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Kurtal

Story:Before Kurtal turned into an ancestral snake being and entered the 'living water' or permanent spring that bears his name, he was a man. In the words of Kurtal boss Ngilpirr Spider Snell: 'A big rain came. After the rain, grasses started to grow. From the grass Kurtal turned into a man.'

'Kurtal travelled to Jintirripil, a jila near the sea, who asked him to stay for good. Tricking him, Kurtal agreed. Jintirripil told Kurtal to find the jila Paliyarra, who had stolen his sacred objects.

'Paliyarra knew that Kurtal had come to steal back Jintirripil’s objects. He told Kurtal he didn’t have them but Kurtal could see the lightning flashing inside him. Paliyarra set his dogs onto Kurtal. Badly bitten, Kurtal tripped over Paliyarra, who spilled the objects on the ground. Kurtal kicked them towards his jila.

'Kurtal stole more objects from other jila, then went to visit his friend Kaningarra. Kaningarra asked Kurtal to stay with him there forever. Tricking him, Kurtal agreed, saying, "You lie down over there and I’ll lay down here.” Kaningarra went into the ground, turning into a snake, and Kurtal took off for his country.

'Getting weak, Kurtal crawled inside his waterhole with all his stolen objects and turned into a snake.

'That’s the song "Kurtal wanyjurla wanyjurla" we sing. He sent up a kutukutu [rain bearing cloud] like the ones I made at Kurtal.'

This is Kurtal's song:

'In the north-west I saw leaping fish sparkling in the sunlight. Carrying the sacred object I wade through the water. The waves carry me down to the depths. In the north-west I saw a seagull. The seagull was speaking. I saw lightning flickering in the north; I was the rain cloud. I am Kurtal. I bring the meat and make the country fruitful. The wind is wild, the lightning flickers in the sky. Up there Kaningarra is crying. The wind roars. I am Kaningarra, the great rock. Look to the south. That flat ground is sloping now. Who is that coming after me? I am a maparn [magic man] but I’m losing my powers. Look to the west. See his headdress.' (Ngilpirr Spider Snell)

Media Creator:Tim Acker

Media date: 2008
Story Location: Kurtal

Media Description:Kids all ready to perform Kurtal. Majarrka Workshop at Ngumpan Community.

Story contributor(s):Karen Dayman, Monique La Fontaine, Ngilpirr Spider Snell

Art Centre(s): Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0001

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.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.

Kiki and the pearl shell

Story:From the Dreamtime, [the ancestral hero] Kiki was coming from the sky, looking for a place to live. He came down near Paruku and went down in the water. 'Kiki felt hungry after travelling a long way and made plants and put them round everywhere. He made the plants grow. Plants you can grind to make flour, seeds, little grapes, some healing stuff too. He put all them frogs that people eat, bandicoots, blue tongue lizards, animals that used to live out there. What we still eat today is from that old fella. 'Kiki had a white stone in the Dreamtime and he tried to hide it in that big lake. But it kept on floating up. Bandicoot man came along and found that thing floating in the water. He stole it and threw it in the ocean near Broome. From there it turned into a pearl shell. That’s why Broome is rich with pearl shells. It [the pearl shell] started from Paruku. It didn’t want to hide.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox and Putuparri Tom Lawford, Ngumpan, 2008)

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Paruku (Lake Gregory)

Media Description:Men, women and children from Billiluna and Mulan communities perform dances for the ancestral creation being Kiki, who created the food and animals in the Country surrounding Paruku (Lake Gregory).

Story contributor(s):Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Putuparri Tom Lawford

Art Centre(s): Paruku Indigenous Protected Area
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0005

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.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.

