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Kunawarritji

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.

Kunawarritji workshop, 2008

Location: Kunawarritji, Well 33

Date: 2008

Event Description: In April 2008 a big mob of Martumili artists travelled out to Kunawarritji (Well 33) and Kunkun for a week long series of painting and weaving workshops. Celebrated fibre artist Nalda Searles facilitated the weaving workshops, and some of the paintings produced at Kunawarritji are now considered 'hero' works in the National Museum of Australia's Canning Stock Route collection. Martu photographer Morika Biljabu documented these workshops and a number of her images were published in the Weekend Australian Magazine in the feature article 'On the Whitefellas Road' by Victoria Laurie.

People: Morika Biljabu, Victoria Laurie, Kumpaya Girgaba, Ngamaru Bidu, Mabel Warkarta, Nola Taylor, Thelma Judson, Marjorie Yates, Dulcie Gibbs, Yuwali Janice Nixon, Rosie Williams, Nora Nangapa, Bugai Whylouter, Nora Wompi, Jakayu Biljabu, Sarah Brooks, Noreena Kadibil, Yikartu Bunba, Lily Long, Renette Biljabu, Dadda Samson

Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists

Media Description: This photo was taken on a trip to Kunkun during which senior women performed songs and dances relating to this important women's site. A number of young boys also performed a boys' dance at Kunkun, preceding the women's dance and were sent away before they began.

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, Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Mangkaja, Martumili, Ngurra, Papunya Tula, Paruku IPA, Warlayirti and Yulparija artists and art centres.

Canning Stock Route and Surrounding Country

Artist(s): Kumpaya Girgaba, Ngamayu Ngamaru Bidu, Mitutu Mabel Wakarta, Ngalangka Nola Taylor, Thelma Judson, Marjorie Yates, Jugarda Dulcie Gibbs, Yuwali Janice Nixon, Mantararr Rosie Williams, Nyangapa Nora Nangapa, Bugai Whylouter, Nora Wompi, Jakayu Biljabu, Morika Biljabu

Date created: 2008
Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists
Size: 292.3x129
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Artwork Story: Kumpaya Girgaba laid out the initial design for this painting, which all the artists collaboratively customised and elaborated. When the painting was nearing completion, Kumpaya called out the names of all the waterholes depicted here. This painting, which was produced by 14 women artists at Kunawarritji (Well 33), represents a stretch of Country crossed by the Canning Stock Route. It depicts a number of the waterholes that were made into wells, but many other permanent and ephemeral water sources are also included. When the Canning Stock Route was in use as a droving highway, many of the artists relied on these other waters to ensure their safe passage through this contested land.

