"They gave him back in a potato sack" - The Story of 'Restless Dream'
It’s estimated upwards of 10,000 Aboriginal remains are held in museums around the world.
Pillaged and stolen from Aboriginal land as far back as the 1800s, the remains were often passed off as “kangaroo bones” in order to be smuggled out of the country. Invaluable objects of human life were bartered and sold until they ended up scatted all over Europe and North America.
Despite Aboriginal religious law stating there will be no spiritual peace until the dead have been returned to the place of their birth and received their last rites in accordance with their traditions, museums in places like Germany, France and the UK continue to cling to these priceless remains.
Kamileroi elder Uncle Bob Weatherall has dedicated much of his adult life to returning these remains to the rightful homes.
"We have a responsibility to uphold the fundamental rights of the dead to return to the lands of their birth, and to be given customary last rites in accordance with their culture and beliefs,” Uncle Bob explains.
Having spent many nights at the practices of Brisbane band Halfway, listening to them play and sharing his stories, the idea emerged of an album of spoken word and music that told the story of the Repatriation of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains.
“My ears sought out Bob’s words in the dark, the stories of his work: travelling to the other side of the earth; the arrogance and thievery of scientists and protectors; the overwhelming emotion of this job. A job which chose him. A tricky job, full of negotiation, responsibility, righteous successes, and disheartening failures,” Halfway’s John Willsteed said.
“He was burdened with an overwhelming question: Who is going to carry this work on?”
And so Halfway, Uncle Bob and Aboriginal musician William Barton began recording Restless Dream in 2016 in the hopes of encouraging all Australians to become inspired to continue Uncle Bob's mission.
The result is an album that’s both immensely powerful and incredibly haunting, anchored by the lead single ‘Bloodlines No.2’, a Halfway track that found purpose underneath Uncle Bob’s precious story.
“This was the first song that came from those nights listening to Bobby’s voice in the dark. The idea of nature telling a story – ‘time and trees don’t lie,” explains Willsteed.
“The stories filtered through the band, and this music came out.”Restless Dream is a very personal story, yet it touches all Aboriginal Nations as they grapple with the task of repatriation and reburial, just as it acknowledges those who have taken on the task of uncovering the past and advocating for the Rights of the Dead.
The reparation process has been slow with few successes, however Uncle Bob has hope that the album will raise awareness of this oversight of justice and insight a fire in people all over Australia. A fire that will burn until the remains of every Aboriginal person is returned to the land that they belong to.
“Restless Dream will help to put an end to the injustices of the past in the true spirit of reconciliation and justice.”
Get to know our 2021 ARIA Award nominees!
It’s almost time for Aussie music’s night of nights – the 2021 ARIA awards!
Meet Our New Signings - Baby Velvet, Jamie McDell and Melanie Dyer!
In an unprecedented turn of events, ABC Music has had three amazing new artists join our family over the past month.