Northern Lights


Aboriginal football legends, Andrew McLeod and Michael Long, are at the centre of this lively and engaging portrait of NT Thunder, a new AFL team with 60% Aboriginal players, and a bold new strategy for community engagement.

Northern Lights gives us remarkable “behind the scenes” access to the rapid emergence of NT Thunder since its creation in 2009 as a senior AFL team based in Darwin and representing the Northern Territory. Many of its team members travel thousands of kilometres every week from areas as distant as Bathurst Island, Alice Springs, Nhulunbuy, Jabiru and Katherine.

The brainchild of footballer Michael Long who used his high profile and influence to attract funding for the concept of a new pathway for talented Aboriginal players to reach their potential in the national AFL, whilst simultaneously promoting education, health and general well-being. The strict rule applying to all team members is that they must be either working or studying. There are no exceptions. Even a player who is vital to the team’s finals’ success, who leaves his job will be promptly dropped from the team.

In the course of the NT Thunder’s emergence, we gain insights into many team members, especially Carlos Burarrawanga from the community of Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island. The son of the late George Burarrawanga, the enigmatic lead singer of the Warumpi Band, Carlos sees his entry into the Thunder as a responsibility to serve as a role model for young men in his community.

This is a “warts and all” story of positive outcomes, about a brotherhood that refuses to be stopped, despite difficulties and challenges along the way: a brotherhood where black and white Australia are one.


Colin Friels - narrator
Release dates
2013 - Australia
Video/DVD release date
September 2013
PG - Parental guidance
Ronin Films
Antony Partos and David McCormack

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Harvard citation

Korff, J 2018, Northern Lights, <>, retrieved 16 May 2021

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