Place of creation: Well 33

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Kumpaya Girgaba, Ngamayu Ngamaru Bidu, Mitutu Mabel Wakarta, Ngalangka Nola Taylor, Thelma Judson, Marjorie Yates, Jugarda Dulcie Gibbs, Yuwali Janice Nixon, Mantararr Rosie Williams, Nyangapa Nora Nangapa, Bugai Whylouter, Nora Wompi, Jakayu Biljabu, Morika Biljabu
Catalogue ID: KG/NB/MW/NT/TJ/MY/DG/JN/RW/NN/BW/NW/JB/MB/201/MM
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Jason McCarthy
Photograph date: 2008-06-09
Photography copyright: National Museum of Australia
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography: Kumpaya Girgaba born about 1945 Manyjilyjarra language group, Karimarra skin group Parnngurr community Martumili Artists A respected law woman and cultural leader, Kumpaya was born near Kiwirrkurra and grew up around the Canning Stock Route. For many years her family avoided contact with Europeans, but eventually they moved to Jigalong mission to join their relatives. Kumpaya learned how to paint and weave baskets while visiting family in Balgo, Fitzroy Crossing and Patjarr. She is credited with introducing these skills to Martu people. Ngamayu Ngamaru Bidu born about 1950 Manyjilyjarra language group, Karimarra skin group Parnngurr community Martumili Artists Ngamayu grew up around Pitu. As a child, she encountered surveyor Len Beadell, who was grading roads near Well 22. He gave Ngamayu and her siblings fruit. Not realising that it was meant to be eaten raw, they cooked the fruit until it was completely dried up. After meeting Beadell, Ngamayu’s family was picked up at Parnngurr rock hole and taken to Jigalong. Mitutu Mabel Warkarta born about 1920 Warnman language group, Milangka skin group Parnngurr community Martumili Artists After Mabel’s mother and father died, she was ‘grown up’ by one of her aunts. She walked around Karlamilyi and Warnman Country, and when she was older she travelled with her promised husband. After walking into Jigalong, she worked on various cattle stations. Mabel married twice more after the death of her first husband. Ngalangka Nola Taylor senior translator and project adviser Nola works closely with Martumili Artists as a translator and adviser for Martu people. In 2007 she joined the ‘return to Country’ trip at Well 36. She has translated the majority of the Martu oral histories for the Canning Stock Route project. As a cultural mentor under the leadership of Martu elder, Kumpaya Girgaba, she has also provided guidance and support to curator Hayley Atkins, filmmaker Morika Biljabu and the whole project team. She has helped facilitate many trips in Martu Country. Nola is also an artist featured in the Canning Stock Route collection. Thelma Judson born about 1956 Manyjilyjarra language group, Milangka skin group Parnngurr community Martumili Artists Thelma was born in the Percival Lakes region and grew up around Yimiri and Kurturarra. In 1964 her family was one of the last Martu groups to leave the desert and be reunited with their families at Jigalong mission. After she left school, Thelma moved to Strelley station and married in Jigalong, where she had her children. Today she lives in Parnngurr with her husband, Yanjimi Peter Rowlands, and their children. Marjorie Yates born about 1950 Manyjilyjarra language group, Karimarra skin group Kunawarritji Community Martumili Artists Marjorie was married to senior Martu man Jeffrey James, who died in 2008. After establishing Kunawarritji community in the 1980s, she and her husband raised their children there. Marjorie lives at Kunawarritji today with her children and grandchildren. Jugarda Dulcie Gibbs born about 1947, died 2011 Manyjilyjarra language group, Milangka skin group Punmu and Kunawarritji communities Martumili Artists Dulcie grew up in the country between Kunawarritji and Yimiri. In 1957, after the death of her father at Karlamilyi (Rudall River), the family moved to Jigalong. With her sisters Muni Rita Simpson and Mantararr Rosie Williams, she returned to her Country at Punmu in 1982. She now lives in Kunawarritji with her husband, children and grandchildren. Yuwali Janice Nixon born about 1947 Manyjilyjarra, Mangala language groups, Purungu skin group Parnngurr community Martumili Artists Yuwali was born at Yulpu soak in the Percival Lakes. In 1964 her family group, which consisted only of women and children, tried to evade a native welfare patrol officer who was attempting to bring them in to Jigalong mission. This story is depicted in the book Cleared Out and the film Contact. Yuwali later worked on a number of stations, but finally moved closer to her Country in 1982 when she moved to Punmu. Mantararr Rosie Williams born about 1943 Manyjilyjarra, Mangala language groups, Milangka skin group Punmu community Martumili Artists Rosie was born at Kurupu, near Kurturarra in the Percival Lakes. After her father died at Karlamilyi (Rudall River), Rosie and her sisters, Jugarda Dulcie Gibbs and Muni Rita Simpson, met up with some Martu people who told them that their relatives were at Jigalong, and so they moved to the mission. In 1982 Rosie returned to her homelands at Punmu, where she lives today with her children and grandchildren. Nyangapa Nora Nangapa born about 1916 Manyjilyjarra language group, Karimarra skin group Kunawarritji community Martumili Artists I was born near Lipuru. We went from Lipuru to Wajaparni and Kilykily. They looked after me there as I grew. I went east … and kept on going towards Balgo, travelling with the drovers all the way. Nyangapa lives at Kunawarritji and travels regularly between Kunawarritji and Balgo. She paints for both Martumili and Warlayirti Artists, and many younger artists describe having learned to paint by watching her example. Bugai Whylouter born about 1945 Warnman, Kartujarra language groups, Purungu skin group Kunawarritji community Martumili Artists I saw whitefellas first time in Parnngurr. We were climbing up the hills [to get away]. Bugai was born at Balfour Downs and grew up around Kartarru (Well 24), Wantili (Well 25), Tiwa (Well 26) and Wuranu (Well 29). She travelled around Karlamilyi with her husband, and later with drovers on the stock route. In 1963 her family met surveyor Len Beadell, who was grading roads. They were taken to Jigalong. Nora Wompi born about 1935 Manyjilyjarra, Kukatja language groups, Nungurrayi skin group Kunawarritji and Balgo communities Martumili Artists Wompi was born with ‘pussycat’ (feral cat) Dreaming at Pingakurangu rock hole near Kunawarritji. As a young girl, she travelled north with the drovers to Billiluna and Balgo. Today she lives at Kunawarritji, but continues to travel regularly between Well 33 and Balgo, where she has many relatives. Wompi paints for both Warlayirti and Martumili art centres. Jakayu Biljabu born about 1937 Manyjilyjarra language group, Purungu skin group Punmu community Martumili Artists Jakayu was born near Pitu, east of Well 25, and grew up around Kunawarritji, Rarrki and Nyilangkurr, where her father died. In 1963, with her husband and extended family, she met the surveyor Len Beadell, who was grading roads for the Woomera rocket range. This meeting prompted them to join their relatives who were living at Jigalong mission. In 1982 Jakayu moved to Punmu community, where she lives today with her children and grandchildren. Morika Biljabu photographer and filmmaker Morika lives at Punmu in the heart of Martu Country. Her passion for her family and community inspires all of her film and photographic work. She joined the Canning Stock Route Project in 2007 for the ‘return to Country’ trip at Well 36. She recorded the artists’ workshops and produced a film featuring her grandmother, Jakayu Biljabu. In 2008 her photographs were published in the Weekend Australian magazine; that same year she held her first solo exhibition Ngayunpala Kujungka (We Are One).
Artwork Diagram: canning_stock_route_and_surrounding_country_various_detail

