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Wally Dowling

Born: 1910
Died: 1959

Art Centre(s): Other

Biography: ‘They called him King of the Canning …’ (Jeffrey James, 2007).

Wally Dowling is probably the best-known drover in the Canning Stock Route’s history. Born in Northam in 1910, he began his droving apprenticeship in Meekatharra at age 14. He made the first of many trips down the stock route in about 1931, when it was reopened after reconditioning. His death in 1959 marked the end of droving on the stock route.

Wally Dowling’s colourful lifestyle appealed to the popular imagination, and he received a great many column inches in newspapers of the time. He inspired equally strong reactions among the Aboriginal people he worked with and encountered on the route — he was loved and loathed. Most of the artists, whose first encounters with white men took place on the stock route, vividly remember him.

A bush poet, and emergency dentist and doctor to his stockmen, Wally once set his own broken leg with a cast made of greenhide (untanned bullock skin). He extracted teeth by tying them with string to an iron bucket and dropping it down a well.

But Wally Dowling was also known as a hard man, with his revolver ‘Little Bertha’ always at the ready. He reputedly robbed many Aboriginal men of their wives, ‘He had his revolver all the time. No smile on him. He been a rough bloke, and he wanted a black woman’ (Anga Friday Jones, 2007).

In about 1941 Wally Dowling found a baby suckling its dead mother’s breast. One of his stockwomen fed the baby camel milk, and Wally named the infant Pelican because, ‘his beak could hold more than his stomach’. By the time he was 16, Pelican was Wally’s head stockman.

Wally found another child in 1953. Although initially unwilling to take him on, he changed his mind when the three-year-old put his arms around his neck. Wally named him Churchill. Wally’s son, Bob Stretch, grew up at Moola Bulla station with his mother, Lanyina.

According to Martumili artist Jeffrey James, boss drover Wally Dowling held his stockman, Ben Taylor, responsible for laying dingo baits on the stock route that led to the poisoning of Aboriginal people. Desert people believed that the baits had been deliberately laid in retaliation for their having hunted working camels. ‘They were chucking poison baits on this Canning [Stock Route]. So this youngfella here, Walapayi, he pick up the meat, poison bait. Soon as [head drover] Wally Dowling hear that people nearly died, he kicked Ben Taylor out for a while, ‘Never do that. Never!’ He used to chuck poison to the people, you know. Well, Walapayi pick up the bait anyway, and he nearly died’ (Jeffrey James, 2007).

Wally’s death in 1959 marked the end of the droving era on the Canning Stock Route. ‘Wally died in [Mistake] Creek; he had a bad flu. He went holiday with his camel. One of the tourists find that camel, took the hobbles off and ring to Billiluna, ‘Wally die!’ The camel walked all the way back. Halls Creek rang up, ‘Camel just going through!’ Next day, Ruby Plains rang up, ‘They on their way to Billiluna!’ I was there. I open the gate. That it. The road was closed. No more droving’ (Jeffrey James, 2007).

Photograph date: 1957
Photography copyright: © People Magazine
Format: Image
Source: Images - Multimedia + Sig Piece
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0100

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Jukuja Nora Tjookootja

Born: about 1940

Language Group(s): Wangkajunga
Community: Wangkatjungka
Art Centre(s): Ngurra Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
CSR Project role: Artist, contributor
Skin Group: Nyapajay
Totem: Nyuraly, insect that lizards and goannas eat
Country: Piparr

Biography: Jukuja was born at Piparr. Her mother worked as a cook with drovers on the stock route. Her father took her to Billiluna, where she was promised to her husband, Donkeyman Benny, from whom she learned the songs and stories for Kaningarra (Well 48), the site for which he was the last senior custodian. Today, Jukuja is one of the senior singers for this Country.

Photographer: Tim Acker
Photograph date: 2009
Photography copyright: © FORM
Format: Image
Source: Images - Catalogue
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0060

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Turnga Tossy Baadjo

Community: Balgo
Art Centre(s): Warlayirti Artists
CSR Project role: Artist, contributor
Skin Group: Nangala
Totem: Kangaroo
Country: Nyirla, Irrawili, Nyinmi

Biography: Hello, my name is Tossy Baadjo and I’m Nangala, and the story I’m going to tell is about what happened to my family when kartiya [white people] came and picked my families with the helicopter. I was born Irrawili [?] and then my parents would move around and then was came to that place was Natawalu, yeah [laughs]. Yeah, mmm. And my families saw helicopter was coming to, coming and they saw because my family didn’t know what helicopter was they were calling devil, kukurr, kukurr means devil, that helicopter, big monster. And they all ran and hide in the trees and Spinifex and then Brandy and my brother Tjapanangka was there in the photo, and uncle, Uncle Wimmitji and Uncle Miki, they was there and when that helicopter land at that swamp they all ran and got their spear and start throwing and throwing it to, they thought it was a monster. And my mother had to dig a hole and put me in the, underneath the Spinifex, because he was too scared to see a helicopter landed. They thought it, that helicopter gonna bite me and Melda, we was the smallest.

Photographer: Tim Acker
Photograph date: 2008
Photography copyright: © FORM
Format: Image
Source: Fieldtrip - Balgo May 08
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0085

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

John Carty

Art Centre(s): CSR Project
CSR Project role: Co-curator, anthropologist

Biography: John is an anthropologist who has worked extensively throughout the Western Desert and Kimberley regions. He was the principal researcher throughout the Ngurra Kuju Walyja project, and is co-curator of the exhibition Yiwarra Kuju. Some of his publications on Aboriginal art include Prettyone: the Art of Billy Atkins, and Ngaanyatjarra: Art from the Lands (with Tim Acker). He is currently Research Fellow at the Centre for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art, and is based at the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, Australian National University.

