Browse by

Browse by art centre

historical

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.

Murungkurr Terry Murray

Murungkurr Terry Murray - curating for Canning Stock Route Project [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Murungkurr Terry Murray talks about being an emerging curator for the Canning Stock Route Project.

Date: 2008-10-06
Art centre(s): Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_195_Murungkurr_Terry_Murray
Date: 2008-10-06

Cultural Protocols: Public Access
Access: Public
Full transcript: [What's your name? Skin group? Where are you from?]

Murungkurr Terry Murray: I’m Terry Murray, I’m from Fitzroy and my skin name is Jangala and I’m a Walmajarri. And my tribe is from the Great Sandy Desert. And … yeah.

[Talking about the CSR project]

TM: Yeah, I’ve been working on this project for FORM at the start of last year, September last year and we doing this young emerging curator course with FORM and trying to, trying to … I’m the young curator that I’m choosing all these different works of art that are from this seven different desert, from the Western Desert. Like from Wiluna right up to Billiluna, and it goes through …

[Did you go into the desert?]

TM: I didn’t go down the Canning Stock Route but I’ve been in the Great Sandy Desert, where my family from. But I was really interested in going on this trip but, yeah, too much work on to do back home.

[Talking about Tom Lawford and the CSR project?]

TM: And, yeah, I’ve been working closely with Tom Lawford. He’s one of our next T.O.’s – traditional owners, leaders. And yeah, we working together and … yeah he’s one of the top blokes. Oh in, professional development and what he do in his own time. He’s one of them traditional owners in the Fitzroy Crossing area. Yeah, but we’re working on this project through FORM, it’s the Canning Stock Route Project, it’s showing the history to the wider australia and all these other European countries throughout the world, where our people from the five different deserts … the five different deserts… the four different deserts in the Western Australia deserts.

[What about a little bit about yourself?]

TM: Well I work at a school in Fitzroy Crossing, district high school. I’m the youth support working, I go and try to bring kids to school and try to get a better education, and yeah, I like doing … yeah I’ve got a family of my own and I like to go hunting and fishing and, yeah. And I’m an artist as well, I do my own art. I’ve got three boys, yeah, seven, five and two. My partner’s from down Kalgoorlie way. She’s Wongai. And yeah, we live in Bayulu, Bayulu Community and … yeah it is really … I’m really happy that I’m in this group of people that I’m working with, the curating and FORM team, it’s helped me build my confidence throughout and, you know, looking at different art centres and different history and the four different language groups and yeah.

[Will you be carrying on with this work after the project?]

TM: Well yeah. I think I’ll be carrying on after doing this project and this curating team, I would like to go further to be really professional in what I do, in curating art and how, you know, and be working in somewhere you know, like really in that professional development.

[How do you feel you're going? (Professionally)]

TM: Well I feel like that I’ve been, yeah … I’m feeling that every time we meet I’m getting more and more skilled and information and getting more, you know, stronger in how I’m looking at Aboriginal art and how you learn about the history itself.

[How do you feel about the Beijing Olympics?]

TM: With the Beijing Olympics I think it’s the next stepping stone for the Canning Stock Route history that, you know, taking it to the Olympics, showing how that we are Indigenous people from that area and that Canning Stock Route … how to bring those cattle down and how he got all these tribal people to find water and how to make history in this Western Desert.

[How about the Australian Indigenous side of it?]

TM: Well, I’m really, yeah … with every art, like with desert art, people from Arnhem Land are really fascinating and all Australian Indigenous art, how you look at a painting and how you tell the story, and I feel that I have a gift to tell the story to the European and the non-Indigenous people that we are from these areas that we’re painting, and how we go about doing our art and how we promote ourselves in that way.

END
Video format: DVD/MiniDV/Quicktime movie
Video recording: Tape 25
Source: CSROH_195_Murungkurr_Terry_Murray
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Murungkurr Terry Murray; © FORM, transcript only

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.

Flooded waterhole

Submerged signs in the flooded waterhole at Kilykily. Canning Stock Route bush trip 1- 4 August 2007.

Date created: 8/3/2007
Photographer: Tim Acker
Location: Well 36, Kilykily
Latitude/Longitude: -22.13954/125.28315

Art Centre(s): CSR Project

Copyright: FORM
Format: Image
Category: Image
Source: 6 Canning Stock Route bush trip 1-4 August 07
Accession ID: 20131213_B0005_0031

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.

Flooded waterhole

A submerged sign in the flooded waterhole at Kilykily. Canning Stock Route bush trip 1- 4 August 2007.

Date created: 8/3/2007
Photographer: Tim Acker
Location: Well 36, Kilykily
Latitude/Longitude: -22.13954/125.28315

Art Centre(s): CSR Project

Copyright: FORM
Format: Image
Category: Image
Source: 6 Canning Stock Route bush trip 1-4 August 07
Accession ID: 20131213_B0005_0026

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.

Flooded waterhole

A family looking into the flooded waterhole at Kilykily. Canning Stock Route bush trip 1- 4 August 2007.

Date created: 8/3/2007
Photographer: Tim Acker
Location: Well 36, Kilykily
Latitude/Longitude: -22.13954/125.28315

Art Centre(s): CSR Project

Copyright: FORM
Format: Image
Category: Image
Source: 6 Canning Stock Route bush trip 1-4 August 07
Accession ID: 20131213_B0005_0023

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.

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.

Historical photo

Video Description: Pan of a historical photo of Aboriginal prisoners in chains.

Date created: 2010
Art Centre(s): CSR Project

Editor: Brandt Lee
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © FORM
Photo credits: State Library of Western Australia, Battye Library
Clip length: 0:00:20
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20131019_FORM_MIRA_B0050_0006

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.

Canning's work

Video Description: Canning's party set out from Perth in April 1906 to locate well sites roughly a day's walk apart and with enough water for up to 800 head of cattle.
"We had with us twenty-three camels, two ponies, eight pairs of water drums with a capacity of 320 gallons and sufficient food supplies to last nine months, with the exception of tinned meats, a sufficient supply of which it is almost impossible to carry, owing to its bulk and weight, consequently we depended to a certain extent on what game we could get."
He also asked the Secretary of Mines to authorise the police to issue neck chains to the survey party for the Aboriginal guides who would lead him to water.

Date created: 2010
People: Alfred Canning
Art Centre(s): CSR Project

Director: Nicole Ma
Editor: Brandt Lee
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © FORM
Photo credits: State Library of Western Australia, Battye Library
Clip length: 0:00:12
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20131019_FORM_MIRA_B0050_0005

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.

Snell's reconditioning of the wells

Video Description: 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.

Date created: 2010
People: William Snell
Art Centre(s): CSR Project
Place of creation: Well 18, Wanykuju
Latitude/Longitude: -23.56341/122.52854

Director: Nicole Ma
Editor: Brandt Lee
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © FORM
Photo credits: State Library of Western Australia, Battye Library
Clip length: 0:00:14
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20131019_FORM_MIRA_B0050_0004

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.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - historical