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MP3 Chris Robinson - When the Sky Fell Down

The Daily Telegraph (Australia) described this work (in 1997) as a "Musical Key to History". Its a Rock Musical of 21 songs (and two extra tracks) which sold as an Educational Resource Kit for schools in the nineties. This is the REMIX for use in an Int

23 MP3 Songs in this album (70:11) !
Related styles: ROCK: Rock opera, WORLD: Aboriginal

People who are interested in Andrew Lloyd Webber Peter Gabriel should consider this download.

The folowing text was copied from the official website:

Background Story Information
Ask Yourself...
What is Australia Day, Invasion Day, Survival Day, 26th January, 1788, and the years just before and after?

What happened between Aboriginal and European people in the first few years of Australia''s colonisation?

Who lived in Australia and what did they think of Captain Cook, then Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet?

What did Captain Cook do when claiming Australia in 1770?

What did Joseph Banks say about the Natives to the planning committee?

What Aboriginal countries existed in the Sydney region? How were they different?

What did the King''s orders have to do with the first kidnappings?

What was the real story about the disease introduced to Australia in 1789?

Why do most Australians not know about the first trade and the first war between the British and the Kooris in the 1790''s? What was it like when Europeans were the minority?

Is our true history relevant to any current Australian racial issues?

The King''s orders to Arthur Phillip. The arrival of the First Fleet into Aboriginal lands.

The kidnapping of Arabanoo and the smallpox epidemic.

Bennelong''s story - his capture, escape, and the spearing of Arthur Phillip.

The first trade between societies, then Australia''s first war involving Pemulwuy.

The conclusion of the musical story, brings the subject of Australia''s indigenous peoples and the law, to the present day and issues for the future. All Australians need to know this story.

The musical and resource kit was endorsed by ministers for education of both main political persuasions, was a collaborative project with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, NSW inc, and won state finalist in the Youth category in the 1997 National Reconciliation Convention in Canberra.

Use of the musical was documented by the NSW state government in the video 1996 video "Nothing''s Going to Stop Our Dream", supplied to all state schools. It began as a bi-centennial musical written by Chris Robinson and first performed by Wyong School children in 1988.

Key Benefits
Cross-curriculum education: HSIE, Music, History, Literature
Aboriginal and European perspectives
Endorsed by State Education Departments, and produced collaboratively with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group
Recorded with some of Sydney''s leading musical talent including John Bettison, Peter Northcote, Charles Hull, Martine Monroe, John Pryor and more. Performed with Aboriginal communities around Australia
License included with full version, for schools to perform the show for profit

THIS CD IS A PRE-RELEASE to help fun the new interactive program file in 2008


The following is some text extracted from the accompanying Story and Song Book (from the kit) now being included into the Interactive Program being made by the author - where the old printed kit will function as an interactive learning program - availabe soon. Editing by NIgel Parbury - author of Survival - A History of Aboriginal Australia. This text gives an insight into the nature of how much is covered by the program and the musical.

Extract from 1788 The Great South Land Educational Resource under reconstruction.

WHEN THE SKY FELL DOWN - the Rock Musical

After Captain Cook

The visit from Captain Cook in 1770 began stories amongst Aboriginal people. The stories spread to different Aboriginal nations through various trade routes around Australia. Such visits were explained in the spiritual way of Aboriginal people.

What do we do?

There was competition for basic human living needs. A huge gap had developed between the wealthy landowners and factory owners and the growing number of struggling working class people.

Terra Nullius

In 1770 Captain Cook had ‘discovered'' the east coast of Australia. He declared it to be terra nullius, which means ‘land belonging to no-one’, and on that basis claimed it all for England.
Things to civilise them
Aboriginal people were angered when their ‘guests’ chopped down trees and failed to share their large fish catches. They avoided the ‘settlement’ entirely.
The kidnapping of Arabanoo was Phillip''s first attempt to ‘civilise them’.
The second attempt was when Bennelong and Colby were captured, after Arabanoo had died in the smallpox epidemic.

