Organized by the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection


The Gälpu clan belongs to the Dhuwa moiety. Major spiritual themes include Wititj and Bol’ŋu. Wititj is the all-powerful ancestral rainbow serpent that possesses the power to strike lightning with its tongue and create rainbows from the reflection of its scales. Bol’ŋu is the Thunderman, the embodiment of wet season clouds. Gälpu sing the origin story of the Dhuwa instrument yiḏaki (didjeridu).

The homeland of the Gälpu clan is Gikal. Gikal is a mangrove beach along the Nalawarung Straits. Gälpu people live at Yirrkala, Galiwin’ku, Goulburn Island, Gunyuŋarra, Gäṉgaṉ and Galupa. 

The Gälpu clan speaks the Dhaŋgu language and their surname is Gurruwiwi. Djalu Gurruwiwi was a famous yiḏaki player, maker and ceremonial elder. Mithinari Gurruwiwi was an important artist of the 1960s and contributed to the Yirrkala Church Panels. Guwanbaḻ Gurruwiwi is an acclaimed singer and co-creator of the Djari Project, which fuses traditional song with contemporary classical music. In a conversation with Andrew Grimes, Guwanbaḻ described his family line:

First, I will mention our Gälpu forefathers, the old people. Gurruwiwi was my great-great-grandfather, my father’s father’s father’s father, whom I call wäwa (brother). And Gurruwiwi’s son was Marraṯuwa, and then Marraṯuwa’s sons were named Monyu and Mithinari. I, Guwanbal, am from Monyu’s male line. Of course, there were many other Gälpu people back then, but I’m talking about myself, and I am one of Marraṯuwa’s descendants. My father was Monyu’s son Dhaluwuma, that was his “big” (important ancestral) name, and his “smaller” everyday name was Miŋi, and also, Babamiku. I am his son, Miŋi’s son. That is how it is, the Gälpu line from their sons and to our sons, our grandchildren.

The consulting curators from the Gälpu clan for this project were Guwanbaḻ Gurruwiwi and Djalu Gurruwiwi.