About Peter Santo
Peter was born in Southport on the Gold Cost as a Yugambeh man. The Yugambeh people are a tribe of Australian Aboriginal people who inhabit an area in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales, now within the Logan City, Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, and Tweed City regions.
When Peter turned 17, he was disheartened with living in the city and he hitchhiked to North West Queensland and has been working with the First Nation people from then on. Peter started working with communities in the late 70’s working on a station, railway, and rebuilding houses in various communities along with the local Aboriginal Elders.
It is at this time that he saw some elders cleaning and making Digeridoos. Peter says, “He felt drawn to the digeridoos, and how they were made”.
He asked permission from the elders to make digeridoos, who then showed him the way. Peter has been making digeridoos ever since.
Peter spent 11 years travelling through Europe and Ireland going to festivals and selling didgeridoos. Peter would arrange shipping containers of raw materials to be shipped to Europe so that he could make authentic didgeridoos.
Peter is now based out of North Queensland, and is keen to transfer his skills and knowledge of didgeridoo making to the next generation. Every didgeridoo he makes, is another opportunity to teach the young indigenous people more about their heritage and traditional craft.
His didgeridoos are made from traditionally sourced seasoned timber from the land. Tree species include Silver Leaf Ironbark from North Queensland, Boxwood, grey Boxwood, Woolly Butt, Bloodwood and many others. Before scavenging for wood, Peter gives "thanks” to the tree spirits for guidance and spirits of the land for a good cut of didgeridoo to harvest. When harvesting a tree, the tree is cut low or at ground height, so the tree reshoots again. This is called stunted regrowth; the continuous sustainability of our land.”
Why does he make them? - He loves the handcrafting and the sound of the Didgeridoo! More importantly he does this work because of cultural pride and building self-confidence in the Aboriginal community.
He paints with ochre and mixes his own paints from soils and rocks from the land. To decide on design, he works with the natural curves of the wood to inspire him.