Name: Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi
Charlie Wallabi (Walapayi) Tjungurrayi - Travelling the Canning Stock Route, hunting camel and eating poisoned meat [ORAL HISTORY]
Synopsis: Jeffery James tells the story of Lake Disappointment.
The Ngayurnangalku (cannibals) were travelling across the Country during Jukurrpa. They had a big meeting asking whether they should stop killing people and eating them. Everyone decided that they would stop eating people, but the new born baby said 'No, keep eating them!' This split them, the Ngayurnangalku.
Art centre(s): Papunya Tula Artists
Language spoken: Kukatja
Catalogue number: CSROH_12_Charlie Wallabi_Walapayi_Tjungurrayi
Interviewed By: 2007-08-07
Transcribed By: Nola Taylor
Translated By: Nola Taylor
Location Described: Kumpupirntily (Lake Disappointment)
Location Recorded: Kilykily (Well 36)
Cultural Protocols: PUBLIC ACCESS - EDITED
Notes: Transcription includes some comments by transcriber.
Today, I tell ‘em today. Yuwa [yes], listen to me I was at Kukapanyu. I slept there and in the morning I got up and found a track of camel. A track came and went to the kapi [water] place, so I followed the track and saw where the camel got water from a drum after rain, the rain filled it up, big rain. I then had a drink, and then I sharpened my spear and put hooks on it. I did slowly and I got up and tried, practising aiming with the spear, then I got up and followed. Kept on following for a long time, tracking it from that place Kukapanyu. I followed him and the camel stopped to rest in the sandhills. Then he got up. I followed and it was fresh track, no mouse had run over the track to cover it up it was so fresh. I followed him to Wajaparni where camel had stopped to drink. I kept on following his track I followed him south, other side of little sandhill, I saw some shape,I saw the shape of the camel it was the neck part, then he moved his head up and around, up and down, so I stopped and creeped up to the camel, went around, got really close, this far [pointing to something there] so I creeped up close and then I speared him, I got him! And then he got up spear hanging out, still in his side. I chased him round and I tried to block it, then I followed him, tracked him to the waterhole, camel kept on running and I followed him. I followed him back to Wajaparni to this little creek here so the camel fell then I got close and I speared him for a second time. And he tried to get up trying to run but he couldn’t, he fell down again on the edge of the creek trying to go up but he fell back.
So when he fell down I ran up with a stick and him with a stick until I killed him. I got a knife, knife jimarri [stone knife] I then started cutting it. I cut the tongue first, and then I cut the two shoulder and then I cut his guts, whole lot, pull the guts out and get all the stuffing out, then I left it. I then started collecting wood for fire. I lit a really big fire, then I dug a big hole in the ground and put some wood in there and lit it up. I put them meat in the hole the whole lot even the head. I put it all on in a line, stretched it out. I had a big stick I used to turn the meat over. Then I was separating the hot coals to put the meat in the hot sand. I cut a big steak from that camel and cooked it separate for myself on the edge of the coals. I waited for the meat to get cooked. And when they were ready I pulled it out one by one. So after pulling it out from the fire I went to cut all the branches to cover the meat up. To stop the crows and other birds like eaglehawks from getting into the and eating. So I carefully put more heavy wood on top of it to keep it pressed down. So I left everything and went after the people followed them where i’d left them and I brought a piece of meat to show them that I had a bigger one back in that place where id cooked it. So I caught up with lots of people in a place called Nan, so they seen me carrying something big around, big steak, they watched me carrying it there, they was happy to see me carrying something so I gave meat to them, they was happy. And then I took them back where the rest was left and showed them. So everybody had a share of meat and I grabbed myself a shoulder blade and the rest was for the others. So they went back to Nan. So we stopped to finish off the kuka [meat], stayed for a while there til we finished all the meat and we got up kept on going east. And then I went back west to the Canning Stock Road to see if there was more camel. But I seen other tracks, it was people with bullock and people on the horses. Whitefella. And I only found a tin of tin meat that was left with poison in it. We ate all that tin meat and it was poison. There was another bloke with me and we ate it all. And he said, my jamu Japapa’s son, my son, he ate all and then he felt funny, felt so funny and he was shaking like as if he was cold. So he was shaking and I was wondering why this man was shaking and I asked him why are you shaking? And even his voice sound funny, he couldn’t speak properly. He was lying down mumbling. He was feeling helpless he couldn’t move, everything went funny. So I start fixing him up with maparn [magic] trying to make him move again and talk again properly. So I done all that work on him and then I went and got a mob of wood and I went and made a big waru [fire] and left him cos he was feeling cold.
