Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains the name of someone who has passed. The family of Ningali Lawford-Wolf has given the media permission to use her name.

As the lights dim in the Drama Theatre of the Sydney Opera House, the audience is accosted by an audiovisual display projected onto the front curtain. Like something out of an immersive work by Japanese light artist Ryoji Ikeda, rapid-fire newsreel footage and statistics flash before our eyes, documenting the industrialisation of the Kimberley and the deprivations wrought upon First Nations people.


Baden Hitchcock in Bangarra’s SandSong: Stories from the Great Sandy Desert. Photo © Daniel Boud

The accompanying soundscape by composer Steve Francis recalls the voices of newscasters and stockbrokers in a cacophony that matches the visual assault. It is toxic, abrasive and a perfect representation of the effects of colonial invasion. The dust storms brought on by cattle farming were only the first of the environmental impacts caused by the plundering of Country. The waterholes – the lifeblood of the region – were poisoned as...