Kumpupirntily

Story:Nyayurnangalku [cannibal beings] live below the surface of the lake in a world lit by its own sun. The Nyayurnangalku are said to resemble people, except for their large fangs and the long curved fingernails they use to catch and hold their victims. They block the wind as they move across the lake in search of human prey. Aboriginal people only travel past the lake when the wind is blowing. When boomerang-shaped clouds called wilany appear in the sky, it is a sign that the Ngayurnangalku are approaching. Aboriginal people are also careful not to light fires near Kumpupirntily, in case it signals their presence to the Ngayurnangalku. The cannibals’ own fires are scattered across the surface of the lake. An immensely powerful force lies at the centre of the lake. Aboriginal people believe it is capable of pulling planes and helicopters down from the sky, and they avoid flying directly over the area. During the Dreamtime an important gathering of Ngayurnangalku took place at Kumpupirntily. They came from Natawalu (Well 40) and Yunpu in the north, from Mundiwindi in the west, and from the country around Kiwirrkurra in the east. They came to decide whether or not they should continue to live as cannibals. Jeffrey James continues the story: 'Everybody agrees: alright we better stop eating the peoples. Then that night there was a baby [girl] born from that other group [eastern mob] … And they asked the newborn baby, and she said no: "We can still carry on and continue eating peoples." But [western] mob said "No, we’re not going to touch."' Following the baby, one group continued to be cannibals, dividing the Ngayurnangalku forever into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The bad people remained at Kumpupirntily, but the good were kept safe by ‘bodyguards’. 'The bodyguards were saving all the people. Sandhill in the middle of the lake separates good people and bad people.' Painting Catalogue Number: JB/DS/73/MM, BA/194/MM, PR/198/MM, PR/212/MM

Media Creator:Painting by Yunkurra Billy Atkins, Photo by Ross Swanborough

Media date: 2008
Story Location: Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment)

Media Description:It’s dangerous, that Country. I’ve seen that [cannibal] man, he’s there and I know it. I don’t know how white people go over there. If they were to run into him he would eat them straight out. Kumpupirntily, that’s a no good place … leave it alone and have nothing to do with it at all. Just leave it how it is.' (Yunkurra Billy Atkins)

Story contributor(s):Jeffrey James, Yunkurra Billy Atkins, John Carty, Clifford Brooks

Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: Yunkurra Billy Atkins, Ross Swanborough
Source: CSROH_17B
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0006

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.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.

Majarrka juju

Story:Majarrka is the name of a sacred ceremonial totem carved from the riymangurru tree. Riymangurru trees grow near Paruku [Lake Gregory] and around Yunpu. They are a hardwood used to make weapons and digging sticks. Majarrka is part of the law and Dreaming associated with the riymangurru tree and it has its own song and ceremony. The contemporary story performed in Majarrka juju [song and dance] has evolved out of this traditional ceremony but is based on a true event. It tells the story of two law bosses, Ned Cox’s father’s father, Wurtuwaya, and Tom Lawford’s mother’s grandfather, Wirrali, both of whom are now deceased. Wurtuwaya and Wirrali were travelling around near Paruku as wanya [‘featherfoot’, sorcerers wielding a similar power to maparn but whose work is concerned with payback rather than healing]. They were looking for their sacred Majarrka totem, which had been stolen from Jarrkurti, a place not far from Jalyirr and Yunpu, by a group of men who were performing their own ceremony with it. The men were dancing with the totem when Wurtuwaya and Wirrali found them. The two men were hiding as wanya as they watched the men perform. When the men turned their backs, the two bosses snuck in and retrieved the Majarrka totem. In Majarrka juju the dancers who wear the long headdresses (pukurti) represent the men who stole the Majarrka totem. The two dancers with the flat-topped headdresses (kumunungku) represent the bosses, Wurtuwaya and old Wirrali. 'I want to tell a story about this little stick, this one, kana [digging stick]. Long time ago kartiya [white people] been digging with [iron] bar, long way down, might be 200 feet [to make the Canning Stock Route wells]. Kana, kuturu [large hitting stick used for fighting] and makura [deep coolamon or wooden dish used for carrying water], all to get water in my language. 'This tree and me we been born in the same Country, the one Country. He’s got a meaning this tree. This is the tree now, the meaning. He got the culture, Majarrka. Riymangurru tree from Lake Gregory. That’s the tree, that Majarrka.' (Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, 2007) In this story Yanpiyarti Ned Cox draws a parallel between the sinking of the Canning Stock Route wells and the digging out of waterholes. The traditional hardwood tools and coolamons used to dig and scoop out mud are often made from trees that have important laws and ceremonies associated with them, as is also the case with Majarrka.