I went away and I camped in a place called Inja and next day I got up and I went hunting and I found a track of pussycat I followed him then got him, I speared him and I cooked the pussycat, gutsed it out first and cooked it, while the meat was getting cooked I got up and was walking around and went back, got the meat out and cut it in half, cut it in the middle and top and bottom parts and then cut it in half again- quartered it- so I grabbed myself a piece of one leg, I left the rest and start to eat it, just pulling out a piece like fat first and all of a sudden I heard a noise, from nowhere going, ‘BOOOI, BOOIYI, Here I am!’ And I said, ‘it’s a ghost coming!’ I left that man back there dead, poisoned. I was thinking to myself, ‘he’s come back alive as a ghost he’s going to spear me!’ I got up and got my own spear, if he does spear me I’m going to spear him back, I’ll make sure I do it. I think he’s just a ghost come alive come back for me I thought to myself and I got up and walked away and left the meat on the ground and watched him come closer and I said, ‘there’s some meat in there I cut it in quarters. And half of the kuku [meat] is for me.’ So I tell him, ‘you can have the other half,’ so he went and got half leg the ghost did. I watched him he grabbed the kuka [meat]. I was still standing when I got my piece and breaking it piece by piece and just watching, and then I took it slowly and half the kuka and I saved it for my trip. And then I asked him ‘Are you alright?’ And he answered me, ‘I’m ok. I’m good’ (so he wasn’t really a ghost) and he start talking and I said, ‘oh we both ate that funny taste of poison bad things together,’ so I asked him again, ‘are you really good? Better and good?’ He said, ‘yeah I’m really good and better.’ So we started to go together walking. So we walked all the way to Lurlur, got there, when I got to Lurlur and I told all the mans, they came to me, what had happened. They thought that I was alright, good but I was really sick from eating that poison. I told the mans because it was law time and I made them sit down to listen to me, I couldn’t go next to the ladies because I was on my business, kept away from them. But the other bloke went and told the ladies cos I couldn’t go near. Told them ‘we have eaten poison. I was almost dead when Wallabi fixed me. I was dead. But my uncle Wallabi fixed me.’ Cos I was his uncle had to fix him, I done everything on him I fixed him all up. All the man kept me out they start singing to bring me out, corroboree. And I stayed longer, I was still away from the ladies. I used to a lot of hunting I used to get so many kuka, malu [wallaby meat] snake and all, I used to feed a lot of mans, pussycat, goanna, mutijurrpu [XX-bandicoot], juntutarrka [XX - translation needed], all those kuyi that was around long ago, everywhere. I watched them disappear. See a lot of kuka when I was young hunting but now it’s disappeared.
Then I remember my homeland, everybody else getting land for each other ngurra [Country, home], so I went up to kakarra east, to Pupanya, Papunya, I met other people there, a lot of people, and I asked them quietly and I went west to Mt Lieberg Yamunturrkurr , so we had meeting there and I said I’m just waiting on you to go, I wanted to listen a bit more so I could go back to ngurra, my Country Kiwirrkura. We went, they took me to Kiwirrkurra and I stayed longer. We burnt everything, burning the Country and then I went back to Yamunturrkurr, and I stayed a while then I packed all my things and put it on a motorcar and went back to Kiwirrkurra. I left all my things then I went back to Yamunturrkurr by walking, too far. And I asked them to take me to Balgo. They took me on the aeroplane to Balgo. So I tell everybody, tell my wife in Balgo, I was alright, I even stayed and travelled round on my own with others, its good. So then I got all my family and I got on a motorcar and went back to Kintore. We camped there a night and then we start travelling east to Yamunturrkurr. We camped a night and then we start travelling back to Kiwirrkurra. So we stayed long time in Kiwirrkurra. There was no houses there only humpies. I told my wife and family I burned up my country and left it clean. So we start another trip to Ninmi Puntujarrpa, I told a whitefella take me up there and put a bore down, I showed him. So next day they went there and they were digging up the ground and they put that bore down at Nyinmi and Puntujarrpa and houses. So I told him to dig down to get plenty of kapi [water]. One had windmill and the other had hand pump. So I plant that tree as well and I tasted the water. I was surprised to see how the water was just shooting out , how that machine, pump could make it come out like that [new way, because old time you have to dig it out and wait hours and do it in stages to get a good drink]. Then I asked them, I used to talk to the money bosses on the radio, asking to put houses there at Nyinmi. I was just living in calico humpies and I was pushing for houses, I’m just living in a humpy. So all that work I did, kartiya came and they said ‘Oh we going to put two or three houses there’. And I said, ‘Don’t have to be big, can be little small one house’. So we waited around til the houses were built, we arranged for us to have a house, a stronger one than humpy. Now that I got a house I was happy with it. I’m happy here and even told my family I’m going to live here for a long time with my families. And in future we might have to keep asking for more houses so other families can come and live here. If Kiwirrkurra got more houses we might ask for more …. [he talking more about wanting more houses and trying to get government give them but he’s still happy with couple] … I got these houses so other people can come, people from other communities can come and stay with the families, stay the night or when they pass through. I was talking pushing people [with Martu and other puntu [men] talking to kartiya] til I got houses put in two places, Kiwirrkurra and Nyinmi…
[There is a little bit more about houses and carpenter building them. Then John asks more about poison story- whether that poison was put down for dingo or puntu?]