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0071

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.

Untitled (Eubena Nampitjin)

Untitled' - Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin and Wuntupayi Jane Gimme. Catalogue Reference: EN/JG/21/WA. 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

People: Eubena (Yupinya) Nampitjin, Wuntupayi Jane Gimme
Art Centre(s): Warlayirti Artists

Copyright: FORM
Format: Image
Category: Image
Source: 6 Canning Stock Route bush trip 1-4 August 07
Accession ID: 20131213_B0005_0075

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.

Video Title: Parnngurr Puntukurnu Parna

Video Description: Parnngurr Puntukurnu Parna tells the story of Martu people’s fight for native title and of their inseparable ties to Country. Curtis Taylor’s short films about his home community of Parnngurr describe the return of Martu people to their homelands, and the stories of the Country from its origin in the Dreamtime.

Date created: 2010
Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists, CSR Project

Director: Curtis Taylor
Editor: Brandt Lee, Curtis Taylor
Narrator: Curtis Taylor
Translator: Curtis Taylor
Executive Producer: FORM

Rights: © Curtis Taylor, 2010
Clip length: 0:02:22
Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS
Format: Video
Source: EMERGING FILMMAKERS MASTERS/Curtis Taylor
Category: Video
Accession ID: 20131021_FORM_MIRA_B0054_0003

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.

Nyilangkurr

Artist(s): Jawarta Donald Moko

Date created: 2007
Art Centre(s): Yulparija Artists
Size: 118.5x106.5
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Artwork Story: The story of Nyilangkurr links the southern and northern areas of stock route Country. In this painting, Kunawarritji (Well 33) (the red cross in the top right corner) lies at the northern end of a long chain of jila, and Nyilangkurr, an important men’s ceremonial site near Well 25, lies at the other. After conducting their ceremonies at Nyilangkurr, men would travel north to continue their ceremonies at the jila in Wangkajunga Country. Yalta, the birthplace of Rover Thomas, lies in the sandhills (the red and blue stripes) near Kunawarritji.

Location depicted: Nyilangkurr

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Jawarta Donald Moko
Catalogue ID: DM/189/SS
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Jason McCarthy
Photograph date: 2009-05-25
Photography copyright: National Museum of Australia
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
born about 1928
Wangkajunga, Yulparija, Kukatja, Manyjilyjarra language groups
Karimarra skin group
Bidyadanga community
Yulparija Artists
Like a titu [bird] travelling around … Jawarta grew up around the Percival Lakes and Well 33. He became a man at Jigalong, travelling afterwards to Wiluna, Lajamanu and Papunya. He stopped for a time at Anna Plains station, then moved to Bidyadanga in the 1960s. Jawarta has travelled extensively throughout his life as a maparn (healer), law man and artist. He is married to Miyapu Mary Meribida.
Artwork Diagram: nyilangkurr_donald_moko_detail

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0059

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.

