Northern Lights: A season with NT Thunder

Bradley Palipuaminni of the NT Thunder

The Almanac is hosting a screening of this documentary produced and directed by Alastair McGibbon at the All Nations Hotel on Thursday, September 20. Please RSVP to [email protected]

For one of the Northern Territory’s favourite sons, being an indigenous Australian rules football legend is not enough. Michael Long has always wanted to do more for his people, especially the “Territory kids”. In 2009, Long used his influence with government and the private sector to found NT Thunder, an Australian rules football team for talented indigenous players from across the Territory. NT Thunder is not just a football team, it is a concept. A programme created to be a pathway to assist talented players from remote communities, to facilitate their personal development and potentially help them make it to the national AFL.  The strict rule is however, if you want to play in this team, you must be either working or studying.

Based in Darwin with Aboriginal players making up 60 per cent, we follow NT Thunder’s 2011 season, as they travel more than 100,000 kilometres to play interstate in the north eastern state league.  A competition where remote indigenous players have the opportunity to play against professional listed players in the reserves teams of national AFL clubs, the Brisbane Lions, the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants.

Northern Lights is a story about what can be achieved when the objectives are far greater than simply winning, and the potential for football to have a positive impact on young indigenous lives. The power of football to be a catalyst for Australians, black and white, to truly come together as one.

Northern Lights Features: Michael Long and Andrew McLeod, AFL Indigenous Legends, Murray Davis, NT Thunder Head Coach, Ross ‘Rocco’ Tungatalum and Bradley Palupuaminni from Bathurst Island, Carlos Barurrawanga from Elcho Island, Wally Gallio and Brenton Toy, NT Thunder junior coaches, Charlie King, ABC Radio Darwin and original footage of past Northern Territory AFL indigenous greats. Narration by Colin Friels (Tom White, Water Rats, BlackJack) with original music by Antony Partos (Mabo, The Slap, Animal Kingdom). Duration is 52 minutes.

Production Company: Dusty Road Films



  1. Get around this! :)

  2. Highly recommended, should be a great night.

    Alastair staged a premiere of the film at a theatre in Darwin a couple of weeks ago, to great reviews. Will be rgeat to see it here in Melbourne.

    Alastair will be here, will be happy to take questions on life in remote communities, the Thunder footy team and players likely to be drafted, and his own adventure taking a 6-month sabbatical from banking in Sydney to go and make the film in the NT.

    Well worth Knackers getting along.

  3. I’m looking forward to this. The film has received really strong reviews. It will be a ripper night.

    We hear lots of good stuff about the NT Thunder from some of our writers, especially Tavis Perry (AFL community man), Joc Ledwidge (on the board) and Jackson Clark.

    If you’d like to come please RSVP to me [email protected]

  4. Edwin Cowlishaw says

    I was lucky enough to be invited to the premiere of Northern Lights in Darwin and what a stirring event it was. I called a lot of the games that season and to see a side come together from all parts of the Territory was truly amazing! To then go on and win both the northern conference grand final and the cross conference grand final just showed what a wonderful club and organisation the NT Thunder Football Club have become.

    The sooner this documentary gets to DVD or perhaps picked up by one of the networks the better, for fans of the game who crave knowledge of outback footballers kicking goals on the big stage.

    Good luck to the lads in 2013!

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