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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)

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.

Name: Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi

Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi - Helicopter being taken to Balgo [ORAL HISTORY]

Synopsis: Charlie Tjungurrayi tells the story of when a helicopter landed at Natawalu and people got food. He also talks about how (Joey) Helicopter got taken to Balgo because he was sick, and how Charlie travelled to find him.

Date: 2007-08-08
Art centre(s):
Language spoken: Kukatja
Catalogue number: CSROH_15_Charlie_Wallabi_Walapayi_Tjungurrayi
Interviewed By: John Carty
Transcribed By: Ngalangka Nola Taylor
Translated By: Ngalangka Nola Taylor
Location Recorded: Natawalu (Well 40)
Latitude/Longitude: -21.66779/125.78843

Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Restrictions on Use
Access: Public
Notes: Includes reference to another story told by Charlie (CSROH_12).
Full transcript: Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi : See that dunes, tali, over there? That was our camp. We used to camp there. From there we used to go hunting. Time to time we used to stay longer and hunt. Used to get lots and lots of kuka [meat], goanna and other small animals, which we used to chase after before we could catch them. Marla [little wallaby], and rabbit and other kind of meat. We used to get a lot of kuka. And then all of a sudden we heard a noise when we were eating that sounded different and we said to each other, ‘What was that noise and where is it coming from?’ When it got closer the air was making a funny noise and we thought it was a big bird. And it came closer and closer and came over us, flew past. The people on the helicopter were watching us as they flew over. We watched it go past, over us, for a second time and then it landed next to the jurna [soak]. So the kartiya came back for a second time because he [must have] met some puntu [Aboriginal people] before. Just one chopper came down with a lot of kartiyas.

I was coming back from hunting. And the plane circled round me and I stopped to watch and showed them that I had goannas, holding it up to show them. I was standing on top of the dune. They were circling around, I was holding up the goanna. So after circling it went back and landed on this wala [saltlake — where he’s sitting at Natawalu]. I went back to my camp and I dropped everything. I had my kuka and I went back up to there. But the others they were too scared to go and meet them, they were hiding. But I bravely walked towards them and went and stood next to them and asked. But others were still away on a hunting trip, and people that come back from hunting were scared and frightened. After showing myself, how I was brave, I went back next day, and asked them for mirrka: Give me some food’. I was showing them with hand signs: ‘Food, [gesturing hand to mouth] that you can eat.’ I drew some pictures on the sand to show them, ‘Like this sort of food.’ So the kartiya looked at the picture then went around and got something. So he went and gave me one and showed me how to eat a piece himself. But my one, I just kept it in my hand. If I were to eat it straight away, I might die. [Note: see CSROH 12 — poison meat story]

So, I watch him eat it first. Might be poison. Making sure I kept it, I didn’t want to put it in my mouth straight away. I watched him carefully that he chewed and swallowed. And then I gave my piece back to him to watch him eat it and make sure it was ok. I asked him first, ‘You eat it first, my piece.’ So he took half of it. I was making sure it was alright to eat. So he took two piece: first and second one from my piece. Then I took that piece and watched what was in it and then bit it off slowly, chewing and eating it. And then I said, ‘Oh he did take the piece! He did eat it and swallow it he didn’t spit it out!’ And then I start talking in my language, and saying that ‘This is our Ngurra, our Country. We are here in our country, doing hunting and getting small animals in our own home. Snake and all, wallaby, pussycat, fox, you name it. Our own bushmen food.’

So others watched me, and they all wondered what I was doing. And then I called them in. ‘Come here!’ They was all hiding and peeping out to see what I was doing, watching me. And I showed my piece: ‘I’m eating this! [Mimics eating, biting cautiously.] Come here!’ So they got up slowly and walked towards where we were, coming closer. So they all came down to this wala [?] and I told them, ‘Don’t be afraid or scared. I’m not scared to eat this and die.’ So he left some tucker for us and the chopper people went back to where the chopper came from, to Balgo, and went and got the other chopper and together they came back to Natawalu, two helicopters. The first one came and saw that there was only a few of us and when he came back with the other chopper there was a lot of us. And he thought, ‘Oh, before we only saw a few people, now there’s a big mob. Why are there so many puntu around?’ He was thinking they must have all come out from hiding in the cave. And even we wondered. There’s so many kartiyas, we wondered if they came back with their backstops, to get us and eat us.