Minyipuru

Artist(s): Nyangapa Nora Nangapa

Date created: 2008
Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists
Size: 182.5x118.5
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Artwork Story: The man who was chasing the Seven Sisters saw them dancing at Nyipil [Well 34], then they went back, flying to Kunawarritji [Well 33]. He saw them, ‘Oh, there they are at Kunawarritji!’ Then he followed them to Pangkapini.

The Seven Sisters or Minyipuru story is one of most important Jukurrpa narratives for Martu women. When they began painting in 2006, it was the first story they told.

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Nyangapa Nora Nangapa
Catalogue ID: NN/222/MM
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Jason McCarthy
Photograph date: 2009-06-18
Photography copyright: National Museum of Australia
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
born about 1916
Manyjilyjarra language group
Karimarra skin group
Kunawarritji community
Martumili Artists
I was born near Lipuru. We went from Lipuru to Wajaparni and Kilykily. They looked after me there as I grew. I went east … and kept on going towards Balgo, travelling with the drovers all the way. Nyangapa lives at Kunawarritji and travels regularly between Kunawarritji and Balgo. She paints for both Martumili and Warlayirti Artists, and many younger artists describe having learned to paint by watching her example.

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0088

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.

Kunawarritji

Artist(s): Nora Wompi

Date created: 2007
Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists
Size: 149.5x94
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Artwork Story: This is a rock hole that was made in the Jukurrpa. These Kanaputa [ancestral beings] are the stars in the sky. The Seven Sisters are standing up as a group of trees between Nyipil [Well 34] and Kunawarritji [Well 33]. I was a little baby here at the rock holes of Kunawarritji and Nyarruri [Well 32]. I painted all the little hills around that area. In the Jukurrpa, they were all squeezed out of the soft earth. People made them.

Location depicted: Kunawarritji (Well 33)
Place of creation: Martumili
Latitude/Longitude: -23.01/119.22

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Nora Wompi
Catalogue ID: NW/135/MM
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Jason McCarthy
Photograph date: 2009-05-21
Photography copyright: National Museum of Australia
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
born about 1935
Manyjilyjarra, Kukatja language groups
Nungurrayi skin group
Kunawarritji and Balgo communities
Martumili Artists
Wompi was born with ‘pussycat’ (feral cat) Dreaming at Pingakurangu rock hole near Kunawarritji. As a young girl, she travelled north with the drovers to Billiluna and Balgo. Today she lives at Kunawarritji, but continues to travel regularly between Well 33 and Balgo, where she has many relatives. Wompi paints for both Warlayirti and Martumili art centres.

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0017

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.

Kunawarritji

Artist(s): Bugai Whylouter

Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists
Size: 152x92
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Location depicted: Kunawarritji (Well 33)
Place of creation: Martumili
Latitude/Longitude: -23.01/119.22

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Bugai Whylouter
Catalogue ID: BW/131/MM
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Tim Acker
Photograph date: 2008-06-15
Photography copyright: FORM
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
born about 1945
Warnman, Kartujarra language groups
Purungu skin group
Kunawarritji community
Martumili Artists
I saw whitefellas first time in Parnngurr. We were climbing up the hills [to get away]. Bugai was born at Balfour Downs and grew up around Kartarru (Well 24), Wantili (Well 25), Tiwa (Well 26) and Wuranu (Well 29). She travelled around Karlamilyi with her husband, and later with drovers on the stock route. In 1963 her family met surveyor Len Beadell, who was grading roads. They were taken to Jigalong.

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0013

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.

Kunawarritji

Artist(s): Nora Wompi

Art Centre(s): Martumili Artists
Size: 183x122
Medium: acrylic on canvas

Location depicted: Kunawarritji (Well 33)
Place of creation: Martumili
Latitude/Longitude: -23.01/119.22

Artwork copyright: ©2013 Nora Wompi
Catalogue ID: NW/129/MM
Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on use

Photographer: Tim Acker
Photograph date: 2008-06-15
Photography copyright: FORM
Format: Image
Category: Artwork

Artist(s) biography:
born about 1935
Manyjilyjarra, Kukatja language groups
Nungurrayi skin group
Kunawarritji and Balgo communities
Martumili Artists
Wompi was born with ‘pussycat’ (feral cat) Dreaming at Pingakurangu rock hole near Kunawarritji. As a young girl, she travelled north with the drovers to Billiluna and Balgo. Today she lives at Kunawarritji, but continues to travel regularly between Well 33 and Balgo, where she has many relatives. Wompi paints for both Warlayirti and Martumili art centres.

Accession ID: 20131014_FORM_MIRA_B0045_0011

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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