Big hART

Tjaabi, Flood Country

Written & Directed by Scott Rankin

From the desert to the floodplains to the sea, Tjaabi, Flood Country is an immersive theatrical spectacle like no other. Led by Ngarluma performer Patrick Churnside, this work – part theatre, part concert, part cinema – offers audiences an encounter with an ancient Aboriginal artform never before seen outside the Pilbara.

Tjaabi, Flood Country is simultaneously music, mystery and life. Living culture and country wrapped in sound, image and story. With a calm sorrow and joy, Ngarluma performer Patrick Churnside incants the contradictions of his country flooded by modernity – where the weakest of strengths and the strongest of weaknesses combine in a profound intercultural howl of now.

Through the little known song-form of the tjaabi, Flood Country uses song, story and video to draw us into the unknowable beneath the known, and the depth beneath the shallows as we soar above the Pilbara on this journey across distant sands to where desert meets the sea.

Borne out of a deep intergenerational project that spans many years of Big hART working in Roebourne, Tjaabi, Flood Country is an intersection between old and new, never before seen on stage.  


Big hART is Australia’s leading campaigning arts organisation which has worked in over 50 communities, mostly regional and disadvantaged. We make art. We build communities. We drive change. The words "Make, Build, Drive" are action focused. They capture Big hART's commitment to taking action that is positive, non‐adversarial and inventive, to bring about important change. 

For 25 years we have also been motivated by the statement: “It's harder to hurt someone if you know their story.” Powerful narrative, utilising contemporary platforms and technologies, can protect vulnerable people from injustice and motivate a public climate for generational change.


Patrick can communicate across cultures, a kind of a community diplomat. He carries the scars and pain of difficult experiences and yet this hurt doesn’t dictate how he conducts himself. I see him as someone who is being asked by his community to carry more and more responsibility. I also see someone who looks at young people who are struggling to find a pathway and sees himself and those that assisted him.
Scott Rankin

The Making of Tjaabi

Ready to Tour


Co-created and performed by Patrick Churnside
Writer/Director Scott Rankin
Musical Director/Performer  Aaron Hopper
Set Design Genevieve Dugard
Video Design  Benjamin Ducroz and Telen Rodwell
Lighting Design Stephen Hawker
Sound Design & Mix Steph O'Hara 

If you are interested in touring get in contact!

Arts on Tour
02 9699 7133