Songlines On Screen


Songlines on Screen is a special collaboration between Screen Australia and NITV that presents 10 short films from the remote regions of Western, Northern and Central Australia. These films represent Aboriginal people's ongoing connection to land and culture as told throughout time by the way of creation songs.


Tjawa Tjawa

The Tjawa Tjawa songline follows a group of women in search of husbands. Travelling from Roebourne all the way to Kiwikurra in the Great Sandy Desert to the south of Balgo. It is a long journey with many stories along the way about how the women came to their end, only to come alive again and continue to travel the lands. (Running time: 12 minutes)


Footprints is set in 2014 and a group of young Aboriginal men from a tribe on the verge of losing their songlines have just discovered that a law boss from a neighbouring tribe knows some of their cultural songs and dances. They have not been performed for more than fifty years and it was thought they had been lost forever. The songs and dances were given to the men’s tribe, the Djugun tribe, by their creator during the Buguragarri (the Dreamtime). (Running time: 10 minutes)

Damari & Guyala

Before the white man arrived, two brothers – Damari and Guyala – made their way down the east coast of Australia. They came seeking shelter and good after a long journey from the north and made a stopover near the land of the Mandingalbay Yidinji tribe of the Cairns area. This story of betrayal, lies and loyalty is told in the language of Mandingalbay Yidinji elder David Mundraby. (Running time: 10 minutes)

Bulunu Milkarri

Bulunu Milkarri is a film about one woman's journey to learn an endangered songline from remote Arnhem Land that explores the cycles of death, life, rain, tears, and the replenishment and abundance of land, sea and spirit, and the quest to ensure this ancient songline is practiced for generations to come. (Running time: 25 minutes)


Goorrandalng is a song and a story. The Goorrandalng song is about brolgas. It's from Granny Sheba Dignari's mother and is sung all the time for country, keeping it strong. Goorrandalng is also the name of the dreaming place, at Keep River National Park in the Northern Territory, where women can go to become pregnant. In the Goorrandalng dreamtime story, women went to the special place and turned into brolgas. (Running time: 10 minutes)


Naji is a story from the Bugarregarre time, the Dreaming. The spirit beings came out of the ocean and woke up the silent, barren land as they moved from Dabberdabbergun in the west to the land of the rising sun, creating life and, importantly, water as they travel. This creation story comes to life through the use of re-enactments as Richard Hunter, an elder of the Goolarabooloo people, recounts the steps of his first people. (Running time: 9 minutes)


In Wurray, Yolngu song men trace the epic Dreaming story of their great nomadic warrior, Wurray, across the wilderness of north-east Arnhem Land. (Running time: 12 minutes)

Ngapa Jukurrpa: Water Dreaming

The Ngapa Jukurrpa is a series of rain creation songs that travel across Central Australia. The Ngapa spirit gathers as cloud and is a warrior, building strength. It moves west across the Ngalikirlangu landforms and into the Tanami Desert. It passes over the water dreaming site of Juka Juka where Warlpiri rain makers perform using pearl shells from Broome. After a long journey, the story keeps heading north to Arnhem Land. (Running time: 22 minutes)

Desert Dingo

Five senior Alywarre lawmen journey from their community of Ali Curung (Land of the Dogs) across 450kms of semi-arid plane and range country to perform ceremonies at three significant sites where the narrative of an important Dingo songline plays out. (Running time: 26 minutes)


Wardbukkarra tells a creation story from the Bininj people of Western Arnhem Land about the creation of the first people and the battle between good and evil resulting in the songs and stories handed down today. (Running time: 12 minutes)

What are songlines?

'Songlines are a library of information,' says Cornel Ozies, who directed the Songlines on Screen film Footprints. 'They are many things: a road map, a bible, our history. The examples and stories in songlines guide the way we live and give us our unique cultural identities.

'But our culture and history is an oral one and if it is not talked about it is forgotten. In order for our culture to survive it must move from oral to documented. To record these songlines to film is a natural progression. We must use any devices at our disposal to keep our traditions alive.

'The songs that the old people sing and pass along, they are about the country and the sacred places where songs belong.'

Songlines are a library of information. They are many things: a road map, a bible, our history.

— Cornel Ozies, director of Footprints


Release dates
2015 - Australia
PG - Parental guidance
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Korff, J 2018, Songlines On Screen, <>, retrieved 30 May 2024

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