6. A More Suitable Place

Arthur Phillip and the officers look for a better place than Botany Bay. The crew and the marines stay behind and sample the rum stores.
It is decided that the new location will be Port Jackson.

Bound for Botany Bay

The Landing of the First Fleet

In 1787, eleven ships of the First Fleet had set sail for Australia the ‘Great South Land’. On 18th January 1788, after 7 months at sea, they arrived at the bay of Kamay (Botany Bay). As the flagship HMS Supply approached, forty Aboriginal people gathered on the south shore – ‘shouting and making many uncouth signs and gestures’.

‘We went a little way up the bay to look for water, but finding none we returned... where we observed a group of natives. We put the boats on shore near where we observed two of their canoes lying. They immediately got up and called to us in a menacing tone, and at the same time brandishing their spears and lances...’
Philip Gidley King

First Encounters

Governor Phillip ordered a man to tie some beads to a canoe:

“We then made signs that we wanted water, when they pointed round the point on which they stood, and invited us to land there. On landing they directed us by pointing to a very fine stream of fresh water.

Governor Phillip then advanced towards them alone and unarmed, on which one of them advanced towards him, but not near enough to receive the beads which the Governor held out for him... (he) made signs for them to be laid on the ground, which was done. He (ye native)...seemed quite astonished at ye figure we cut in being clothed.”
Nb What is the source for this extract??

What''s so great about it?

The following quotes from people of the First Fleet give some idea of their first impressions of a land vastly different to their own.

“I was the convict, sent to Hell”

These opening lines from a famous poem by Dame Mary Gilmore, are about convict life. The following quote from The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, gives a picture of the hardship experienced:

Bidjigal Man

Neighbouring Countries

The places referred to in this song are the main language areas of the Sydney region.

The Bidjigal and Wanegal peoples are now regarded as being a part of the Darug area - the western suburbs of Sydney. People from this area were very distinct from their surrounding communities and had more in common with Darkinjung people than with the Cadigal or waterway dwellers.

p. 43, Bidgigal Man
Elements of mystery still surround our knowledge of Pemulwuy and there are still secrets of his life which are known only to Aboriginal descendants of the Darug and Darkinjung people.

p. 51
After being shown British justice, Arabanoo died of the wave of death which killed over half of the Aboriginal people of the Sydney region and beyond. In the following year, it spread as far as Victoria and even South Australia.

p. 52
Victim of Smallpox

On the 18th May, 1789, Arabanoo died. Captain Tench wrote of him:

‘...we early discovered that he was impatient of indignity, and allowed of no superiority on our part. If the slightest insight were offered him he would return it with interest. He knew he was in our power; but the independence of his mind never forsook him...’

p. 55
Starvation in the Colony

Only a third of the prisoners could work. More than 50 convicts were too feeble from age and incurable illness to work at all, and many others, slum-raised and ignorant of farming, would starve if left to themselves.

Some officers had their own vegetable gardens tended by convicts but few were successful. The soil and weather conditions were very different to those of England.

Little efforts were made to use the food resources available to them. The Europeans still preferred salted beef from England which was up to three years old - rather than eat kangaroo meat. Hoofed animals like cows, which are not native to Australia, have since been farmed on vast areas around Australia. This has contributed to soil erosion on a grand scale. After 200 years, eating kangaroo meat is still an issue of much debate, along with how to best manage forest resources.

p. 57
Under Phillip’s Command

Not long after the death of Arabanoo, Governor Phillip decided to take more captives. This was at a time when the colony was becoming desperate about the short supply of food. Solving this problem was one of Phillip''s main reasons for kidnapping Bennelong and Colby.

