Crossing Roper Bar


Extraordinary tour crosses all boundaries

Roper Bar is the point in the Roper River that makes it possible to cross into the remote NT town of Ngukurr. For months during the wet season it is impossible to cross. This is the inspiration for an extraordinary performance piece titled ‘Crossing Roper Bar’

 Touring October 11th – 29th  2013

Crossing Roper Bar is a tour and celebration of an extraordinary collaboration between the Young Wagilak Group from Ngukurr in East Arnhem Land, legendary Kimberley singer/songwriter Stephen Pigram and the Australian Art Orchestra [AAO], led by internationally acclaimed musician and artistic director, Paul Grabowsky.

Originally initiated in 2004/05 by Paul Grabowsky and featuring the late great Ruby Hunter, this newly evolved version will showcase the ongoing collaboration between the AAO and Ngukurr musicians whilst integrating the gritty-honey like vocals of highly acclaimed indigenous musician Stephen Pigram.

The ‘song men’ of Ngukurr have worked closely with AAO Musical Director, Paul Grabowsky to create a contemporary rendering of their ancient songs, which simultaneously preserves their rare cultural artifacts and creates a dazzling new musical hybrid acclaimed for its haunting melodies, cultural sensitivity and sheer musical virtuosity. The collaboration is an evolving process that is affected by the unique experiences the touring group has with each local community they visit, making every performance special and unique.

Some of Australia’s most stunning locations, including spectacular parts of the Northern Territory and the stunning coastal vista of Roebuck Bay in Western Australia will be the backdrop to a series of special outdoor performances. The tour also includes public concerts, workshops, community collaborations, artist talks and school presentations.

“Crossing Roper Bar is
nothing less than a
collaborative and
artistic triumph. Seldom
do Indigenous holders of a
genuine musical tradition,
and one that continues to be performed at home in ceremonies, find ways to explore their talents with such dedicated fellow artists, and share the beauty of their songs and dances with new audiences. This alone is an achievement…” says Dr. Aaron Corn, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

An electrifying marriage of the very old with the very new, Crossing Roper Bar Tour 2013 is a celebration of country, of ceremony, and of the power of music to build enduring bridges across cultures, time and space.

Images for reproduction and image galleries available here: 


Touring October 11 ­ 29th :  Premieres in Darwin on October 11th in the stunning Supreme Court Building, then travels to WA for a concert at Ivanhoe Farms, Kununurra on Oct 13th, onto Moonlight Bay Suites in Broome for a special Full Moon concert on Oct 20th, for school and community workshops and concerts in Djarindjini/Lomadina, One Arm Point, BeagleBay and Roebourne, a concert at sunset at the beautiful Hearson’s Cove, Karratha on Friday Oct 25th, then Novotel Ningaloo Resort, Exmouth on Oct 27th and concludes on October 29th at Perth¹s State Theatre Centre. For more details and bookings go to:



Reviews from the original tour in 2008

An intense moving musical experience. The Australian Newspaper


The music is totally absorbing, at once solemn and energetic, reflective and frenetic. The Australian Newspaper


Fusing orchestral and indigenous music was an extraordinary experiment by the legendary jazz man Paul Grabowsky… It’s been a night of surprises, and at times, moving intensity…. For everyone involved, the collaboration has been, and will continue to be, a deeply profound experience.  The West Weekend Magazine, August 30 2008

Crossing Roper Bar was a concert of extremes, of past, present and future coming together, at times confronting, at others soothing, but somehow it all seemed to work. The result was a sizzling, sparkling synergy borne of mutual intent, talent and vision…  Interspersed with songs from Hunter and instrumental pieces from the musicians of the AAO, the manikay continued in an incredible fusion of voice, sticks, didgeridoo and dance that invaded the senses of the audience.  Xpress Magazine, August 11 2008

At its heart is a dynamic exchange of ideas between cultural traditions, ancient and contemporary, and a thrilling example of the transformative power of music, which crosses all boundaries.  Out Magazine, August 2008


Crossing Roper Bar is nothing less than a collaborative ad artistic triumph….  [it] is a work of rare integrity in Australia that sets an exciting new benchmark for artistic dialogues with traditional Indigenous musicians. Dr Aaron Corn, ‘Crossing Roper Bar, To begin all collaborations …’, Resonate

Tura’s initiatives, especially the regional programs taking new music to new communities, continue to capture the national imagination.  Western Suburbs Weekly, July 29 2008