Tali Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of paintings by Cedric Varcoe depicting scenes from the Songline of his Ngarrindjeri people from South Australia.     This exhibition of small paintings was commissioned by the City of Sydney to be hung in their Library in Surry Hills. They were displayed in the main section of the Library for people to follow and enjoy.    An explanation of Song Lines, Cedric’s CV and photographs with the story was displayed in the foyer to promote more widespread understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal art and culture.   The information presented in the exhibition is set out below.


CV Tali Gallery SH LibraryCV Tali Gallery Surry HillsCV SH Library Tali Gallery










The continent of Australia contains an extensive system of song lines, some of which are of a few kilometres in length, while others cover hundreds of kilometres through lands of many different Indigenous language groups.

These song lines or dreaming tracks follow a pathway across the land (and sometimes the sky) mapping out the travels of creation ancestors during the Dreaming.

The paths of the song lines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance, and painting.

Aboriginal people could navigate vast distances, often travelling through the rugged terrain and deserts of Australia’s interior by reciting the song lines in sequence.

Different parts of the song length are expressed in the different languages of the tribal groups the song crosses through.

Understanding the particular language of an area is not an issue because it is the rhythm of the song which describes the land travelled.  When walking this song line, Aboriginal people deeply listen to the song of the land and also look at it deeply.

The song lines describe the location of waterholes, rock formations and other natural landmarks to enable navigation.  The travels of the creation ancestor beings relate to features in the landscape, such as large depressions in the ground which are said to be their footprints.

Traditional Aboriginal people regard all land as sacred, and the songs must be continually sung to keep the land “alive”.  In some cases, a song line has a particular direction and walking the wrong way is inappropriate (e.g. climbing Uluru upwards when the song line travels downwards).



Cedric Varcoe Song Line paintings 2Cedric Varcoe Song Line paintingsCV SL Tali Gallery Surry Hills LibraryCV SL Paintings Surry Hills LibraryCedric Varcoe Song line paintings 3





















A long time ago the great hunter Ngurunderi came down the river in his bark canoe in search of his wives and a big fish, the great big pondi, and turned the small stream into the Murray River it is today.

Ngurunderi left his camp and went looking for his wives, his hut became two hills.  Ngurunderi came down the river making high cliffs and hills.  He made lightning and thunder.

Ngurunderi tried to spear Pondi,, the Great Murray Cod, but missed, and his spear was changed into Long Island near Murray Bridge. Ngurunderi made all the things including rainbows.   His brothers were the great hunters Nepeli and Ngurunderi.  Ngurunderi made and gave his people, the Ngarrindjeri people, weapons for hunting and for war.

Big Pondi was speared by Ngurunderi.  Ngurunderi and Nepeli cut and divided Pondi with his stone knife, creating new fish from each piece they put back in the river and lakes.

Ngurunderi cam ped by the Lake Alexandrina, then he went looking for his wives.   Ngurunderi puts his canoe up in the sky, turning it into the Milky Way.  The wives camp and they cook boney bream. The fish is forbidden to Ngarrindjeri women.

Ngurunderi and Nepeli made the little salt lakes all over our country, from where they prepared kangaroo skins pegged out to dry.   Ngurunderi made lighting which gives us rain and makes everything grow.

There was a big fight with Ngurunderi and an old magic man. The two men fought using weapons and magic. Ngurunderi won and burnt the old man’s body in a big fire.  Ngurunderi won against the old magic man and got his children back.

Ngurunderi walked along the Coorong, making his camps from place to place. At his camp, he would start digging soaks (a water source in the Australian deserts) in the sand for fresh water.

Ngurunderi fis hed i n the Coorong lagoon.  He made his way across the Murray mouth looking for his wives.    While looking for his wives Ngurunderi hunted a big seal in the sea and killed it on the big rocks at Port Elliot.  Still to this day you can hear its dying gasps at the rocks.

Ngurunderi hurled his club to the ground, creating the bluff, when he heard his wives playing  near Kings Beach.  The wives fled along the beach to Cape Jervis, still running from Ngurunderi, but were swept from their path by huge waves. They drowned and formed the Rocky Page Island.

Ngurunderi dived deep under the ocean where he saw a great big fire. Avoiding the fire, he surfaced at Kangaroo Island (the island of the dead) before going up to the Milky Way.   Ngurunderi is depicted up in the Milky Way and camps with Nepeli.



Creation Story by Cedric Varcoe at Tali GalleryPondi by Cedric Varcoe at Tali Gallery











Ngurunderi turn ed small birds into Ngarrinjeri people and he also made the big emu and other big animals for the men and young boys to hunt and feed the whole tribe. The men passed down Ngurunderi’s stories t o the young men of the next generation so they could continue to provide for the Ngarrinjeri people.

Nurunderi’s two wives tricked his brother, Wyungare to marry them and all three ran off. Ngurunderi chased them for a long time but could not catch them.
Nepeli, the great man of the heavens set out to separate the three. He lit a magic fire which chased them.

Ngurunderi’s two wives tricked his brother, Wyungare to marry them and all three ran off. Ngurunderi chased them for a long time but could not catch them.
Nepeli, the great man of the heavens set out to separate the three. He lit a magic fire which chased them. Wyungare asked Nepeli to save his wives who threw them a spear tied to a rope to ascend to the Milky Way where they became stars in the Eastern Sky. Ngurunderi is still looking for the fugitives in the Milky Way so he can punish them for breaking his law which he set in place when he created the Ngarrinjeri Country with his magic powers, using the big rain clouds, lightning and thunder.  To this day, Ngurunderi, Nepeli and Wyungare are found in the Milky Way

Ngurunderi created a big rain cloud to help everything grow in Ngarrinjeri country and afterwards, and with the help of the rain, he made a rainbow with his magic powers to show everyone that there is fresh water for people all over our country.


Cedric Varcoe Tali GalleryCreation Story by Cedric Varcoe at Tali Gallery Creation Story by Cedric Varcoe at Tali Gallery









Cedric was born in Adelaide in 1984 with strong family connection to Raukkan and Point Pearce.

His language group and tribe is Narangga Ngarrindjeri. He started painting at about 8, watching his sisters and mother, aunties and uncles, with his preferred subjects being lizards, snakes and men hunting. He has painted over a period of about 15 years.

In 2008, he completed a mural in one of the cells at the Port Pirie Police Station, hoping to inspire young people who have been arrested, to try to help them to have a better outlook on life, to think that they might be able to paint and express themselves creatively.

He has won the Port Pirie Art Prize in 2009 and 2010 as well as more recently in 2013, the Malka Art Prize.

Cedric has been exhibiting since 1997, including participation in the Men of the Ngarrindjeri Exhibitions in t he Murray Bridge Regional Gallery and the Frankston Art Centre in Victoria, Our Mob exhibitions touring throughout South Australia, and the Mpurlaarra Artists’ Group Exhibition at Tandanya among others.

Cedric’s work is included in private collections and he has also been commissioned to create artworks for businesses.   He is always keen to share his culture and help non Indigenous Australians to better understand his people’s history and connection to country.


Cedric VarcoeCedric VarcoeCedric Varcoe