A portrait of life thrown into crisis by energy insecurity 

Sydney, Australia: Carriageworks is proud to present Garuwa: Power to Country, an intimate journey into the life of Garrwa woman Shirley Simon captured in a powerful short film, from 28 June to 21 July. 

Displaced by global climate shifts and a lack of stable power, Shirley was forced to leave her family’s homeland on a beautiful island in remote Northern Territory. Her refuge – the nearby town of Borroloola – faces its own energy crisis.  As a strong matriarch, Shirley wants to ensure her descendants are connected to their country and culture, and community-owned solar power might just be the solution she needs to return home.  

“Solar power will bring light and life to my family’s homeland and help us return to look after our special Saltwater Country.”  

Shirley Simon, Mumuthumburru Homeland 

As Australia transitions to renewable energy, First Nations communities experiencing extreme energy insecurity are at risk of being left behind. To combat this, Power to Country is connecting a network of First Nations people with sustainable energy solutions. The community of Borroloola, with the support of GARUWA, Original Power and Ngardara Project, are working to return Shirley to her family’s homelands, on the beautiful West Island in the Northern Territory’s Gulf of Carpentaria. 

The exhibition will also feature two original illustrations by Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Warumungu and Warlmanpa designer, Oumoula McKenzie. On Saturday 6 July at 12pm, Carriageworks will host a free public talk with filmmaker and GARUWA co-founder, Genevieve Grieves, and Ngardara Cooperative Director, Scott McDinny, as they discuss renewable energy solutions and enabling First Nations Peoples to stay connected to Country. 

Power to Country will be exhibited at Carriageworks from 28 June – 21 July. Admission is free. 



Image credit: Shirley Simon at Mumathumburru (West Island)
Power to Country (film still) 2023
Cinematographer: Ryan Andrew Lee