Northern Lights – a documentary worth catching

For the next ten days, a great Australian footy film is available on the SBS website.

Northern Lights is a documentary giving total behind the scenes access in the exciting roller-coaster 2011 season of NT Thunder, a senior Australian Rules football team that represents the Northern Territory. But NT Thunder is no ordinary team. Based in Darwin, 60 per cent of the team is indigenous with many players travelling thousands of kilometres every week from remote areas such as Bathurst Island, Alice Springs, Nhulunbuy, Jabiru and Katherine to play. NT Thunder plays in the north eastern states league clocking up more than 100,000 kilometres travelling interstate, pitting remote indigenous players against professional players from national AFL teams.

NT Thunder is the brainchild of Australian rules indigenous football legend, Michael Long. The strict rule is to play for NT Thunder all players must be either working or studying.

As NT Thunder endeavours to create history by winning the title in only its third season, we see the positive impact on the young players when national AFL indigenous legend Andrew McLeod, comes out of retirement to show them the way.

Northern Lights takes the viewer into the heart of remote Aboriginal communities and schools where football is not just something to do, it is a crucial part of community life.

After an event-filled season that included breaches of team discipline on alcohol and curfews, NT Thunder qualifies for the finals.

After winning a close and exciting semi-final to a sell-out crowd in Darwin, NT Thunder must make the 3,500 kilometre trip to Brisbane for the chance at Grand Final glory against arch rivals the Morningside Panthers.

You can view Northern Lights on SBS On Demand now, until 13 September.


  1. Jackson Clark says

    It was an entertaining documentary which gives people a terrific insight into football in the Top End. Keep and eye out for the Almanac’s own Tavis Perry who features regularly in the doco.


  2. Mark Duffett says

    I just caught up with this and really enjoyed it, thanks Almanac for bringing it to light. It certainly brought back some great memories of running the boundary in the NTFL and CAFL, and life generally in the Top End. I still reckon it’s a pity the Thunder are playing in the NEAFL rather than the SANFL, though – Darwin is closer to Adelaide than Brisbane!

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