So I was feeling scared inside but I kept on talking to them, trying to make myself feel better. So they gave us a lot of food, even the dry flour. The others were still scared, they were still hiding. Even young people, and some old people. So I called them out. ‘Come down here! They giving us a food! We’ll all eat and we can all die together!’ So they start coming, two by two, sitting down next to it, pair of twos. I was talking my own language to them kartiyas even though they couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand them. As they came down one at a time and then two and two, and two and one, and some could come in three, and got bigger, puntu coming down from the tali, from each Ngurra. Kartiya was watching more and more people coming and getting close to where they were. And the kartiya looked at us when we got closer and sat down, and he was putting out food for everyone. And I was wondering why he was putting tucker out for each people and speaking in English, not putting it in big pile for all the Martu. And none of the Martu spoke English so they just got there and sat down and waited, they couldn’t answer back.

And once they all went down, and everyone just went down slowly in a group from each Ngurra until they were all down there, puntu were wondering, ‘Why they all want us down here?’ And I was saying to myself, ‘Oh, they getting out food for us and they probably going to kill us after feeding us.’ But I start speaking in my language saying, ‘I’m the only one bravely talking on behalf of all this people. You’re probably going to feed us all and kill us and eat us.’ So he ended up giving a bag of flour to each families so they could take it home and cook for themselves. So we went and took it home, cooked it, ate it and we kept going back for more. So the chopper left to go, and they kept on coming back for us. We didn’t move from the Ngurra. We stayed in the one Ngurra Natawalu.

So we wondered how they keep coming back and seeing us still around and alive? We think we’ll all go away from them, leave this Ngurra. But the womans decide to say, ‘No, we can’t leave all the tucker behind. We got so many we can’t carry them all.’ Drum of flour, big one. Even kartiya showed how they used to cook porridge. They cooked up one porridge and gave some for me to try or taste it. I looked at it first and said, ‘Do I have to eat this?’ So we had it in one big plate. I was on the other side and I make sure I watch him eating it first and then I started putting it in my mouth. So I think, ‘I’ll be the first one to die. He’s probably feeding me so I’ll fall over dead and he’s going to eat me.’ ‘Cause I was the only one around them to taste everything. I put myself up for testing all the food. Everything that I had to taste. He even showed me how to eat. I had to put it in my mouth and then swallow it down. I watched him slowly even though we ate together in one plate. And I said, ‘He’s probably trying to kill me. He was just feeding me so I can eat and die and after when I’m dead he’s going to put me in the waru [fire] and eat me.’

So kartiya people came back for a second time. And my young brother [His name was Helicopter Tjungurrayi] was so sick, he had sores everywhere and he was helpless, a little boy. So we went and showed kartiya. Even though I wasn’t speaking English I said in my language, ‘Look at this little boy, he’s got a lot of sores, big sores’. And I called out my little brother, ‘Come closer!’ And he couldn’t walk properly, he limped over closer. He couldn’t walk over, so he crawled in. So I grabbed my little brother and I showed him to them. ‘See, this is all the sores he got.’ So kartiya looked at his sores and said, ‘Ok, we’ll take him,’ because he was so sick. So kartiya picked him up and put him inside [the helicopter]. So I asked the kartiya, ‘Are you going to bring him back?’ And he said, ‘Yuwayi, I’ll bring him back.’ I think he probably said, ‘Yes, I’ll bring him back,’ even though I couldn’t really understand his kartiya language. We couldn’t understand each other anyway. He was speaking his language and I was speaking my language, but I’m sure we could still understand each other.