Media Creator:Tim Acker

Media date: 2008
Story Location: Paruku (Lake Gregory), Ngumpan

Media Description:Majarrka dancers get dressed and painted up at Majarrka Workshop at Ngumpan Community.

Story contributor(s):Yanpiyarti Ned Cox, Putuparri Tom Lawford, Monique La Fontaine, Karen Dayman

Art Centre(s): Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Ngurra Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0002

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.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.

Rover Thomas and his Brother

Story:Rover Thomas is one of Australia's most important artists - his paintings sparked a greater appreciation of Aboriginal art, both nationally and internationally.

Although he found fame as an East Kimberley artist Rover was a desert man, and the story of his life is interwoven with that of the Canning Stock Route. Rover was born in the 1920s in the Country near the middle stretch of the stock route. After his parents passed away he was picked up by a drover, Wally Dowling, who took him north to Billiluna and the Kimberley. Rover became a stockman himself. He was married and settled in Turkey Creek.

When Rover was taken by drovers his brother, Charlie Brooks (Clifford Brooks' father) was away travelling. When he returned Rover was gone. Charlie set off in search of his brother from Martilirri (Well 22). On his journey he encountered a horrible scene somewhere near Well 41:

'[My father] went looking for his young brother Rover back in his home Country, but nothing, empty. No track. Only track was a wagon wheel and yawarta (horse) and bullock, that's all... He been get up on a sandhill and he been look down... whitefella, massacre. They been got shot: [Aboriginal] men, women and children.' (Clifford Brooks)

'That old fella [Clifford’s father, Charlie], he knew in his heart that his young brother was still alive. Every time in the camp fire he used to tell me … 'My young brother is still alive somewhere up north.'' (Clifford Brooks)

Charlie Brooks and Rover Thomas were finally reunited in the 1980s, a lifetime later, after family recognised the Rover’s face in a newspaper. Charlie Brooks travelled to see his brother again for the first time, Clifford Brooks describes the intial encounter between the brothers:

'So when he arrived I got him off the bus at night, took him across to the car park. My old man was standing up and I took Rover across, and they didn’t know whether to yampulkaku [hug] or shake hand, they been cry. But I stood in the back there, I had tears coming out my eyes. I cried for them.' (Clifford Brooks)

'You have got to come back to your Country. You should have come through the Canning Stock Route. You went away from here through the stock route and you should have come back here, through the stock route. I’ve been waiting for you.' (Charlie Brooks to Rover Thomas, 1986)

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Wiluna
-26.59/120.22

Media Description:Clifford Brooks tells story his father's reunion with his younger brother Rover Thomas after 40 years apart.

Story contributor(s):Clifford Brooks, John Carty, Jarntu Rover Thomas, Charlie Brooks

Art Centre(s): Birriliburu Artists
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Source: CSROH_140_Clifford Brooks
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0007

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.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.

Natawalu: the Helicopter Story

Story:Many of the people from the Western Desert followed the stock route out of the desert once the drovers began moving through the Country. Following the stock route to find things beyond the desert, many people settled in cattle stations or missions.

However, in 1957 'Helicopter' Tjungurrayi left the desert in a very different way. As a child he was seriously ill when a mining survey party landed their helicopter near his community near Natawalu. His mother’s sister Kupunyina (Kumpaya Girgaba’s mother) was also suffering from an ulcerated spear wound. Knowing about the mission at Balgo their relatives encouraged the survey crew to take them for medical attention.The kartiya [white people] flew him Balgo to get medical attention. When he failed to return his family travelled north in groups to find him.
 
