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Crowds gathered in Melbourne this morning to give the legendary Archie Roach an emotional farewell

By on August 22, 2022 0

DISCLAIMER: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a deceased person. Archie Roach passed away on July 30, 2022 and his family granted permission to use his name and likeness.

At 9.20am today a roaring motorcade of Harley Davidsons descended on Smith Street in Fitzroy. ‘The Rocks’ at the corner of Stanley Street, a well-known Aboriginal meeting place, was the first stop in a procession to bring Archie Roach home to his ancestral homeland of Gunditjmara.

A crisp winter sun shone on an emotional crowd, who came to pay tribute to a giant of Australian music and culture, just over three weeks after his death on July 30. who revved in reverence in cavalcade. On the sidewalk, a tearful onlooker draped in an Aboriginal flag raised a clenched fist and bid her a final farewell: “See you on the other side, Unc.”

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Large format spoke to some of those who were there to say “Catch you later” to Uncle Archie Roach.

Bundjalung man Kevin “Sheepy” Ellis – who was a friend of Roach’s children and his partner Ruby Hunter – lived with Roach during his teenage years and said their time together was “the best experience all time”.

“There are so many things I can say about this man. We are here today to pay tribute to him. He gave us a lot of love and respect through his songs and by his heart alone, just like a human being. He was a gentle giant, you know, a very handsome man.

From the Melbourne music industry, Helen Marcou and Quincy Mclean of Bakehouse Studios in Richmond said they were there to pay tribute to their former patrons, Uncle Archie and Aunty Ruby.

“Archie was not only such an important voice for his generation and his people, but he also spoke for the music. His songlines transcended more than the music. His music, his songwriting, his storytelling – he didn’t there is no one like him,” said Marcou Large format.

“We are in awe of him. I also get goosebumps thinking about Archie and Aunty Ruby’s legacy. It is really important that we honor him.

“It was always such an honor to have them [in our studio]. Just the joy they brought with their music – and sometimes the heartbreak – but the storytelling will live on forever. It’s iconic in Australia.

Wadawurrung man John stood with his daughter as he prepared to ride in the procession that would send Roach to his funeral in Warrnambool tomorrow via Charcoal Alley – a site of such profound importance to Roach that it inspired the title of his debut album – past the Aboriginal Health Service and on to St Kilda.

John said Large format he was part of the Black Death Australia IPC “Aboriginal political club” – a motorcycle club which serves to bring attention to Aboriginal issues, particularly deaths in custody. “Archie has been the voice of all Indigenous people for decades. He had the courage to write songs about the atrocities that have happened over the past 200 years. So, of course, we recognize him and we love him and hold him in very high esteem because of that.