On 12th December 1789, after two weeks in custody, Colby escaped by gnawing through the rope tied to his leg iron and was not seen again until the whale feast.
p. 62
An Encounter with Bennelong

Arthur Phillip went to the place of the whale feast. He rushed to the area, stepped out of the boat unarmed, and ‘advanced up the beach with his hands and arms open’. The Governor then called for Bennelong, but he was ‘so changed’ with a long beard, that Phillip recognised him only when he held up a bottle of wine to which Bennelong replied ‘The King!’ (a toast at official occasions). Bennelong still kept a distance. According to Tench, he inquired about some old friends among the Europeans asking particularly about a young lady... ‘from whom he had once ventured a kiss; On being told that she was well... he kissed Lieutenant Waterhouse and laughed out loud.’

p. 65
Nowhere to go to now

Moving to another land was not an option for Bennelong’s people. Bennelong referred to the Kameraygal and Bidjigal people as enemies and special permission was needed to even enter another''s country. The Europeans were obviously mortal, not spirits, and obviously here to stay. His own community had already suffered terrible losses.

p. 69
Trading had now begun in Sydney. People like Balloderee in Parramatta established themselves as commercial fishermen. Others like Pemulwuy traded kangaroo meat for tools etc. It was not long before new problems arose...

p. 71
19. Lawlessness

McEntire, Phillip’s gamekeeper in charge of trade, is punished by Pemulwuy for his cruelty and his trading rum for meat. Phillip decides to punish Pemulwuy’s whole community. Two punitive expeditions are sent out with orders to cut off heads or take prisoners and bring them back to be hanged. Nobody is captured.

p. 76
The Law of the Land

The struggle for justice has taken many forms over the last 200 years. It is only now that the Australian legal system has acknowledged that Terra Nullius was wrong. Australians are just beginning to accept that Aboriginal people have a very unique and different Law.

“Our story is in the land...
It is written in those sacred places.
My children will look after those places,
that''s the Law.

Dreaming place...
you can''t change it,
no matter who you are.
No matter you rich man,
no matter you king.
You can''t change it.”

Bill Neidjie "Kakadu Man"

The spearing of McEntire and the change this caused in Governor Phillip led to war. Many people see it as the beginning of the Aboriginal struggle for justice.

Later, Governor Macquarie established the Native Institution, a school for Aboriginal children. A Darug chief, Yarramundi of Burraberongal, placed his daughter there. She was named Maria Lock. In 1819 she topped the colony in in the Anniversary Schools Examination. When she married a convict carpenter, Macquarie released him in her charge and promised them a cow and a grant of land. Years later Maria wrote letters in the most eloquent English, requesting the land that the Governor had promised.

From the 1860s, Aboriginal people around the state squatted on vacant land in their country and applied to the Government for title. The Government declared the land reserves for Aboriginal people rather than grant the people title rights. At the same time the squatters’ holdings were being broken up to provide land for settlers. All Aboriginal reserve land came under Government control. Many reserves were closed down with whole communities relocated.

A far away King

Aboriginal society had no idea of a ‘king’ or of a leader by birthright as in Europe. The Europeans had no idea of Aboriginal Law and when a person appeared to be ‘on side’
p. 77
they would be declared ‘King of the Tribe’ or ‘King Billy’ and given an inscribed breast plate to wear. This continued throughout the ‘contact'' period along with frontier massacres which were politely called “dispersals”.

p. 78
"now you primly say you''re justified,
And sing of a nation''s glory,
But I think of a people crucified -
The real Australian story."

Excerpt from Jack Davis, 1978
‘Aboriginal Australia - To The Others’

In New South Wales the Aborigines Protection Board was set up in 1883. Aboriginal people called it the ‘Persecution Board’. Its agents were the police. The Board created reserves for Aboriginal people, but nearly half of NSW reserve land was originally claimed by Aboriginal groups. Reserves under the control of the Board were run by non-Aboriginal managers who had absolute power. Aboriginal men on reserves could be made to work up to 32 hours per week without pay. In 1909 the Aborigines Protection Act gave the Board more powers, including the right to take Aboriginal children from their families and ‘bring them up white’. This was ‘for their own good’ but families were never consulted. Boys and girls were sent out to work as labourers and domestic servants, but rarely received the wages that were supposed to be paid them. All over the State reserves were ‘rationalised’ and closed down, often to provide land for soldier settlers. Whole communities were moved from their own country.

p. 77

In 1937 Commonwealth policy became Assimilation. This has been seen as an improvement on ‘dispersal’ and ‘protection’, but it meant that Aboriginal culture was worthless and had to be discarded so that Aboriginal people could be like other Australians. Aboriginal people, and many other Australians, now see assimilation as cultural genocide. In 1940 the Protection Board was abolished and replaced by the Aborigines Welfare Board. More Aboriginal children were taken away to be assimilated ‘for their own good’. In the 1960s assimilation changed to integration, meaning Aboriginal people joining Australian society on their own terms, keeping as much of their culture as they liked. The Welfare Board was finally abolished in 1969.

