out.

The school are keen for The Drummers to go on a regional tour, playing at schools and communities along the way and culminating with a performance at The Darwin Entertainment Centre for The Catholic Schools Festival.

This is being scheduled for late August, early September with their return to Central Australia co-inciding with the opening of the 2012 Alice Desert Festival, where The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers will feature once again.

The tour is an ambitious goal for all of us and we are currently seeking to develop philanthropic relationships to make this experience possible for the kids.

If you may be able to help, please don’t hesitate to write to us at

Dallas & Stormy holding their Eistedfodd trophy!



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Time sure flies


Kintore Kungkas music video still. Check out their song and video by clicking our YouTube link.

After our stint in Lake Nash, we loaded up our trusty Toyota (Penelope Cruza) with all of the drums and we journeyed long, long ways; to our studio in Copley (in the Northern Flinders Ranges), to our old home of Melbourne and finally arriving in Tasmania on Xmas eve 2011.

The inspiration for this adventure was to embark upon a spontaneous tour, running drumming workshops anywhere, anytime, along the way.

We also took gigs to perform Ba-Boom!’s Latin Lounge Experience; featuring Svet on accordion and Shon on bongos, among other things!

Brookfield Vineyard, Margate Tasmania

It was an awesome time to be on the island, an old stomping ground, as we frequented the festivals that unfurl over the new year summer period.

The Taste of Tasmania, Cygnet Folk Festival and Mona Foma Festivals all featured great, musical artistry from local and international levels. In amongst it all, we found open stages to showcase the entertaining versatility of Ba-Boom!

Featuring our friend and special guest Ngaire on persussion!

Our gigs went down really well and we also ran a series of drumming workshops which were enthusiastically received too.

We took great pleasure in sharing stories of the hard work, challenges, achievements and rewards of our engaging with youth in the remote central desert. The feedback we received has been wide-spread, emphatic support, offering us new perspectives, and ultimately urging us into the new year 2012 with big picture vision and ambition.

As a result, we are investigating the possibilities of attracting philanthropic support to further develop our rhythm & youth development programs in remote communities.

This means lots of research, consultations, seminars, liasing, networking and putting a professional Ba-Boom! package together.

Enter, David Batty, film-maker, writer and creative force behind Rebel Films, who made the fabulous Bush Mechanics series among other great Australian films. David has offered to make a short film for Ba-Boom! on the story of The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers. This is very exciting, but before we shoot, we must work some more!

Making music with the Kintore kungkas

Bottle shakers in Ernabella

BBQ party disco, Ernabella

Over two whole months, March & April, Ba-Boom! ran their youth development/rhythm programs in Kintore, Mimili and Ernabella. We then, segued into a 2 week intensive at school in Santa Teresa.

Our last engagement with Ltyentye Apurte was six months before, at the time of the Alice Desert Festival 2011. The Drummers launched the Desert Festival with an exceptional opening performance, as part of the Generate, Youth Arts Showcase. They sustained their prowess with performances in the Boom Youth Hub program too.

We learned that The Drummers have been called upon to perform for community events and that they have risen to these challenges with finesse.

The teachers are impressed with the kids’ independence in assembling themselves, assigning a leader to call the changes and then execute a performance with confidence and relative ease.

This represents a major success for us. The fact that the kids support one another as a band and know the rhythms well enough to perform them without us, and without feeling shy, is pure gold!

Rehearsing in the horse shed.

We were also very pleased to discover that the school kids have been learning from each other all of the various elements, rhythms and arrangements of their repertoire to date.

As we embarked on our classes with everyone in school from transition class, to all the individual grade classes, we really noticed big differences in the kids’ abilities to focus and concentrate. Their desire to learn and understand more about drumming and rhythm has deepened and when it came to sometimes gruelling after-school rehearsals, they showed great commitment to the process of performance preparation.

All of these aspects so affirm our passion for the benefits of ensemble drumming for youth and enhances our commitment to furthering our journey into rhythm, co-creatively with the valuable support of the Ltyentye Apurte Catholic Education Centre (LACEC).

We extend our sincerest gratitude to Greg Crowe, the school principal and to the wonderful, one of a kind, teacher of life, Michelle Dermody, who put in plenty of extra curricular time and energy into supporting the kids to feel success and gain acknowledgement and appreciation for their musical skills.

These kids are achieving excellence.

This is a good story.

Australia needs to know about it!

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gone fishing! alpurrurulum




For six weeks over November and December, Ba-Boom! were delighted to be situated out at Lake Nash in Arlpurrurulam community, east of The Barkly and very close to the QLD border.


The local culture out at Arlpurrurulam is enriched by it’s situation close to the flowing Georgina River and in the increasingly hot pre-monsoonal days, the kids would love to go swimming and fishing. Cooking up fresh fish & chips by the riverside with the young women and elders was a real treat and novelty for us and we would also play music and games on our excursions out there.  


