Reconciliation SA’s Productions and Events Coordinator Travis Akbar’s reflections on ‘Looky Looky, Here comes Cooky”.


For a long while now, Steven Oliver has been a regular on Australian TV screens in one way or another. Be it Black Comedy or Faboriginal, the wordsmith is captivating at all times, and that quality does not waver in new documentary, Looky Looky, Here comes Cooky.

Directed by Steven McGregor, whose credits include, Sweet Country, Black Comedy, Mystery Road and the Croker Island Exodus, this new take on James Cooke’s arrival, is a great excuse to sit down in front of the tube.

It is an ever-appropriate year for such a production, as 2020 marks the 250th anniversary to James Cook’s arrival, but is his arrival told the way it happened, or was some of the story cooked? Or as we like to term ”Truth Telling”.

This is the question asked by Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky, but in a very Steven Oliver way. What Oliver attempts to do throughout the film, is create a modern-day song line, Oliver says “Songlines should be a part of ‘Australian’ history as they’re taught in school”. A songline, as Oliver put’s it “details the creation of this land, and all that’s upon it”.

Oliver does this by working with renowned First Nations artists and musicians to craft modern songlines. A songline for the 21st century that can speak to the First Nations perspective behind James Cook’s arrival.

One of the musicians in particular that Oliver speaks and collaborates with is Daniel Rankine whom to some is better known by his rap moniker, Trials MC, from the Funkoars and A.B. Original.

For Rankine, this project is about the “continuation of knowledge. How we survived, and who we are”. He also discusses the history of the pre-colonial, and current home of Ngarrindjeri – Raukken – which is 150km East of Adelaide. Raukken is a beautiful place, and holds a lot of history, which Rankine speaks of with passion. He also recounts racist experiences as a youngster, at friend’s houses.

Oliver’s experience with Rankine is only one of several. He speaks with other artists, and musicians, Birdz (Butchulla Nation), Mo’Ju (Wiradjuri Nation), Alice Skye (Wergaia Nation),  Mau Power (Torres Strait islander Dhoebaw man of the Guda Malullgal Nations) and Uncle Kev Carmody (Bundjulung/Lama Nations) before each of them lend their musical talents to the film with a song. Oliver also interviews Elders, historians and more throughout the film, creating not only a beautiful film, but an informative one too.

The drone cinematography of Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky is also beautiful. Long sweeping shots of the coastlines, and landscapes by Leuke Marriot and Owen Andrews really enhance the films appearance.

Direction from Steven McGregor is also great. He is able to create a positive, and relaxed atmosphere, making this part-comedy, part-history documentary a joy to watch.

Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky is available to watch for free via the SBS On Demand streaming app.