Arauco Libre was formed in November 1987. The band is comprised largely of political refugees who fled the Pinochet regime in Chile to exile in Tasmania in the late 1980’s. The name of the band refers to the indigenous people who spread across southern Chile and Argentina, whose culture and language are suppressed by the larger governments in which the group live. Hence the band’s name is a suitable political statement – “Freedom to the Araucanians”.

Performing live at the Salamanca Market every Saturday since 1987, the band plays music from the Andean region of South America (Northern Chile, Northern Argentina, Perú, Bolivia and Ecuador). This music includes folk, traditional, dance and carnival tunes. Traditional instruments such as the siku (pan pipes), quena (indigenous bamboo flute), bombo (drum), charango (ten string mandolin/guitar) and chakj’chas (shakers) are played by the band members.

Other live performances by the band include Launceston Festivale, Agfest, Cygnet Folk Festival, The Tulip Festival, Deloraine Craft Fair among other state events, and the National Folk Festival in Canberra. The band also performs at various government department functions and for private functions, e.g. conferences, weddings and birthdays.