First Walapayi then Brandy walked north to Balgo. Both eventually returned south, following the stock route wells, to bring their relatives back with them to the mission. Helicopter Tjungurrayi has been known by this name for so long, he can no longer remember what he was called before.

'My young brother [Helicopter] was so sick; he had sores everywhere and he was helpless, a little boy. I grabbed my little brother and showed them. So kartiya [white people] looked at his sores and said, "OK, we’ll take him", because he was so sick. So I asked the kartiya, "Are you going to bring him back?" He was speaking his language and I was speaking my language. I kept on saying, "Are you going to bring him back?" I waited, waited, waited for long and I wondered, "They’re not bringing him back!" Nothing. It was getting a bit longer, and I said to myself, I think I’ll go after him north. From there I kept walking right, long way, all the way to Balgo.' (Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi, 2007)

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Natawalu (Well 40)
-21.66779/125.78843

Media Description:Josephine Nangala recounts the first time she saw a helicopter, and the story of Helicopter Joey Tjungarrayi being taken by helicopter to Balgo for medicine.

Story contributor(s): John Carty, Helicopter Joey Tjungurrayi, Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi, Josephine Nangala

Art Centre(s): Warlayirti Artists
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0004

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.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.

Camels and Poison

Story:Papunya Tula artist Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi recalled that while camping at Kukapanyu as a young man he came across the tracks of a drover’s camel. Sharpening his spear, he fitted it with barbs and followed the tracks. He found the camel near Wajaparni (Well 38) and speared it. Then he cut the meat into pieces with a stone knife and prepared it for cooking.

Walapayi cooked the meat and took some steaks to the camp of relatives nearby. Then he brought them back to where the camel had been cooked.

'So everybody had a share of meat. I grabbed myself a shoulder blade and the rest was for the others.'

After they’d feasted, his relatives kept travelling east. Walapayi and his nephew headed west towards the Canning Stock Route, in search of more camels.

Instead of camels, Walapayi and his nephew found the tracks of white men, horses and bullocks. They also found a can of tinned meat. After eating it, Walapayi’s nephew became deathly ill. The two men were convinced the meat had been deliberately poisoned.

'He felt so funny and he was shaking like he was cold and even his voice sounded funny. He couldn’t speak properly, he was lying down mumbling. He was feeling helpless. He couldn’t move so I start fixing him up with maparn [healing power]. I did all that work on him and then I made a big fire and left him, ’cos he was feeling cold.' (Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi, 2007)

The next day Walapayi went hunting. As the meat was cooking.

'I heard a noise, from nowhere, going: "BOOOYI! BOOOYI! Here I am!" And I said to myself, "It’s a ghost coming! I left that man back there dead, poisoned. He’s come back alive as a ghost! He’s going to spear me!" I said to him, "There’s some meat in there, you can have the other half". So he went and got the leg, the ghost did.

And I asked him, "Are you alright?" And he answered me, "I’m OK. I’m really good and better". So he wasn’t a ghost. So we started to go together walking. So we walked all the way to Lurlur and I told all the men what happened. They thought I was alright, but I was really sick from eating that poison. It was law time and I couldn’t go next to the ladies because I was on my business. But the other bloke went and told the ladies: "We’ve eaten poison. I was dead. But my uncle Walapayi fixed me". Then all the men start singing to bring me out. Corroboree.' (Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi, 2007)

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)



Media Creator:Clifford Brooks

Media date: 2007
Story Location: Wajaparni (Well 38)
-21.95089/125.53391

Media Description:Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi heals a patient with his maparn at Well 36.

Story contributor(s):Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi, Jeffrey James

Art Centre(s): CSR Project
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: Clifford Brooks
Source: CSROH_12_Charlie Wallabi_Walapayi_Tjungurrayi
Accession ID:20131024_FORM_MIRA_B0046_0003

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.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.

