Bringing light to this dark – Kids of Cabbage Tree Island turn tragedy into musical strength with debut ‘NGUMBINY (HOME) song

10 August, 2023

The Cabbage Tree Island Community have released their debut launch of short film ‘NGUMBINY (HOME)’ and Cabbo Crew’s debut song and music video ‘Wanna Go Home’, a tribute to the strength of the families and kids that braved the devastating 2022 NSW floods.

NSWALC was proud to support the event through our Regional Events Grant program, held in Ballina, and hosted by the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council.

NSWALC Northern Zone Director, Rowan Lisson says NSWALC has supported the LALC and community and will continue that relationship of honesty and care as Cabbage Tree Island begin the road to recovery.

“It’s very important that we get behind local Aboriginal Land Councils that need to try and continue as best they can, particularly when they experience these types of events that really impact their communities. And that’s what we do; we support grassroots people as much as we can because that’s why we’re here. It’s mob on the ground, that’s what matters most.”

But it’s a long journey ahead. Jali LALC CEO, Chris Binge says the community is still reeling from the effects of the disaster

“It’s been one of the hardest periods of Jali LALC’s life in the land council space. But more importantly, it’s that’s also been one of the hardest spaces for our community as well. We’ve been there supporting the community from day one, from the evacuation right through to today.

They’re going to be emerging into a new phase of what community life might look like for for Cabbage Tree Island and then more importantly, what community life might be like for the future of the tenants and those young kids. That’s probably the most important thing for us to focus on, because it’s not about what happens now, it’s about what happens in the next five, ten, twenty, thirty years because we have to think future and we have to think about how we do it better.”

At the time of the floods and with only 3 hours’ notice from the SES, Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson, Lenkunyar Roberts-Hickling recalls the community coming together to survive and reach safety.

“It was quite serious; it was traumatic for the kids and the elders. They didn’t think or expect it to be that high and that big of a flood. And how quick it was, the impact, so they left home with basically a bag and that was it.”

“I think the most devastating thing for me and my family was coming back after and seeing what you had lost.”

The youth and community members collaborated with Desert Pea Media and Jali LALC to create the song, music video and short film that speak to the proud history of Cabbo and their resilience in the face of adversity.

Now armed with these deadly works, the community have something they can be proud of and remind them of their resilience and connection to culture and country even in the hardest of times.

Like the song says, Cabbo’s what the next generation live for. They’re about unity and family and there’s no doubt that even in after the traumatic events of 2022, their culture will live on stronger than ever before.

it’s a feeling that their eyes can’t see, a place where the river meets the sea, where the sun shines through the cane smoke – their island home.


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.