Skip to content
  • 9am–5pm
  • Free general admission
  • Shop
Studio portrait photograph of William Barton.

Musician and composer
Queensland | 2023 Australian of the Year

William Barton is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, didgeridoo player and renowned classical composer. A Kalkadungu man, he learnt didgeridoo from his uncle and was so certain of his future in music that he left school at the age of 12.

William has since appeared in concert halls around the world, performing with orchestras, string quartets, rock musicians and his mother, singer, songwriter and poet, Delmae Barton. Despite having little formal musical training, he has recorded several albums and won multiple awards – and introduced the didgeridoo to new audiences.

I’m doing what I love. I want to take the oldest culture in the world and blend it with Europe’s rich musical legacy. I guess what I’m doing is giving back. Giving back to my culture and my people, because I was given something when I was very young and, like the old fellas who taught me years ago,
I’m just passing it on.


In 2022 William Barton debuted his newest work, Of the Earth. It marked the reopening of the Sydney Opera House and featured the Sydney Children’s Choir and the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir. The children used clapsticks made from wood salvaged from the Concert Hall stage during renovations. These clapsticks are William’s personal set from the performance.

A pair of cylindrical, wooden clapsticks with tapered ends, and bands of dark brown on the surface of the wood.

Clapsticks from William Barton

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

Return to Top