Self Determination

In 1972 Commonwealth policy changed to self determination, an advance on self-management. Aboriginal people were to make their own decisions. In 1990 ATSIC, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, replaced the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, with elected regional councils and a Board of Commissioners for Aboriginal people to shape their own future. The Australian Law Reform Commission recommended the recognition of Aboriginal law. Justice was to be achieved through Reconciliation. There is still much to be resolved for all Australians

p. 80
Our Dream

A New Tomorrow

ATSIC was closed down in 2004, but Aboriginal land councils, medical, legal and children’s services, educational, cultural, legal, political and family link-up groups, thousands of organisations, still fight for justice. They are joined by reconciliation groups and Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) across the country. And Aboriginal enterprises.

Ignorance and racism have constantly held back the regrowth of Aboriginal culture, and recognition of Aboriginal rights. But in 1992, the High Court rejected terra nullius'' as ‘wrong in fact and in law’. This means that the law of the land no longer accepts that Australia was land belonging to no one.

To Aboriginal Australians, and many other Australians, the end of terra nullius meant much more. Patrick Dodson, founding chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, explained it this way in 1994:

“Australia faces a very important challenge to improve the relationship between the nation’s Indigenous peoples and the wider community. We need to show that we are capable of resolving the causes of disharmony and injustice that have so often marked this relationship, and to work towards a future based on justice and equity... We believe every Australian can take a positive step to better relationships and understanding. We believe we need to become better at working with what we have in common to better deal with what divides us...We invite all Australians to share our vision and to work to make it a reality.”

Our Dream
vision statement of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation

A united Australia that respects this land of ours, values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and provides justice and equity for all.

p. 81
Kath Walker wrote this poem (in the program) as part of the Aboriginal protest movement of the 1960s. It shows the spirit of hope for the future that still prevails in the struggles for justice and change in Australia. Kath Walker changed her name to Oodgeroo of the Tribe Noonuccal in protest at the 1988 Bicentennial (‘oodgeroo’ means paperbark in her language). The poem accompanies song 22 which is a modification of a poem (with permission) by Aboriginal Poet and Elder - Jack Davis.


Some ENDORSEMENTS include the following:








RE 1788 - The Great South Land Musical Resource Kit

I write on behalf of the Council to indicate that a meeting of the Council held in Adelaide on 11 September considered a report by our Secretariat staff on your musical educational resource kit entitled "1788 - The Great South Land".

I am pleased to advise that the Council endorses your kit as a useful and constructive educational tool for reaching young people about the wide range of issues arising from the arrival of British colonists in 1788 and their interaction with indigenous communities in what is now known as NSW.

The kit makes a contribution to understanding for young people of why the doctrine of "terra nullius" was historically wrong as well as legally wrong as recently determined by the High Court in Mabo case.

The Council wishes you will in your endeavours to promote your kit to as wide a range of educational institutions as possible and commends to you, for the future, to broadening the kit to wider geographic horizons.

Yours sincerely

Patrick Dodson


Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation 30 September 1994



21 July 1994


1788: The Great South Land

The New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG Inc) is pleased to endorse the school musical education kit 1788: The Great South Land and fully recommends this resource for use in Aboriginal Education at all levels.

It is the strong view of the NSW AECG Inc that Aboriginal Education must involve not only the appropriate education of Aboriginal students, but also and essentially the education of all Australian students about Aboriginal Australia. The NSWAECG Inc is happy to endorse 1788: The Great South Land for the contribution this kit can make to these objectives by presenting the Aboriginal side of the story of the events of1788 and after. This kit can make a significant contribution to achieving the goals of Aboriginal reconciliation by teaching students to understand Australian history from an Aboriginal point of view.

