Reading List

Schwarz, Janien, Beyond Familiar Territory: De-centring the Centre

(an analysis of visual strategies in the art of Robert Smithson, Alfredo Jaar and the Bark Petitions of Yirrkala), Canberra: ANU Institute of Arts, Canberra School of Art, 1999. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Online at:
Schwarz makes a preliminary attempt to “employ an iconographic analysis to connect the designs on the 1963 petitions with people and places”, based on the analyses of the artwork on the petitions by Jeremy Long and Howard Morphy.

Morphy, Howard, Becoming Art: Exploring Cross-Cultural Categories

Sydney, N.S.W. : University of New South Wales Press Ltd, c2008.
Presents a history of Yolngu art from the perspective of Yolngu artists, and their engagement with the world of fine art, and analyses  the cultural and social contexts that surround the production of Aboriginal art. Discusses the Yirrkala Bark Petitions p. 66-67
ISBN: 9781921410123
AIATSIS call number: B M871.42/B1

Morphy, Howard, Now You Understand : an Analysis of the Way Yolngu Have Used Sacred Knowledge to Retain Their Autonomyin  Peterson, N.  Langton, M. , Aborigines , Land and Land Rights

Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies , 1983, p. 110-133
Discusses the relationship between paintings and the land in Yolngu society. Mentions clan designs.
ISBN: 0855751452
AIATSIS call number: B P485.44/A2

Wells, Edgar, The Bark Petition: Tis Mystery All in Proceedings of the Uniting Church Historical Society

Victoria, Vol. 3 No. 2, 1996, p. 11-23
In Reward and Punishment in Arnhem Land Edgar Wells states that up to five bark petitions will be made.  In this article, published posthumously, he confirms that four bark petitions were made, two ended up being presented to Parliament. 

Yirrkala leases challenged, Smoke Signals , Vol. 2, No. 4,1963, p. 2-5

On 23 July 1963 YIrrkala men and women wrote to Mr Gordon Bryant MP, and Vice President of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement, outlining their concerns over the proposed mining in the Yirrkala area and requesting help to oppose the mining applications.  This article reproduces the text of the letter, written in both Yolngu Matha and English and signed by the same signatories to the bark petition.  This was just a few days after his visit with Mr Kim Beazley to Yirrkala.
AIATSIS call number: S 21/2

Clark, Jennifer,  Aborigines & activism : race, Aborigines & the coming of the sixties to Australia

Crawley, W.A. : UWA Press, 2008, p. 93-121
Chapter 5,  Facing the "wind of change" at Yirrkala in 1963, discusses how when the Methodist Overseas Mission and the Government failed to protect Yolngu interests with the proposed bauxite mining at Yirrkala, Yolngu took action into their own hands
ISBN: 9780980296570 (pbk.)
AIATSIS call number: B C593.51/A1

Kim E. Beazley, Father of the House : the Memoirs of Kim E. Beazley

with annotations by Kim C. Beazley and John Bond. North Fremantle, W.A. : Fremantle Press, 2009.
Autobiography by Kim Beazley Senior, who was committed during his parliamentary career to education for all and Indigenous rights, including land rights. He was appointed Labor spokesman on Aboriginal Affairs in 1960 and toured Australia with the members of the Select Committee for Voting Rights for Aborigines in 1961 speaking directly with Aboriginal people. His meeting with Aboriginal Elders at Yirrkala with Gordon Bryant in 1963 resulted in the Bark Petition which protested the effects of mining of bauxite in the area. Kim Beazley Senior was instrumental in setting up the Yirrkala Grievances Committee. He had also supported the call for a referendum to change the constitution since 1949
ISBN: 9781921361425
AIATSIS Call No: B B386.81/F1

Fenwick, Julie,  'Worrying about our land' : conceptualising land rights 1963-1971

, Clayton, Vic. : Department of History, Monash University, 2001
Series: (Monash publications in history,ISSN0818-0032 ; 36)
Examines the emergence of the concept of Aboriginal land rights between 1963 and 1971, in the context of the Yolngu petition and campaign against bauxite mining on Gove Peninsula; relationship with
non-Aboriginal people. Discusses use of land and the concept of land ownership.
ISBN: 0732621615
AIATSIS call number: p FEN

Yunupingu, Galarrwuy: S 37.7/10
We know these things to be true: the third Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture: 20 August 1998 in
Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues

Vol. 1, No. 4 (Dec. 1998), p. 4-17
Discusses the struggle for Indigenous rights over the last thirty years, with a focus on Yolngu law and
country. Describes the Elders anger and sadness at having their special places destroyed by mining.
AIATSIS Call No. S 37.7/10

Melanie Wilkinson, R. Marika and Nancy M. Williams, "This place already has a name"  in Aboriginal place names : naming and re-naming the Australian landscape

edited by Harold Koch and Luise Hercus, Canberra : ANU E Press, c2009. Aboriginal History Monograph Series 19
Online at

Williams, Nancy M.,The Yolngu and their land : a system of land tenure and the fight for its recognition

Canberra : Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies , 1986
AIATSIS call number: B W725.48/Y1 and  06.1/AIAS/7W

Personal Author: Wells, Ann E. (Ann Elizabeth)
This Their Dreaming : legends of the panels of  Aboriginal art in the Yirrkala church, [St. Lucia]:University of Queensland 1971

AIATSIS call number: B W453.13/T2