I kept on saying, ‘Are you going to bring him back?’ He probably said, ‘Yes, I’ll bring him back.’ I waited, waited, waited for long. And I wondered, ‘They’re not bringing him back! Nothing!’ But it was just because we couldn’t understand each other. It was getting a bit longer, and I said to myself, ‘I think I’ll go after him, north’. So I start walking north to another water, camp the night. And I kept on walking to another soak, another well. I kept on going. I came to this big well, and I climbed up on the ladder and looked down. It was deep down, and I wondered, ‘I don’t think I’ll go down. This is too deep! I might go one way if I go down to get it! I might drown and be dead.’ I just left. I walked and I camped at another water. And then the next day I start travelling and kept going and I came to another water, Kulyayi [Well 42]. And I looked at it and I said, ‘Oh its got water in it!’ I was happy to get water because the water was up higher and I could reach it easier.

I drank the water and then I decided to go hunting, I went along and found a fresh track of pussycat. I followed that pussycat till he went up the tree and he went into the yurltu, the hollow inside. From Kulyayi I followed, up the dunes, and followed the pussycat into the hollow. I climbed up slowly and saw the pussycat inside and said to one bloke, ‘Pass me a spear so I can spear it from the hollow. Pass me one with the hook so I can spear it.’ So I speared the pussycat and I pulled it out and got him from the hollow. But the cat was still alive, he was just biting on the spear, so I threw it down on the ground with the spear. From the top of the tree I threw it down. So I went down and killed the pussycat, picked it up and I was just about to start walking off and I saw somebody behind the tree peeping, and I thought to myself, ‘Who’s this man going to kill me?’ So I grabbed hold of my spear, and put a mangkuju, spear thrower, on and I walked up to him ready to throw the spear.

When I got closer he wasn’t moving. He was all stiff, not even moving, he didn’t respond to me, probably dead, I wondered. Even though he was on his belly, looking as if he was creeping, he was still looking up straight in the air, even though he was dead. So I said to myself, ‘What I’m going to do with him? I think I’ll dig and bury him.’ So I start digging shallow grave, enough to fit him in. It’s like digging for a dog. So I grabbed a stick and tossed him, turning him over to the hole, and placed him how I found him, on his tummy instead of on his back. And I covered him half way, left some of him uncovered. So I covered half of his body from his foot up to the shoulders, his head was still coming up. So when I walked off and turned around and looked, I saw his kurti [spirit] was sitting. That was his spirit. So his spirit started looking like a kangaroo. And we all asked each other, ‘Let’s kill that kangaroo!’ It wasn’t too far, it was so close to us, and we was just ready to spear. So that marlu [kangaroo] shifted to another place. Didn’t go far, it was still close. Then we all throw the spear at him but he got up, shifted into another spot, sat. That kangaroo wasn’t a little one, it was SO big! So I tell the others, ‘It’s so big shall we leave it?’ We left that kangaroo and we walked off back to the kapi [water] Kulyayi. We came back and camped the night and started the next day, kept on going north. From there I kept walking right, long way, all the way to Balgo.

And first time, face to face I met up again with stockmen, people that I know, even my father-in-law [at Balgo], and I wave my hand to them and I asked them when I stopped there, where those people [my brothers and mother] I asked them [stockmen]. And they told me, they just there, east, with mans ladies kids and all, everybody there. I saw Bonney and my other brothers they was there before I came in. And they also gave me a clothes and shirt, so I slept a night there and next morning I went east, I was west side of Canning Stock Route and I wanted to go east. So when I went nearly all the way to Balgo I got clothes and I seen house for the first time from long way. I didn’t go in I just saw houses and I stopped to camp a night. And next day I walked in and I seen jamu [grandfather] chopping wood, for fire. I creeped up close and stopped and watched, and I went ‘BOOO!’, and he was surprised and looked around and I showed myself waved my hands, I’m here. So then I walked up to him and said I came from long way, I walked closely and that old jamu then took me to show me where the family was and everybody came from every corner of the camp, kids, young and old.

