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Warumpi Band Blackfella Whitefella.png
Single by Warumpi Band
from the album Big Name, No Blankets
A-side "Blackfella/Whitefella"
B-side "Fitzroy Crossing"
Released 1985
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded January 1985
Genre Country rock, Aboriginal rock
Length 3:25
Label Powderworks
Songwriter(s) Neil Murray, George Rrurrambu
Producer(s) Warumpi Band
Warumpi Band singles chronology
"Jailanguru Pakarnu (Out of Jail)"
"My Island Home"
"Jailanguru Pakarnu (Out of Jail)"
"My Island Home"

"Blackfella/Whitefella" is an Australian country rock song written by Neil Murray and George Rrurrambu, recorded by their Aboriginal rock group, Warumpi Band, and released as the sole single from their 1985 album, Big Name, No Blankets on Parole Records and Powderworks Records. While not a chart success, the song drew attention to issues of racism in Australia through lyrics that encourage harmony and co-operation by people of all races. The song received national airplay and attention in 1986 when politically charged rockers and Powderworks Records founders Midnight Oil accompanied the band on a free concert tour of remote Aboriginal communities as the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour.[1]


Songwriter Neil Murray's inspiration for "Blackfella/Whitefella" came from his experience as a white man working in Papunya, a predominately Indigenous community north west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory from 1980. Although he was part of a minority, Murray found that in the isolated community, everybody was getting along, enjoying activities such as music and football. In 1985, after discussing the song and its message with band mates Sammy Butcher and George Rrurrambu, the later suggested that Murray include "yellafella" (a term sometimes used to refer to individuals of mixed race) in the lyrics, broadening the message of the song to include people from all places.[2]

In 1985 "Blackfella/Whitefella" appeared as the second track on Warumpi Band's debut album, Big Name, No Blankets on Parole Records and Powderworks Records.[3]

Other Media[edit]

The single was included as an addition track on Australian and International 12" single releases of Midnight Oil's "The Dead Heart" released in July 1986.[4]

A 30-minute documentary film entitled Blackfella/Whitefella produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was released in 1987. The film inspired by the song showcases both Warumpi Band and Midnight Oil while touring together through Central Australia in 1986 and deals with both music and politics.[5]

In 2012, a children's book of the same name containing the song's lyrics accompanied by illustrations by Australian children was published by One Day Hill. Blackfella Whitefella is part of a series containing the lyrics of iconic songs which are intended to educate children on the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their struggle for recognition and equal rights. The book was launched by musician Archie Roach, with a percentage of book sales intended to support the Papunya community.[6]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Australian rock music band Powderfinger included a cover version of "Blackfella/Whitefella" on their 1996 single, "D.A.F.". A statement on the back cover includes "help support the indigenous people of Australia. Educate yourself."[7]
  • Aboriginal country and folk singer Jimmy Little covered the song on his 1999 album, Messenger, a collection of covers of 1980s popular and alternative Australian rock music.[8]
  • Australian singer Missy Higgins features the song on her 2014 album OZ, which includes supporting vocals by Crystal Itjuwalyi Butcher. "Oz", being a cover album of Australian songs, also features Neil Murray's "Calm and Crystal Clear".[9]
  • The popular song "The Bad Touch" by American alternative band Bloodhound Gang uses exactly the same progression as the main riff of "Blackfella/Whitefella", except their version is in C minor compared to the Warumpis' A minor.


  1. ^ "The music of survival, pride, and indomitability" (PDF). Australia Council for the Arts. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Blackfella Whitefella". Angus & Robertson. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Warumpi Band (1985), Big Name, no Blankets, Parole Records. National Library of Australia, retrieved 7 January 2014 
  4. ^ "Midnight Oil/Warumpi Band/Coloured Stone – The Dead Heart". Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Black Fella White Fella Tour". Screen Australia. 
  6. ^ "Harmony the key in music and life" (PDF). Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care. August 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Black Fella / White Fella". Powderfinger: Hindley Site. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Jimmy Little discography". Creative Spirits. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Williams, T. "Missy Higgins' 'OZ' is Both an Album and a Book." (4 August 2014)