Djambu Barra Barra was born in the bush near the Roper River. He spent most of his early life at his homelands at Nillipigee in Central Arnhem Land.
He first came in from the bush in his early 20s, when his Wagilak father, Ritharrngu mother and family sought limited contact with the wider non-Aboriginal community. About 20 years ago Barra Barra moved to live at Ngukurr with his wife, fellow artist Amy Jirwulurr Johnson, and their extended family.
Barra Barra began to paint in 1987, encouraged by an Adult Education program in Ngukurr community. He soon became one of the leading artists from Ngukurr because of his daring use of x-ray and cross-hatching bark painting styles painted in bright acrylics on canvases of monumental scale.
His earliest work Crocodile story was exhibited in the 4th National Aboriginal Art Award of 1987 and achieved widespread critical acclaim. In defiance of convention, the image refused to stay within the usual square format. The tail of the huge saltwater crocodile, splayed diagonally across a bright yellow ground, and broke through the edge of the picture plane.
Barra Barra held his first solo exhibition in 1991 at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, and has participated regularly in Ngukurr group exhibitions since 1988. His work was exhibited in Aratjara: Art of the First Australians, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany in 1993; Power of the Land: Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1994; and in Ngundungunya: art for everyone, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1997.