[Then one of the ladies in the background tells Charlie: nyamu - finish now, but he gets upset with them and says] ‘I want to tell the truth about my life! How I was a bushman and I walked in and I went straight where the mans were not up to the kids! I’m talking right way, I’m not talking liar! I never do nothing wrong …’

[He pulls off his microphones in a rush then and gets up to walk away. John says, that was a palya wangka, Wallabi laughs sheepishly and tape ends]


Video recording: 8 IV - Well 36, atmos
Source: CSROH_15_Charlie_Wallabi_Walapayi_Tjungurrayi
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi; © 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.

Name: Clifford Brooks

Clifford Brooks - Painting stories and skin groups [ORAL HISTORY]

Synopsis: Clifford Brooks explains two of his paintings and explains four skin groups to John Carty.

Date: 2007-08-01
Art centre(s):
Language spoken: English
Catalogue number: CSROH_17A_Clifford_Brooks
Interviewed By: John Carty, Karen Dayman
Transcribed By: Monique La Fontaine
Location Recorded: Kutjuwarri (Well 46)
Latitude/Longitude: -20.64184/126.28722

Cultural Protocols: Public Access - Verbal Consent
Access: Public
Notes: These are transcribed stories for Clifford Brooks’ paintings: CB/11/TJ, and CB/9/TJ. Paintings CB/11/TJ and CB/9/TJ were not part of the final collection.
Full transcript: John Carty: Ok, this one now is for Cliffy’s painting catalogue number CB-11-TJ.

Clifford Brooks: Yu. Yuwayi [yes], this just about all the Ngurra [Country], you know. People live in their own Ngurra, like rock holes, and they got their own, own maaja [law boss], like own boss, and their own, might be they got a one elder there. Like when you go to communities now they got that big boss there, might be for the tribe for the law, you know business time, they got a boss there. Like a one boss for law, ‘nother boss for … different, different law they got ‘em, you know, different tribes got different … Like he’s in charge of that dance group, he’s in charge of this dance group, you know, that one there. You know, Ngurra, you know, not one boss for everything. Gotta listen to, you know, if one talking they gotta all agree, you know. Sometime you don’t get people all agreeing in one you know, you get, ‘Ah, nah, nah, nah. You do it this way,’ you know. They don’t all agree in one, they all different, different but different way of thinking you know. Yu [yes].

Karen Dayman: That always been the case?

CB: Yu [yes].

KD: Bushmen would have been arguing little bit too?

CB: Oh yeah. Some people don’t agree with one. You know, ‘oh, let’s do it for the whole lot of us,’ you know. Whole lot. [Laughs] I been see that happen you know. Yu [yes]. Now then and [in whiny voice], ‘Oh, what you gotta say? Well we not gonna listen to him,’ you know. ‘He not a maaja [law boss].’ Yeah. [Laughs] You know, might be he just come lately that bloke, man you know. They go, ‘Ah no, we gotta listen to that old fella, he been there long time, you know. He’s the maaja. He got the dreaming, that one there, you know. Listen to that man there’. You know, one group decide, one group that side, ‘nother group that side, ‘nother group that side. That’s why, you know, [laughs] different different ideas, you know. [Laughs.]

KD: [XX - indecipherable]

CB: Yeah that’s that story there that one.

JC: Alright, we’re moving on to Clifford’s other painting, CB-09-TJ.

CB: Yuwayi [yes]. This one four skin groups. You know, four skin groups? For that one. Four skin groups. You probably get the name of the four skin groups in the book you know. They got ‘em in schools there.

JC: Say ‘em now.

CB: Karimarra. Panaka, Purungu and Milangka.

JC: You’re Milangka? [Speaking to Karen Dayman]

CB: Mm.

JC: And you? [Speaking to Clifford Brooks]

CB: Karimarra.

JC: You’re Karimarra.

CB: Same as Tjungurrayi and yeah. [Laughs]

JC: How does that? Do you know how they flip over? With the eight and the four … so that Karimarra
that’s a Tjungurrayi and ...

CB: Tjungurrayi yeah.

JC: Karimarra is Tjungurrayi and which one? You know how there’s ...

CB: [XX – Jarartu?] Jarartu, you talking about Walapayi.

KD: Is it male/female?