We were alerted to the danger for dogs down at the river early on when our little Mieka swallowed a scrap of rotten meat which happened to have a fish-hook embedded in it prompting us on an emergency dash to the vet in Mt. Isa. Fortunately it eventually passed through without any complications, which was a terrific relief for us and quite a miracle!


We had the pleasure of working with a enthusiastic team of local youth workers and very supportive community service providers. Our featured art projects included painting two large calico banners. One was a beautiful mandala which many kids helped to create over the weeks and the other we all decided would be a community unity message “I am more than just me, I am my community”. We also started an animation story and decorated the Shire offices with lots of xmas decorations.


It was the time of year when the store put on it’s annual xmas party featuring Santa and xmas present giving, an interstate country band, a big community feast of roasted meats, salads, drinks, fresh fruit, cake and ice cream to boot! We hosted a big long evening of crazy games on the basketball court opposite the shop: pinata smashing (which we made and decorated together and filled with lollies), sack races, three-legged races, tunnel ball and the ever popular busta-balloon. A great time was had by all! 


We gave drumming & rhythm classes to all the students of Arpurrurulam School regularly over the six weeks which was most enjoyed, being a new experience for all. Other regular activities included basketball competitions, bingo night, cooking, disco and movie nights. The kids at Arpurrurulam also enjoyed skate-boarding and the older boys and young men had a blast playing on the new band instruments and equipment, rehearsing their music for concert nights.







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They made the news this week!

Check out this video story by CAAMA here:




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The Beat Goes On: Ltyentye Apurte Drummers!


Welcome to Country

It was with great anticipation that we commenced our rhythm program at Ltyentye Apurte Catholic School again this year. This time our program was integrated into the curriculum of term 2 as we taught all of the kids for two full days per week for 11 weeks. After four weeks we had a select group ready to perform at the Wide Open Spaces Festival 2011. Given that many of these kids’ families originate from this eastern Arrente region, it was an honour to offer their opening performance as a ‘welcome to country’ and how warmly received this welcome was to a memorable festival weekend for many.


Returning the following week to the high spirits of the success of that gig (and excursion, almost a 400km return journey), we focused our next goal, for four weeks later, on performing in the 2011 Centralian Eistedfodd at the Araluen Theatre. This was to be a new experience for us all, never before having attended, let alone entered an inter-school performance ‘competition’. We seriously took on the challenge, determined to knock peoples’ socks off with the power of the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers’ sound!


The kids worked hard every class, every week, during and after school, and dedicated themselves to the goal of performing their pieces unassisted, with Shon’s ‘lead drummer’ role handed over to the group to execute themselves, as she took up conducting and Svet took a back seat in the shakers & bells section. We had two entries: one in the under 12 percussion section and the other in the open percussion section, although all 18 band members were between the ages of 10-12. The atmosphere was very formal and unfamiliar however, the kids respectfully observed the protocol and went on to deliver their performances with confidence and style. The judges happily awarded the group first prize in the open section and commended them on their strong sense of beat and entertaining presentation. They judges also expressed their appreciation for the appearance of more ‘exotic’ percussion ensembles in the Eistedfodd!

Djun Djun power

Rokiah, band leader

The restraint shown in the auditorium was relaxed in the back-stage dressing rooms with the glamorous festooned mirror lighting dazzling and exciting the kids. They could play at being stars, which in our eyes and in those of their teachers, parents and community, they really were. Many of the drummers will perform in the dance category at the same venue next week, affording us another opportunity to get the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers out for a couple more public performances in Alice Springs, while we’re still hot!

Backstage Araluen Theatre

Eistedfodd band

Every week when we drive back to Alice from Santa Teresa, we are thoroughly exhilarated and exhausted from the passion and intensity of the kids’ enjoyment of ensemble drumming with us. They have all come so far in their understanding of playing these African instruments well and are able to enjoy playing well

together. We are so grateful for having this opportunity to develop these skills in these young people and to receive so much wonderful testimony from the teachers on what positive changes they have been able to observe in them along the way.

Making their drums sing

Many great possibilities exist as to where to go next. We still dream of taking the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers to The Dreaming Festival however, they were severely affected by the QLD floods earlier this year and have had to forgo their planned festival for 2011. Other sights are set on securing festival appearances in Darwin, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney.. anywhere! To get there however, will take funding and support, and that’s what we will be looking at generating in the meantime.

Warming up

Eisteddfod show-time


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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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Dreaming down the track…


Having had an absolutely eventful year to date, (and it’s only september!) we are currently ‘dreaming up’ ways to take the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers to Australia’s largest indigenous culture festival, The Dreaming Festival in Woodford, QLD in 2011. Our drummers have shown themselves to be committed and professional and deserve to have their performances celebrated by wider audiences across the country and indeed, the world.

To get to The Dreaming Festival will take a lot of fundraising to transport the kids and their support to and from Alice Springs. If you can suggest any ways to support with this mission we would love to hear from you.

dreaming, dreaming…

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