Photographer: Paul Elliot
Photograph date: 2007
Photography copyright: © Paul Elliott
Format: Image
Source: Images - Catalogue
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0103

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Nicole Ma

Art Centre(s): CSR Project
CSR Project role: Multimedia director & mentor

Biography: Based in Melbourne, Nicole Ma coordinates the Canning Stock Route Project’s multimedia output, the exhibition’s film productions, and mentors the CSR Project’s four Aboriginal multimedia practitioners. Nicole co-founded Bluehorse films in 1990 in New York, and the company went on to win a prestigious screenwriting award at the Sundance film festival. Nicole returned to Australia and was appointed Executive Producer of multimedia, for the inaugural exhibitions at the National Museum of Australia. Her documentaries Kurtal – Snake Spirit and Dances of Ecstasy have also won several awards.

Photographer: Ross Swanborough
Photograph date: 2008
Photography copyright: © Ross Swanborough
Format: Image
Source: Curators Meetings 2009
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0101

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Tim Acker

Art Centre(s): CSR Project
CSR Project role: Co-founder, photographer, executive project support

Biography: Tim has worked with desert artists and communities since 1999, firstly at Warlayirti Artists, followed by a variety of support and advocacy roles, with Indigenous art, cultural and community groups, organisations and businesses throughout northern, Central and Western Australia. Tim’s logistical work on the CSR Project has included bush trip organisation, art centre liaison, fund-raising assistance and being one of the main photographers.

Photographer: Paul Elliott
Photograph date: 2007
Photography copyright: © Paul Elliott
Format: Image
Source: Images - Catalogue
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0102

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Carly Davenport

Art Centre(s): CSR Project
CSR Project role: Co-founder, project manager (2007-2011), co-curator

Biography: With a passion for listening to stories and their connections between culture, innovation and the creative industries, Carly has engaged with Aboriginal artists and their enterprises throughout Australia since 1996. She has contributed to and led educational projects and programs at Munupi Arts (Tiwi Islands), Melbourne Museum, RMIT’s Centre for Design and the National Gallery of Australia. With FORM since 2005, she co-founded the Canning Stock Route Project in 2006. Carly enjoys the ‘magic of collaboration’ and as the Project’s team leader designed and managed its multi-disciplinary professional development programs, brokered diverse community and industry partnerships, and guided the development of the Yiwarra Kuju exhibition and associated outcomes in collaboration with the National Museum of Australia.

Photographer: Tim Acker
Photograph date: 2007
Photography copyright: © FORM
Format: Image
Source: 2 CSR Trip 22-25 July 07
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0104

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Monique La Fontaine

Art Centre(s): CSR Project
CSR Project role: Co-curator, project manager (2011-2013), content manager, production editor

Biography: An artist and writer, Monique has worked with Aboriginal artists and cultural leaders on cultural, arts and political advocacy projects since 1997, and was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Award in 2006 for New Legend [Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre]. As curator, content manager and production editor on the Canning Stock Route Project she has managed its artwork collection and digital archive since 2007, designed its Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property protocols and produced various project publications. Monique was a co-curator of Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route and curated its award-winning multimedia interactive One Road.

Photographer: Mollie Hewitt
Photograph date: 2013
Photography copyright: © FORM
Format: Image
Source: Repatriation_Kimberley_april_2013/FORM Camera
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0105

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Kurpaliny Bessie Doonday

Born: about 1940s

Language Group(s): Walmajarri
Community: Mulan
Art Centre(s): Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
CSR Project role: Artist, contributor
Skin Group: Napangarti
Totem: Ngapa
Country: Paruku, Lake Stretch

Biography: Bessie was born near Billiluna and worked at the old station before travelling to Fitzroy Crossing and Christmas Creek, where her brother Yanpiyarti Ned Cox was living. After returning to Balgo, Bessie’s father, Tiger, and brother, Rex Johns, began advocating for their people to return to Paruku and establish Mulan community.
My brother [Rex Johns] said, ‘We gotta keep the stories alive, the land alive’.

Photographer: Tim Acker
Photograph date: 2009
Photography copyright: © FORM
Format: Image
Source: Images - Catalogue
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0067

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Karntakarnta Billy Thomas

Born: about 1920
Died: Unknown

Language Group(s): Wangkajunga
Art Centre(s): Red Rock Gallery
CSR Project role: Artist, contributor
Skin Group: Jungurrayi

Biography: Karntakarnta Billy Thomas was born near Kulyayi (Well 42). It was while he was droving cattle on the Canning Stock Route that he first met Rover Thomas. They went on to work together and settle in the Kimberley, both of them finding fame late in life as Kimberley artists. Earlier Billy had worked as a police tracker, a traditional healer and a stockman — and had 12 children.

Photographer: Kevin Kelly
Photography copyright: © Kevin Kelly
Format: Image
Source: Images - Catalogue
Category: People
Accession ID: 20131016_FORM_MIRA_B0090_0074

Provenance: This material is sourced from Ngurra Kuju Walyja — the Canning Stock Route Project, which was initiated in 2006 by FORM and developed in partnership with Birriliburu, Kayili, KALACC, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

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