Richard Walley

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Dr Richard Barry Walley OAM is a Nyoongar man, one of Australia's leading Aboriginal performers,[1] musicians and writers, who has been a campaigner for the Indigenous cause.

Life and career[edit]

Richard Barry Walley, born in 1953 in Meekatharra, 750 km north of Perth, Western Australia, spent much of his childhood at Pinjarra, 80 km south of Perth.[2] began his work in social justice for Indigenous Australians in the Perth region, the Nyoongars, at a young age. By 23 he was chairing Western Australia's Aboriginal Advisory Board, while also involved in the formation or operation of the Aboriginal Housing Board, Aboriginal Medical Service, Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Alcoholism Committee, Aboriginal Sports Foundation and the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship.

In 1978, he founded the Middar Aboriginal Theatre[3] with three friends,[2] including Ernie Dingo, who he had met playing basketball. Walley had realised early the powerful potential of theatre to raise issues and bring messages to the broader community, black and white.

Aiming to take the Nyungar culture from the south-west corner of Australia to as many people as possible, the Middar group went on to perform in 32 countries,[2] on every continent, to live audiences totalling almost ten million people.

After acting in theatre and TV, Walley went on to further develop his theatre skills, holding the role of either director or assistant director in 10 productions in theatre and TV from 1982 to 1993. Several of these productions took place in the United States and the UK. During this period Walley also wrote several screenplays.

Richard is also a renowned didgeridoo player and has produced a six CD collection of didgeridoo music that is inspired by the six seasons of the Nyungar calendar.

He has played didgeridoo live at London's Royal Albert Hall, as well as in Greece, Slovenia, Japan, Mexico, the US, and Canada, to name just a few.

In 2001 he performed in Westminster Abbey for dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, as part Australia's Centenary of Federation celebrations.[4] In the same year, he worked with Carlos Santana with music for his Supernatural Evening with Santana and contributed to the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Walley is also a visual artist, with his works in much demand by collectors in Australia and overseas.[5] In 1993 Walley was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his contribution to the Performing Arts and Nyungar culture.

From 2000 he served as Chair of the Australia Council's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, a position he had held previously between 1992 and 1996.[6] In 2001, Murdoch University in Western Australia recognised his contribution to Nyungar culture and the wider community with an honorary Doctorate of Letters.[2][7]

In 2003, he released Two Tribes, a collaboration with a group of artists; an eclectic selection of songs combining traditional Indigenous music with contemporary styles such as rap and hip hop.

Walley has been involved as director, designer, writer, musician, dancer and actor with a range of stage and television productions including The Dreamers (1982), A Fortunate Life (1984), Bullies House (1985), Coordah (1985), Australian Mosaic (1988), Jackaroo (1990), Balaan Balaan Gwdtha (1992) and Close to the Bone (1993).[6]

Most recently, he has toured with the John Butler Trio delivering a unique Indigenous and spoken word performance, Son of MotherEarth.

Walley says, "through music, dance and art we can achieve natural highs and core inner strength without the use of artificial stimulants, thus enhancing the spirit, strengthening the mind and invigorating the body which brings a feeling of self worth and holistic respect."

Walley is a fluent speaker of the Nyungar language. He is Director of Aboriginal Productions and Promotions.

In 2013 Walley designed a football jumper for the Fremantle Football Club to wear during the Australian Football League's Indigenous Round. In 2016 he was appointed as the club's honorary number 1 ticketholder.[8]


  • Bilya (1996)
  • Kooyar (1996)
  • Yoowintj (1996)
  • Waitch (1996)
  • Carda (1996)
  • Boolong (1996)
  • Two Tribes – SunMusic/MGM (SMACD35) (2003)
  • Two Roads – SunMusic/MGM (2005)


  1. ^ "AIA – Music" (PDF). Australia Council for the Arts. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d "Honorary Degree Recipient" (PDF). Murdoch University. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  3. ^ "Indigenous Tourism in the South West Region of Western Australia". Murdoch University. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  4. ^ Flint, David. "Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference of The Samuel Griffith Society". Chapter Twelve : A Century of Achievement. The Samuel Griffith Society. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Djuripn". Burswood Entertainment Complex. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Dr Richard Walley reappointed to Australia Council". Media release. Senator Rod Kemp (Federal Minister for Arts). 2 December 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  7. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients – Murdoch University". Murdoch University Handbook. Murdoch University. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  8. ^ Balme, Ned (23 March 2016). "Richard Walley is new number one".[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]