Yolngu Boy Analytical Essays

Yolngu Boy
Directed byStephen Johnson
Produced by

Patricia Edgar
M. Yunupingu
Galarrwuy Yunupingu

Gordon Glenn
Written byChris Anastassiades
StarringSean Mununggurr, John Sebastian Pilakui, Nathan Daniels
Music byMark Ovenden
CinematographyBrad Shield
Edited byKen Sallows

Release date

22 March 2001 (2001-03-22)

Running time

85 minutes
Box office$645,700

Yolngu Boy is a 2001 Australiancoming-of-age film that follows three Yolngu teenagers as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood.


After being been initiated together and growing up together, troubled natural born leader Botj (Sean Mununggurr), conservative and traditionalist Lorrpu (John Sebastian) and football loving ladies man Milika (Nathan Daniels) are transitioning from childhood to adulthood.

Botj, who has recently been released from prison, decides to break into the local store to get cigarettes and he convinces Lorrpu and Milika to join him. Lorrpu and Milika decide to return home, but Botj remains and gets high by sniffing petrol. He makes his way to the Community Centre, where he lights a smoke, but as he does this, the petrol ignites and the building is burnt down. Determined to help Botj avoid imprisonment, Lorrpu and Milika trek with him from their home in north-eastern Arnhem Land to Darwin to plead his case before Dawu (Nungki Yunupingu), a Yolngu elder.

In Darwin, Lorrpu tries to convince Dawu that Botj is rehabilitated, but Dawu does not believe him. Botj fears he may be turned over to the police, so he leaves the group and attempts to find his father. When he finds his father, his father is so intoxicated that he is unable to recognize Botj. Following this, Botj turns to sniffing petrol once again and while under its effects, he falls to his death from a bridge. His body is discovered by Lorrpu and Milika later that day.

Lorrpu and Milika return to their original home and their old lives. For Lorrpu, the journey has been a rite of passage, and through it he has been able to gain the acceptance of his elders.[1][2][3][4]


  • John Sebastian Pilakui - Lorrpu
  • Sean Mununggurr - Botj
  • Nathan Daniels - Milika
  • Lirrina Mununggur - Yuwan
  • Makuma Yunupingu - Matjala
  • Nungki Yunupingu - Dawu
  • Mangatjay Yunupingu - Maralitja Man
  • Gurkula (Jack Thompson) - Policeman
  • Gerard Buyan Garrawurra - Lunginy[5]

Production history[edit]

Sean Mununggurr is from Gapuwiyak in Eastern Arnhem Land and is a Gumatj dialect speaker, while John Sebastian Pilakui (Sebbie) and Nathan Daniels both hail from Bathurst Island in the Tiwi Islands. For all three, English is their second language, and all three were fifteen years old at the time of filming.[6][7]

The film was mainly shot in Yirrkala over the course of seven weeks, beginning on 20 September 1999 and ending on 5 November 1999.[6][7]

The scene where Botj, Lorrpu and Milika climb down a cliff overlooking a waterhole to go for a swim was filmed at Lightning Dreaming at Twin Falls on the edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment. It took months of negotiations with local elders to arrange permission to film at this site.[6][7]

Box office[edit]

Yolngu Boy grossed $645,700 at the box office in Australia.[8]


  1. Kakadu - M.Yunupingu
  2. Neva Mend - Nokturnl
  3. Black Bugs - Regurgitator
  4. Gapu - Yothu Yindi
  5. Poisonous Love/Ghost Spirit - Yothu Yindi
  6. Treaty - Yothu Yindi
  7. Surrender - Songlines Music Aboriginal Corporation
  8. Farewell - Garmadi Community, Co-Ordinated by Laura Naborhiborhl


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Yolngu Boy: The Story Of Three Adolescents

Yolngu Boy is a traditional film which explicitly tells the story about three adolescents, Lorrpu, Milika and Botj. (Johnson, S 2001)The film indicates the obstacles that adolescents would face, such as the peer pressure, the quest of the identities, and conflicts with each others. However, three of them had a same dream which is to become the great hunters. ( Villella, F.A 2001) However, dream is hard to attain. As Botj has just came back from the six months detention as he stole a motorbike. Milika is aspiring in Australia football and interested in girls, fame and cars. Unlike Milika and Botj, Lorrpu is the only one who appreciates and devotes the traditional culture of aboriginal and determinates to become the great hunter(Klindo, M 2001). Although the three main characters are not skilled in the ancient Aboriginal knowledge, they try to make canoe and hunt the prey together to strengthen their friendship and traditional culture during the journey to Darwin. Firstly, this essay will grope the friendship among three of them. Secondly, it will discuss how they connect to the culture.
Initially, their friendship was, but as time has changed and the good days are gone, their friendship is being tested. Each of them is facing different challenges. For instance, Botj has gone to jail as he lost his way in aboriginal and contemporary cultures and violated both cultures’ law. Thus, the community has acknowledged that he is the ‘trouble maker’; especially the elders have given up on him(Villella, F.A 2001). Nevertheless, Lorrpu and Milika haven’t given up on Botj, when he is going back to the prison for the latest crime, Lorrpu convinced Milika and Botj to go to Darwin to find their Aboriginal leader, Dawu, who can save and allow Botj to stay in the community(Yolngu Boy Education 2000). Even though, they have loads of conflicts with each other when they get lost after the canoe turned over, they still draw on a combination to help each others, after they argued(Australian Consulate-General 2001). They work together when they get lost in the forest as they realized that they can’t get out from the forest individually. Hence they make tools and hunt prey together. When they hunt a sea turtle successfully, they were extremely excited and formed a circle to sing songs and dance. Constantly, their friendship rebuilds. Meanwhile, the way they used to survive when they encounter the lands which lead them to reconnect to their culture.
On the way to Darwin, the connection between the land and the boys start as they resorted to their ancient cultural practices of hunting and gathering that they learnt as children in order to survive(the Australian children’s television 2000). They face starvation and thirsty, while Botj’s injured arm was getting worst. Lorrpu painted himself as the ancestral beings and hunt the lizard with a spear. Also, he walks like the lizard, and that is what he has learnt since a child. ‘When our old people walk on the...

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