CB: Eh? No, no. That’s skin colour. Desert, they different. They say different way. Different way of saying it, but it’s the same word what they mean.

JC: Yeah, yeah, but I’m just thinking like …

KD: Milangka is Nakarra so Jakarra?

CB: Yuwayi [yes] and Jampijin. Jampijin.

KD: They said I’m Milangka, I’m Nakarra.

CB: Yu [yes], Milangka and Jampijin. Yeah, you know what they call, ah whatsaname mob, um Walmajarri [language group] mob or that side, what they call em, that Balgo mob, Kukatja [language group] mob call it, yeah.

JC: Yeah, see that way, Balgo mob got eight skins so …

CB: All mean the same thing, but different way of saying it.

JC: Yeah, but like so Milangka is Tjakamarra, Nampitjin, Tjampitjin, but you know what Purungu is?

CB: Purungu, ah I don’t know Purungu.

KD: Jangarti.

JC: Jangarti.

CB: I don’t know Purungu. I don’t know that one. But Walapayi, he know.

JC: Yeah, I’ll ask him. Because I don’t fully understand which one is which, I only know Milangka.

KD: Yeah, Milangka, yeah, like Jakarra, Nakarra.

CB: Yu [yes] Jakarra, yu.

KD: Jakarra, Japanangka.

CB: Japanangka is like me, yu [yes].

KD: Purungu.

CB: No, no. Like people on that side, me, like a Japanangka they call me or Tjungurrayi they call me if I go
that side.

KD: Japanangka or Tjungurrayi? That’s different.

CB: Yu [yes]. Japanangka is like the way they call me, the different way they call ‘em that side.

JC: Japanagka, Tjungurrayi for Karimarra.

CB: Yu [yes], Karimarra Tjungurrayi, yu, that’s one same colour, me.

JC: So, Japanangka Napanangka is the same, male/female is irrelevant.

CB: Yeah. Like the old man Milangka well that side they might call you oh Jampijin.

JC: No, Nampitjin.

CB: Nampijin they call ‘em Jampijin like same thing. Like one old fella name is a Jampijin.

JC: N is for female and TJ is for male. [Note: Interviewer references TJ here because he speaks some Kukatja. However, in the orthographies of Manyjilyjarra and Martu languages the usage is J.]

KD: That’s what I’m saying that Nakarra and Nampitjin are the same.

JC: The same. In Martu.

CB: Yuwo [yes], Milangka. Milangka yu [yes], like Milangka I call ‘em niece or Mummy, I call em, me.

KD: But they’re not the same in Kukatja, so ...

JC: No, not at all.

CB: See different way they call em that side. Different way they call em. See, you have a look there Walapayi and Tjungurrayi, they two brothers. They got the same colour but see, they call him Tjungurrayi because he went that side. He went to that place, what they say? What that...

JC: [XX – indecipherable]

CB: No that way, that way … Lajamanu. Well Tjungurrayi they still the same because Walapayi was saying, ‘I’m a Jarurra [Jungkurra?] me. I’m one Jarrurta. I never change my name.’ He been tell that he went that way, he came back a Nungurrayi, ah a Tjungurrayi. Yu [yes] and he was saying that the other day. You been hear him? Yeah.

KD: So you were saying Nakarra is Milangka, so what does Nakarra call Jampijin?

JC: Granny.

CB: Ah, I’m not sure ‘cause that’s a different way that side. [Laughs]

KD: Yeah, but I’m just wondering why they’re grouped like that.

JC: Um, maternal grandparents.

CB: Must be … granny … yu [yes].

JC: Must be Tjungurrayi maybe. What do you call them? Uncle?

CB: No, brother! Them two they the same colour.

JC: It’s too hard.

CB: It’s too hard.

KD: So that’s the four main ones there.

CB: That’s the four main ones, that’s the Ngurra [Country] there, all the Ngurra there yuwo [yes]. Yuwo.


Source: CSROH_17A_Clifford_Brooks
Rights: Cultural Owner & Storyteller: Clifford Brooks; © 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.

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