The development of 1788: The Great South Land has involved the advice of the NSW AECG Inc at all stages, and has been a model of the right way to develop education resources. The NSW AECG Inc commends Creative and Musical Resources for their commitment to appropriate consultative processes and to telling the truth about Australia.

The NSW AECG Inc is happy to endorse 1788: The Great South Land also because the quality and power of the music and the lyrics will attract students to learning about the real history and the real nature of this country and thus contribute to an Aboriginal reconciliation by encouraging al lstudents to learn the truth about Australia.

Linda Burney


(Ms Burney is now a Minister for the Department of Fair Trading in the State of NSW)


12 October 1993

From: Nigel Parbury, AECG


In my capacity as Research Officer for the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG Inc) I have been involved with the production of the musical resource 1788: The Great South Land since 1991 when theproject concept was submitted to a meeting of the Metropolitan North Regional AECG which I attended.

I have regularly provided advice on behalf on the NSW AECG Inc to ensure that the resource is as culturally appropriate and authentic as possible, and on behalf of the NSW AECG Inc I will be involved in reviewing the final drafts of all materials of the resource.

On Thursday 30 September 1993 the resource was workshopped at the third Annual Conference of the Aboriginal Studies Association at Daramalan College, Canberra. The response from both Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people involved in Aboriginal Studies was extremely positive. On the same evening excerpts from 1788: The Great South Land were performed at the Conference Dinner by students of St Mary''s School, Erskineville. The audience response was extremely enthusiastic. On both occasions the quality of the music was seen as a prime attraction.

I have no hesitation in recommending 1788: The Great South Land as a most valuable resource with the potential to make a major contribution to Aboriginal Reconciliation, both through the power and artistry of its music and through the drama and education activities telling the real story of the ''settlement'' of Australia. I commend 1788: The Great South Land as both excellent entertainment and a really effective education resource.

Nigel Parbury

Research Officer





From Di Grigg

To Chris Robinson

RE 1788 The Great South Land

I was very pleased to meet you recently at the National Aboriginal Studies Association Conference in Canberra and participate in your motivating workshop introducing the innovative integrated resource kit "1788 The Great South Land".

As an Aboriginal Education Resource Teacher within the Department of Education, Employment and Training of SouthAustralia and working in over twenty schools, I am very excited about this excellent resource

- a first in Australia.


I was very impressed by the trouble you had gone to, to ensure appropriate consultation with Aboriginal people had been effected - this is essential. I was equally impressed that you were anxious to ensure that appropriate terminology and language was modelled throughout the kit.

Without seeing the performance I was convinced that this was are source I wanted to share with my peers and their students.

The special mini performance shared at the conference reaffirmed my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance along with the rest of the audience. It was great.

The music is excellent and will really appeal to the children''s sense of "cool". Congratulation, Chris you have really captured all the elements of music that children love!

The props and presentation were simple but innovative. These are ideally suited to the simple but distinguished costumes which enable the audience to identify roles quickly, so that the message is effective. I found it visually exciting.

I would like you to pass on my congratulations to the children who performed for us and the choreographers.

Would you please thank Chris Tobin for his valued contribution to your workshop and presentation. I realise the process involved in developing this kit has been tedious and time consuming but I would again like to congratulate all involved and wish you success in this venture.

Yours sincerely

Di Grigg

Aboriginal Education Resource Teacher


South Australia


then NSW DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING on both extreme political persuasions wrote endorsements for this work around the time they agreed to a Reconciliation Process - and that process was interferred with from 1997 - 2007 under the rule of John Howard. His refusal to continue the inernationally recognised process for ten years was reflected in his refusal to "apoligise" which was meant to start the process. Times have changed and the process - as well as this learning program - have restarted in 2008.]



17th August 1994

Thank you for sending me 1788 The Great South Land.

I support this creative initiative, ...

Yours in Music Education

Mandawuy Yunupingu


Formerly: 1788 - The Great South Land

We hope you enjoy the songs!

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