Homeland Story


Homeland Story is an intimate portrait of Donydji (pronounced doy-n-ji), a small Aboriginal community in North East Arnhem Land, about 800 kms east of Darwin, in the far north of Australia.

Homelands are situated on the land of the people who live there. They are of central importance to their identity and culture.

The film charts the Donydji community's transition from traditional life to the digital age, from the 1960s to the present day. 

One family is featured, across three generations, from the traditional Elder, Dhulutarama, who still knew how to make stone tools, to his grand-daughter, Joanne Yindiri Guyula, who teaches at the Donydji school.

It is a moving portrait of the family's struggle to preserve their culture and remain on their homeland despite the severe obstacles they face: sub-standard education, deplorable service delivery, lack of job opportunities for the youth, inadequate government policy, bureaucratic mismanagement and pressure from mining interests.

The film also tells the remarkable story of cross-cultural co-operation over nearly fifty years. In 1974, Neville White, a genetic anthropologist, went to Donydji to conduct research for a PhD. In effect he has never left. Spending part of each year on the Donydji homeland, he responded to the community's request to help them map their clan lands as a way of resisting the threat of mining license claims.

When education, housing and employment opportunities became the community's major concern, Neville White convinced the Rotary Club of Melbourne to fund a major building project that was undertaken by Vietnam veterans working with the young men of Donydji. Together they built the first school, new houses and a workshop where the youth could learn trade skills to prepare them for employment. Fifteen years later the partnership between Rotary, the Vets and the young men continues.

Homeland Story is a moving portrait of a resilient and determined community facing the challenges of maintaining their Donydji homeland and preserving their vibrant culture.


Note: In 1983, research undertaken by Dr Neville White in the Donydji area was documented by filmmaker Kim McKenzie for a documentary, Spear in the Stone.

About the director

Glenda Hambly is a filmmaker with two award-winning features to her credit: Fran (1985) and Waiting at the Royal (2000). She has developed, written and edited 15 television series, directed a children's series and worked as a development executive for the Australian Film Commission and Screen West. She lectures in screenwriting and has a PhD in Screen Studies.


Damien Guyula – narrator
Release dates
27 October 2019: Word premiere at Katherine, NT
31 October 2019: Australia
Video/DVD release date
May 2020
M - Mature
Ronin Films
David Bridie

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2020, Homeland Story, <>, retrieved 25 May 2024

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