[He put that poison down] for me not dingo. You know why because of me killing the camel, that’s why he put that poison on that kuka. I been follow him from Kukapanyu to wajaparni and I killed that camel. Camel belonged to kartiya. I followed him and speared him and followed him back to the creek here and cooked it and cooked everything, head and everything and steaks for myself, cooked all night. The meat that I took I showed everybody and shared and told them I got more left [injanu]. I showed everybody, man and woman and young and old. I had to bring the whole family back to get more … [more of same] after we left, all those stockman they came looking for their camel they tracked it, so they seen big fire place where that camel been cooked and killed and eaten – it was a working camel got cooked. So they wondered what happened to that camel and they were shocked to see that camel was dead and got cooked and eaten. So they had a meeting with kartiyas, the Martu trackers, and they talked about what they gotta do and how they gotta stop the Martu from taking camel and bullock so they decide they could kill a camel, cut it up and dry it and put poison on the meat. They put poison on anything on the road so that Martu could eat it but they never know that Martu could fix themselves. They didn’t know anything. Stockman used to leave meat killed for bushmen so Martu didn’t expect this meat to be poisoned – they trusted the meat left by drovers. They could eat anything, they thought it was good but really it was poison because Martu was killing working animal. But that’s what they did and that’s why I accidentally ate that poison. Many tin meat he could open it and leave it open with a poison inside, that kartiya. Plenty of tin meat he’d put around everywhere.
So kartiya decide after meeting they had they was told that they could put poison in every spot and every places what Martu could come and take it and every time they have to open many tin meat and leave it in many places with poison. So they did left lots and lots of tin meat and I came back for a second time with my nephew I saw a lot of tin meat, most of the tin meat open one and then I start to eat. So that’s when we start to eat. [He repeats story from beginning to explain how he ate poison and why kartiya left it there]
After eating all that camel we had that tin meat, other bloke said to me shall we go drink a water now? And I said no I’m ok you go and drink, and he went and had a drink and he came back and he could feel the poison working on him spreading in his system. So me and my nephew start to walk and he couldn’t walk he felt so funny and cold and start to shake on the edge/side of these dunes. So I start to work on him with maparn to stop the poison from spreading further towards the heart and everywhere. I was worried and made a big fire to stop the shaking. I thought it was something else to make him cold, sickness, not poison. I made one big fire and I left him and went east. [same story continues as earlier in transcript- re pussycat, ghost etc]. wurru wurru, the ghost was going to kill me spear me and I was scared. So I asked him when he got closer, Are you ok? Are you good? He said he’s ok so I said well get yourself some kuka- half is mine half for you. Then I stopped and watched him eating I didn’t start eating I watched how he was going with that kuka [to see if he was a real man or ghost might be]. I thought to myself I think he’s ok so I started eating and I break the half for myself and I started eating. So after when we had our meat together we started walking east and went and joined the others. When we got back to the people we told them we got poisoned – that poisoner is the murderer! But still today I’m still around after having that poison! I’m still alive. That’s why I been travel right here. And kill that camel right here [at Wajaparni]. So after eating poison that was enough getting rubbish into my body, not to eat it anymore, and even camel, I didn’t eat it anymore.
Source: CSROH_12_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.