Sanctuary hosts campfire concert

Archie Roach will be performing this weekend at the Healesville Sanctuary. 118055 Picture: JESSE GRAHAM


AWARD-winning musician Archie Roach will be bringing dreamtime tunes to Healesville Sanctuary this weekend, for an evening of music at Campfire Corroboree.
Mr Roach’s concert with his band will begin at 7.15pm on Saturday 5 April at the sanctuary, with gates opening at 6pm for pre-show entertainment and animal encounters.
He will take the stage after a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony conducted by Wurundjeri Elder, Murrindindi.
Mr Roach, 58, has won world-wide acclaim for his music since beginning in 1990, communicating stories and hardships from Indigenous Australians in the past.
One of his most famous songs, Took the Children Away, won an international Human Rights Achievement Award, along with two ARIA awards.
Mail reporter Jesse Graham sat down with Archie at the sanctuary earlier this week, to have a chat about his upcoming performance.

JESSE: So how do you feel about your upcoming show at Healesville Sanctuary?
ARCHIE: I’m looking forward to it – it’s going to be good. I’ve been here a couple of times. I think this time it will be extra special (to see) how much this place has sort of grown and matured through the years. It’s going to be great.

J: I understand you grew up around the Yarra Valley?
A: First, we moved to Mount Evelyn, then to Mooroolbark. But when we were in Mount Evelyn, I went to Lilydale High School. A lot of children from Coldstream and even Healesville used to come on the bus to school, so I spent a lot of time in this area, here. Further up, when I was a boy at Eildon, at the Eildon Weir.

J: In terms of your show at the sanctuary, are you hoping that having it in a place like this will bring in some people who maybe haven’t heard too much of your music and the message behind it, and open it to a wider audience?
A: I hope so. There are a lot of people who have heard my music at concert halls and festivals around the country. I think this is ideal – I think this is where my music belongs, in places like this. So people who probably never go along to a festival or get along to the concert halls in Melbourne around the country may frequent these places, and hopefully they’ll get that exposure to my songs.

J: Some of your music focuses on the struggles of the Indigenous people in Australia – did you want to talk about the significance of having your concert here, in a place which used to be Coranderrk land?
A: This is Coranderrk – it’s known all around the country. When you mention Coranderrk, people go “oh, we’ve heard of Coranderrk.” It has such a rich history, especially with old man Barak. He was a great man in our eyes, a man to look up to – a leader. Back in those days, politically, it was important that we had a conciliator like William Barak, who could explain the culture to the European people and, well, they could embrace and hopefully appreciate it.
Later on, they (the government) closed down Coranderrk, but people worked there and they grew hops, you know. It was an amazing enterprise – the very first enterprise the Aboriginal people had, and it was successful. It’s something we should know – about how important Coranderrk was, how important this area is to not just to the Wurundejeri people but to the rest of victoria. It was here where a lot of things began.

J: What’s your proudest moment been in music?
A: There’s so many, you know? I think it was probably getting a human rights award – the very first for a songwriter – for a song I wrote about when the government took the Aboriginal children away from their families. I was proud because that song was recognised as a song that was about the human condition, about human rights. Whoever we are, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, we’re born with these rights: they’re not given to us, we’re born with these rights. So that was probably my proudest moment.

Mr Roach then met his indigenous totem – a wedge-tailed eagle named Jess.
Jess whistled at him upon sight, and his trainer, Norm Holland, explained that this was a sign of affection, and a rare one.
Mr Holland explained that he had only ever seen Jess whistle at one other human – long-term Sanctuary employee, Kevin Mason.
The encounter moved Mr Roach to tears, and he was presented with a feather from a wedge-tailed eagle by Murrindindi.
Tickets to Mr Roach’s concert on Saturday night are $69 for general seating and $110 for premium tickets, with Zoos Victoria members receiving a 10 per cent discount.
Visitors are asked to bring a small cushion and/or rug.
Umbrellas and alcohol are prohibited, but the event does allow for BYO food and beverages.
For more information on Mr Roach’s Campfire Corroboree concert this Saturday at the Healesville Sanctuary, visit or call 1300 966 784.