Writing in the Sand

Garrick, Matt

The epic story of legendary band Yothu Yindi and ‘Treaty’, the song that gave voice to a movement.


Words are easy, words are cheap / Much cheaper than our priceless land / But promises can disappear / Just like writing in the sand – From Yothu Yindi’s 1992 ARIA Song of the Year, ‘Treaty’

Sometimes a musical revolution can explode from the most unlikely of places. Long before they were ARIA Hall of Fame inductees, Yothu Yindi were a bunch of Yolngu (Aboriginal) and balanda (non-Indigenous) mates in far-north Australia jamming together for fun. Soon they were creating some of the coolest new music in the country, splicing traditional sounds with electric, and spreading a message of hope. Then, when singer Mandawuy Yunupingu penned the hit song ‘Treaty’ with Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett, and a remix dropped in 1991, Yothu Yindi shot up like a meteorite, out of Arnhem Land and into the hearts of kids across Australia and the world.

Writing in the Sand by Yothu Yindi’s authorised biographer Matt Garrick is the epic story of one of Australia’s most original bands and how ‘Treaty’ gave voice to Indigenous Australia’s hard-fought struggle for recognition.