Bill Snell - The Reconditioning

Story:After three drovers were killed at Lipuru (Well 37) in 1911, the stock route was barely used again for 20 years. Left to the elements, the wells fell into disrepair. By 1917 more than half had been vandalised or destroyed by Aboriginal people, making it nearly impossible for the stock route to be used by drovers until 1930 when repairs were completed. In 1926 another Royal Commission into beef prices recommended that the stock route be reopened. And so, three years later, William Snell was employed to recondition the wells. He was extremely critical of Canning’s wells. Snell saw few people south of Well 17, but from Wells 17 to 51 he reported large groups of up to 300 Aboriginal people, who depended on the stock route waters. The wells leached water out of important native soaks, and Aboriginal people had often been injured, or even killed, trying to obtain water from them.  Snell felt that Canning’s failure to ensure Aboriginal people had access to these waters had seriously injured relations between them and the white men, resulting in the killing of the first drovers and the deliberate destruction of wells. Snell began to fit ladders to the wells in the populated areas, but he ran out of materials at Well 35. In 1930 Alfred Canning, by then nearly 70, was called on to complete the job. Interestingly, Canning reported a number of hostilities on this trip, where Snell had experienced none. William Snell reconditioned the stock route wells in 1929 and was highly critical of their impact on traditional waters and on the Aboriginal people who relied on them. But he paid a heavy price for criticising Canning: publicly ridiculed and accused of incompetence, he eventually went into self-imposed exile on his pastoral station near Weld Springs (Well 9) and became an eccentric recluse. Snell had been a remarkable character in his own right. He once rode a bicycle about 2000 kilometres from Adelaide to Menzies in the Western Australian goldfields, before there was any road to use. He later moved to Leonora with an Afghan hawker’s van and set up a shop; within six months he had become mayor of the town. Before Snell arrived water had been sold from a cart, so he established a permanent town water supply. In 1908 the Bulletin described Leonora as ‘the most precocious small town in Australia’: it had electric lights, electric trams, a fire brigade and a steam tram that ran to the mine. But Snell was dissatisfied with his life there, and left to establish a property south of Lake Nabberu. He later ran a butcher shop in Wiluna before setting up his own station near Weld Springs. Snell was also a good friend of drover Wally Dowling, who called in to see him in 1942: ‘I saw him alright. I found his head about of a mile from his camp, and the rest of him at the camp.’ Snell had died of natural causes, but by the time Wally found him, Snell’s own dogs had begun to eat him. Wally, who was prone to exaggeration, claimed that he conveyed the news of Snell’s death to Wiluna by smoke signal.

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Lipuru (Well 37)
-22.15497/125.45911

Media Description:After three drovers were killed at Lipuru (Well 37) in 1911, the stock route was barely used for 20 years. Left to the elements, the wells fell into disrepair. By 1917 more than half had been vandalised or destroyed by Aboriginal people, making it nearly impossible for the stock route to be used by drovers until 1930 when repairs were completed.

Art Centre(s): Other
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:DATE_FORM_MIRA_B0098_0004

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.

The Legend of John Forrest

Story:Sir John Forrest was Western Australia’s first premier. But he had first won fame as an explorer. In 1874 Forrest and his party stopped at a water source called Palarji, which he named Weld Springs. It would later become Well 9. They stayed there for two weeks. On the party’s 13th day at Weld Springs, violence broke out. According to Forrest, a group of 40–60 men, armed and painted, attacked his party. Forrest’s men fired on them, wounding some of the men. 'The natives seem determined to take our lives, and therefore I shall not hesitate to fire on them should they attack us again.' (John Forrest, 1874) At Palarji, Forrest built a fort to protect himself. It can still be seen today. He later claimed that the attackers were trying to drive his party away because it had occupied the spring for too long. But Aboriginal people tell a very different story about what happened at Palarji. 'John Forrester – this is where he used to hide himself or something like that, sit down here and people used to come in for water here in this spring and I think he rode with a camel, came to Number … 9 Well I think. And people used to live in this place and he sort of come in with a camel and … I don’t know what he was doing but he got funny with the people or might be Martu got funny with them whitefella and ah, he start, he start using a gun shootin’ em. Shooting all the Martu round here.' (Anga Friday Jones, 2007) Whatever happened at Palarji, this first conflict had a profound impact on Martu people. John Forrest has come to symbolise white cruelty, being attributed to acts of cruelty, and later killings, which he could not possibly have committed.

