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Stuart Joel Nuggett And David Garnham Join Forces For Powerful Protest Song ‘Ilbingini Agiyabarda’

11 May 2023 | 9:21 am | Ellie Robinson

The title (pronounced “ill-bin-g-in-e ar-ghee-bar-da”) translates from Jingulu to English as ‘When The Water Goes Down’.

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The power of music is an incredible thing, and protest songs have been a backbone of country music since its inception – so when Stuart Joel Nuggett joined forces with David Garnham & The Reasons To Live, they knew they had an opportunity to make a positive change.

Together, they’ve crafted Ilbingini Agiyabarda – which is pronounced “ill-bin-g-in-e ar-ghee-bar-da” and translates from Jingulu language to When The Water Goes Down – as a protest song to fight back against the existing and proposed expansion of fracking (on-shore gas drilling) in the Beetaloo Basin (approximately 500 kilometres southeast of Darwin). According to a press release, the ripping and poignant song exists as “a stark warning of the ramifications for the communities to the South if the groundwater becomes contaminated – because if the water goes down, the water goes down”.

Ilbingini Agiyabarda was produced by Ben Allen (Broadwing) and Dave Crowe (Resin Moon), and comes alongside a striking music video filmed and directed by Tully Hemsley from PRLX. Take a look at it below.

As reported by 9 News, the Northern Territory government greenlit fracking in the Beetaloo Basin earlier this month. The move was widely derided by scientists and climate experts, with Dr Jennifer Rayner (head of advocacy at the Climate Council) saying in a statement that the government “must have missed the part where the world's scientists said any new gas or coal would blow our chances of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees”.

Nuggett was born and raised in the NT, with he and his family being some of the last remaining speakers of the Jingulu language (native to the Barkly region). Throughout April, he and Garnham toured the state “in a bid to celebrate, promote and create more works in language”. Amid their efforts, they spent a week working with the community in Kulumindini/Elliot to write a suite of new songs in Jingulu.

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Nuggett has thus far released one EP – a self-titled effort that arrived in 2019 – as well as the standalone 2020 single Shy. Garnham, on the other hand, has released two albums with The Reasons To Live – Love Inside A Jar in 2012 and Noise To Fill The Void in 2021 – as well as the One Man Down EP in 2020.