The sounds of the didjeridu to echo through Queensland Museum’s new exhibition

29 November 2019

Queensland Museum’s new exhibition will change the way visitors view Australia’s most iconic musical instrument, yidaki (didjeridu) and Australian Aboriginal culture.

The exhibition, Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia, opening Saturday 30 November, is an immersive experience, which not only allows you to look at various didjeridus, but hear and feel the sound as well as be transported to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory – home of the Yolngu people and yidaki master Djalu Gurruwiwi.

Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said the didjeridu is thousands of years old and synonymous with the Aboriginal culture, and it’s an honour to be able to share the story of Yidaki with visitors.

“The exhibition will give visitors the chance to learn and experience what the yidaki means to the Yolngu people as well as gain an insight into their culture, which Gurruwiwi and his family have generously shared,” Dr Thompson said.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the exhibition offered an opportunity to learn about the importance of Yidaki and what it means to many First Nations Peoples.

“For many traditional owner groups it is not simply a musical instrument, but also a cultural and spiritual instrument that tells the stories about its people – past, present and future,” Ms Enoch said.

“I hope visitors who come to see this exhibition can walk away with a greater understanding of its significance.”

For the Yolngu people of north-eastern Arnhem Land, yidaki is the living breath of their cultural traditions. Set amongst the rugged coastline in the Northern Territory, Yidaki tells the story of its origins and illustrates the importance of the instrument in Aboriginal life and culture.

Amongst the Yolngu, Djalu Gurruwiwi is the senior and universally recognised authority on the musical and spiritual traditions of yidaki in the exhibition. Through innovative audio-visuals, Djalu and his family guide you through the exhibition space.

The Yolngu explain the power, traditional meaning and cultural significance, enlightening the specific cultural and musical origins of this renowned Australian instrument. Yidaki tells the story from the creation of the instrument and its diversity of forms, through to its role in ceremony.

This exhibition brings the instrument to life through an environment of evocative sound, story, moving images and treasured objects amongst the stringybark forests of Arnhem Land.

Yidaki (pronounced yid-arr-key) is produced by the South Australian Museum with close collaboration with Yolngu Elder Djalu Gurrawiwi and his family.

Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia is a FREE exhibition, located on Level 2 at Queensland Museum, and opens on Saturday 30 November 2019 until 29 March 2020.