Media Creator:Nicole Ma

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Palarji [Well 9]

Media Description:Martu elders Anga Friday Jones at Forrest’s fort and Billy Patch (Mr P) in Wiluna describe the attack at Palarji (Well 9).

Story contributor(s):Billy Patch (Mr. P), Anga Friday Jones

Art Centre(s): Other
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Source: CSROH_02_Anga_Friday_Jones
Accession ID:DATE_FORM_MIRA_B0098_0005

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.

Wirnpa

Story:Wirnpa the proper boss. Rich. Too many money. Kartiya [white people] can’t get that. We got snake, jila. Can’t touch.' (Jawarta Donald Moko, 2007) Wirnpa was one of the most powerful of the jila men and the last to travel the desert before entering the jila, which bears his name, becoming a snake. Wirnpa’s adventures are celebrated in songs and stories of many language groups. Today, many of these people worry about proposals to mine the country around Wirnpa. Wirnpa was a rainmaker and the last of the jila men to walk around the desert in the Jukurrpa (the Dreamtime). After travelling far from his home, Wirnpa came back to search for his many children only to discover that they had already died. They had laid down and turned into the waterholes of the Percival Lakes. Wirnpa wept for his children and then turned into a snake and entered the waterhole that bears his name. Aboriginal people from language groups across the Western Desert know Wirnpa jila, even if they’ve never been there. The jila lies in Yulparija Country, but as a man Wirnpa travelled such great distances that the songlines which describe his journeys connect him to many groups. As an ancestral hero, Wirnpa is the keeper of different laws and ceremonies, and Aboriginal people from multiple language groups consider the place where he rests a sacred site. Jila like Wirnpa are formidable places, which can be dangerous if they are not approached properly. Aboriginal people enter jila sites ritually, sweeping the ground with branches, and approaching in single file. Elders call out to Wirnpa, announcing their arrival and introducing people who are new to the jila. For many senior people the experience of returning to their Country is highly emotional. 'Jila might make kartiya sick, make a big wind. We been tell him, “Don’t get wild, we all one family for you.”' (Jawarta Donald Moko, 2009) When the people who belonged to Wirnpa left the desert, some went north and eventually settled at Balgo, Mulan, Fitzroy Crossing, Wangkatjungka, Looma, Broome and Bidyadanga. Others went south and settled at Jigalong, Newman, Punmu, Parnngurr and Kunawarritji. Others still went east to Yuendumu and Papunya. Until recently, some of these people had never had the chance to return to their Country but today many people are taking their children and grandchildren to see Wirnpa for the first time. The songlines that pass through Wirnpa travel underground, imbuing the Country with power. The responsibility for these songs, and for the Country itself, is passed down from one generation to the next. Aboriginal people belong to the Country and are its caretakers; when they die, their spirit returns to their Country.

Media Creator:Curtis Taylor

Media date: 2010
Story Location: Wirnpa

Media Description:Martu elders bring their grandchildren to Wirnpa for the first time in 2009.

Story contributor(s):Jawarta Donald Moko, Monique La Fontaine

Art Centre(s): Yulparija Artists, Martumili Artists
Publisher: FORM
Media copyright: FORM
Accession ID:DATE_FORM_MIRA_B0098_0002

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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