State memorial service announced for Archie Roach in Melbourne

The memorial will take place at Sidney Myer Music Bowl next month

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has confirmed that a state memorial will take place in Melbourne next month for late Gunditjmara and Bundjalung singer-songwriter Archie Roach.

Roach died aged 66 in July of this year at a hospital in Warrnambool, surrounded by family and friends after a period of “long illness”. The legendary songwriter, storyteller and activist’s death prompted an outpouring of tributes with the likes of Briggs, Birdz, Alice Skye, Barkaa, Goanna‘s Shane Howard, Amy Shark, Gang of Youths, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and many more all honouring his enormous life, career and legacy.

Now, Andrews has announced that a state memorial service for Roach will he be held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on December 15. In a statement shared to social media, the Premier shared an often-recounted tale about one of Roach’s early shows.


“In 1990, before the release of his first album, Archie Roach played a set to open for Paul Kelly at Hamer Hall. It was a huge step up from the small gigs he’d been playing,” Andrews wrote. “As he finished his final track, he heard nothing. He thought he’d bombed. As Archie turned to walk off stage, a wave of applause took over the hall.

“‘Took The Children Away’ had left the audience in stunned silence. From then, everything changed. His debut album would become a massive hit, and his music would change our state forever. We’ve lost him now, but we’re going to have one last gig for Archie,” Andrews concluded. “And I reckon it’s going to be unforgettable.”

According to Andrews, more details on the service, including ticketing, will be published here as they are finalised. The service will also be live-streamed for those who are unable to attend in person.

In late August, Archie Roach was honoured with a public tribute through the streets of Collingwood, Fitzroy and St. Kilda, his sons Amos and Eban leading a funeral procession. They invited all to “join and pay your respects to Archie’s journey home”, as he was ultimately laid to rest in Warrnambool. Hundreds of family, friends and fans of Roach’s turned out to pay their respects


Last month, it was announced that a statue of both Roach and the late Ruby Hunter – Roach’s musical collaborator and life partner – would be raised in Fitzroy. Hunter and Roach met in 1973, and remained companions until Hunter’s passing at age 54 in 2010.

Roach released debut solo album ‘Charcoal Lane’ in May of 1990, with the record going on to become one of the most pivotal in Australian music history. It quickly earned Gold certification, and won two awards at the 1991 ARIAs – Best New Talent and Best Indigenous Release.

Roach would go on to release many more albums over the next three decades. In 2015, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the performing arts and to the community for his activism and pursuit of social justice.

30 years after its initial release, Roach re-recorded ‘Charcoal Lane’ in its entirety for his 10th (and final) studio album, ‘The Songs Of Charcoal Lane’, which arrived in 2020. He won eight ARIA Awards in his lifetime, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.