D Days
H Hours
M Min
until the 2018 Commonwealth Games commence.
Longines Time
April 4 to 15 2018
The Spirit of Churaki
  • Thu 12 Apr 2018
  • Main Stage, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
  • Festival 2018
  • Free
Music World premiere

The Spirit of Churaki

An epic music production inspired by the story of Churaki; an Aboriginal man heralded as the Gold Coast’s first surf lifesaver.

Churaki, a Goodjingburra man, performed the first documented act of lifesaving on the Gold Coast in 1911. This was one of many daring rescues he carried out in the early 1900's as the surf bathing craze took hold.

A heroic story, largely unknown, The Spirit of Churaki honours a rich lineage of saltwater people, a spirit of generosity, a deep connection to country and cultural obligation.

Starring an extraordinary line up of legendary Australian musicians under the musical direction of Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes) and cultural collaborator Kyle Slabb (Banaam) with evocative visuals by renowned artist Vernon Ah Kee, this production is a musical collaboration united by the spirit of the surf.

Presented as a full night of entertainment, The Spirit of Chuarki rides the perfect wave between traditional ceremony, the ancient sounds of Aboriginal language and compelling music theatre, closing with a cyclonic set by Australian surf rock legends, The Break.

Brian Ritchie

Brian Ritchie started his musical career in Milwaukee, USA as a busker with folk-punk pioneers Violent Femme which skyrocketed to record deals, press notoriety and international touring, playing more than 2000 concerts and 40 countries over 30 years. 

He is currently Music Curator at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Tasmania and Artistic Director of MONA FOMA. Brian has continued his performing career as a member of modern surf-rock band The Break with three ex-Midnight Oil members and Italian Punk band Zen Circus. Brian is a master shakuhachi (bamboo flute) player, regularly tours internationally with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and also is currently touring again with The Violent Femmes.

Kyle Slabb

Kyle Slabb is often found sifting through the wreckage at the collision point of two cultures. Creativity as well as pragmatism is needed when salvaging the pieces, reframing and building solutions for going forward in modern multicultural communities.

With ancestral ties crossing Gudjingburra, Bundjalung and Yugambeh, Kyle credits Indigenous cultural frameworks and intelligences as being at the heart of many successful initiatives and business. As a director of Jaali Inc. Kyle and his team love to have culturally conversant conversations, using language art, music or installation.  

Tim Baker

Tim Baker is the best-selling author of numerous books on surfing, including ‘Bustin’ Down The Door’, ‘High Surf’ and “Occy”. He is a former editor of Tracks and Surfing Life magazines and former editorial director of Morrison Media Services. Tim has won the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award three times and been nominated for the CUB Australian Sports Writing Awards. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, the Bulletin, Inside Sport, Playboy, GQ, the Surfers Journal, Qantas - the Australian Way, as well as surfing magazines around the world. 

Fred Leone

A well-respected and established Musician, Artistic Director/Producer and active community leader, Fred is a Garawa (NT) and Butchella (South Coast of Queensland) Aboriginal man with strong Australian Aboriginal, Tongan and South-Sea Islander heritage. Fred’s passion for cultural maintenance and revival is evident in his ever-growing catalogue of work, including Clancestry Closing Ceremony Curator at Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Curator of Indigenous content G20 Cultural Program and Guest Artistic Director for Black Arm Band. As a performer he has toured nationally and internationally to great acclaim including as front man of Impossible Odds. Fred is also the founder of Queensland’s only Indigenous owned and operated record label.

Vernon Ah Kee

Vernon Ah Kee is a member of the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidinji and Gugu Yimithirr peoples. His multi-faceted practice includes works that range from large-scale drawings of his ancestors to hard-hitting text-based works and installations. 

Venon’s works have been seen at major galleries nationally and internationally including representing Australia at the 2009 Venice Biennale and works in solo and group exhibitions at Queensland Art Gallery Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Canada, 14th Istanbul Biennial, National Gallery of Australia Canberra, 16th Biennale of Sydney and National Gallery of Victoria to name a few.  

The Break

In 2010 Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie, Martin Rotsey (Midnight Oil), Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes) and Jack Howard (Hunters & Collectors) joined forces to form super-band ‘The Break’.

Session times:
7pm: By the Beach
7.50pm: Mixing of the Water
8.10pm: The Spirit of Churaki Concert
9.30pm: The Break


Commissioned and produced by Bleach* Festival and City of Gold Coast.



Thu 12 Apr 2018
Thu 12 Apr, 07:00pm - 11:00pm
Main Stage, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

-27.9979378, 153.4306901

Surfers Paradise Esplanade
Surfers Paradise QLD 4217

Accessibility information

The Main Stage is located on the sand, but can be viewed from The Esplanade. 


Kyle Slabb, Lead Artistic Collaborator and Cultural advisor 
Brian Ritchie, Musical director 
Vernon Ah Kee, Visual artist and Production design 
Tim Baker, Writer and Researcher 
Rhoda Roberts AO, Dramaturg and Rehearsal director
Libby McDonnell, Costume design
Dan Black, Lighting design

Core Musicians: 
Fred Leone, Didgeridoo, Ukulele, Vocals 
Veronique Serret, Strings 
Sam Pankhurst, Bass 
Greg Sheehan, Percussion 
Leah Flanagan, Vocals 
Lawrence English, Sound Design 

Musicians: Kyle Slabb, Josh Slabb, Kaleb Slabb , Jurrulah Slabb, Colin Usher 

Guest Musicians:The Break featuring Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie, Martin Rotsey (Midnight Oil), Jack Howard (Hunters & Collectors) and Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes).

Claudio Kirac, Photography + Film

Thank you to the Elders and community who participated in the project, so generously making extraordinary cultural and artistic contributions to the work

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