“My island home” came to me on a bus one night in June 1985 while traveling from Melbourne to Sydney. The antecedents are clear. I had been living in the deserts of Central Australia for some six years, estranged from the fresh water country of my youth in western Victoria. The Warumpi Band had just completed a national tour and at the conclusion of it I had spent a week with our singer George Rrurrambu, at his home at Galiwinku ( Elcho Island) in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. We were camped on a remote part of the island with his family and had been living like kings on bush tucker and sea food caught by ourselves. It seemed like paradise at the time.

I had to leave and make trips to Melbourne and Sydney in mid winter to promote the band. On the overnight bus trip to Sydney I suffered an exceptional longing to be back in a boat on a tropical sea. The words came to me, I was singing it in my head. I had no notebook with me. I held onto the tune till I got to Sydney and pulled my guitar out of the luggage to find the chords. I completed the verses with a view to George Rrurrambu singing it, which he did.

The Warumpi Band recorded “My Island Home” in 1986, released in 1987. Christine Anu released her version a decade later. The Tiddas recorded a lovely version for the film “Radiance”. George Rrurrambu has included a Gumatj language version of the song on his debut solo album ”Nerbu Message” I know that the song has also been recorded and released by a group in Tahiti.


Neil Murray