Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly on a stage seated in front of microphones and playing their guitars.

From Little Things Big Things Grow

From Little Things Big Things Grow

An iconic Australian protest song
 Nick Henderson

Warning: this article contains names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


The Tale of Vincent Lingiari

From Little Things Big Things Grow has become an iconic Australian protest song, paying tribute to the Gurindji people, and becoming symbolic of the broader movement for Indigenous equality and land rights in Australia.

Written by prominent Australian singer-songwriters Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, the lyrics chart the Gurindji people’s struggle for land rights. The song tells the story of the Wave Hill Walk-Off in 1966, through to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam symbolically handing their land back eight years later – an event which become a catalyst for the Aboriginal land rights movement.

Excerpt from Blood Brothers – From Little Things Big Things Grow (Trevor Graham, Australia, 1993) in which Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly discuss the song. NFSA title: 250884.

Legacy and Recognition

Following its initial release in 1991 by Paul Kelly and The Messengers, and Carmody’s version in 1993, it has been covered and reinterpreted by many performers and groups, including John Butler, The Waifs and The GetUp Mob.

In 2010 ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ was added to the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia registry. In 2014 we received a donation of Paul Kelly’s master audio material from the 1970s to the present.


Main image: Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly on stage, c 2012.