North Queensland Aboriginal community Yarrabah in global spotlight
But Blue Wiggle Anthony Field said it was the children’s music supergroup that left richer for the experience.
“We learnt so much today about the Gunggandji People,” Field said.
“We’ll remember this more than any entertainment centre gig. It’s been an enriching experience for us.”
The Wiggles were in Yarrabah to record for the Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle television series, which will shine a global spotlight on the remote far north community.
“The television show that we do is on in 190 countries around the world, and I hope every one of those 190 countries that are watching learn as much as we did today about this beautiful culture up here — their music, their dance and the people,” Field said.
“We wanted to include our Australian culture, and I think today was an amazing educational experience for everyone who watches that show. They’ll enjoy it, but also learn something.”
The Wiggles like you’ve never heard before
The Wiggles recorded a version of their lullaby Rock-a-bye Your Bear in the Gunggandji language, accompanied by children, local elder Uncle Daniel Murgha, Indigenous singer/songwriter Elverina Johnson, and Yarrabah State School culture teacher Nathan Schrieber.
“The funny thing is, our language, we didn’t mean it to match perfectly, but it almost fits rhythmically exactly the same, the syllables of the words,” Mr Schrieber said.
“It’s amazing how these two separate languages and separate cultures have come together so well. Music is universal.”
Field said it was a privilege to share the Gunggandji language with the world.
“Language is what it’s all about. [It] defines people, it’s what they have in common, it’s unique, it’s beautiful sounding,” he said.
“Musically, it was so lovely to hear.”
The power of music
Yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins said she was touched by the Yarrabah reception and overwhelmed by how well the local children knew The Wiggles’ back catalogue.
“The music seems to reach all ends of Australia. Even this morning we had the preps to twos and they were all singing along [to] Hot Potato and Fruit Salad and Rock-a-bye Your Bear,” she said.
“It’s amazing that the music has transcended all the way out here. We’ve never been here before.”
Mr Schrieber said while The Wiggles’ visit was a day of excitement for the students, there would be long-term benefits.
“The job that [The Wiggles] do working with kids fits in so well with what we’re doing here at our school, trying to inspire them, teach them, encourage them that they can go places,” he said.