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Ngarluma Ngurra


Ngarluma Ngurra Aboriginal Culture on the map

We hope the next generation are well educated in regards to Country, that they keep Aboriginal culture alive. When Aboriginal people walk on the land, the land is happy. – Geoffrey Togo

Cover Illustration: Jill Churnside, Wundumurra (Sherlock River)



Hello Country, I’ve come back after being away for so long. I’m a Ngarluma person. I was here a long time ago,

I know you and you know me. Please don’t harm us, we didn’t come here to harm you Reg Sambo, Ngarluma elder at Gurnanananra, Sharmila Wood, 2013





Foreword, Jacinta Mack, Chairperson, Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya Ltd


Introduction, Lynda Dorrington, FORM Executive Director


Sense of Place, Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator


New Songs, Old Country, R.D. Wood, Writer & Historian


Exploring the Digital Frontier: Creating the Ngarluma Map Interview: Andrew Dowding


Google Earth Outreach: Seeing is Believing, Rebecca Moore, Google Earth Outreach Founder and Manager


Places along Wundumurra (Sherlock River)


Stories from Ngarluma Country

111 Daryl Jones, Roebourne, Oz Aerial Photography, 2012 © All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical (including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system) without permission from the publisher. It is customary for some Indigenous communities not to mention the names or reproduce images of, or associated with, the recently deceased. All such mentions and images in this book have been reproduced with the express permission of the appropriate authorities and family members, wherever it has been possible to locate them. Nonetheless, care and discretion should be exercised in using this book. Where there are several variations of spelling for Indigenous words, the most commonly used versions have been included, or, where supplied, the preferred spelling of individuals or communities.


All photographs by Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator, unless otherwise noted.

This publication is a living document, the content can be altered, modified and adapted. This map is designed to provide an insight into Ngarluma culture and relationship to Country; it is not a comprehensive database of Ngarluma sites,  heritage, or tradition. It has been designed as a pilot project. The Ngarluma  community and elders will continue to contribute cultural information as relevant.  The Ngarluma community and Ngarluma elders should be consulted in regards to content in this book, and on the map. This is not an alternative to consultation, or heritage surveys.



Foreword Jacinta Mack, Chairperson, Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya Ltd

‘Keeping our culture strong as we work together to empower Ngarluma people towards a sustainable future.’ The Ngarluma people are the Indigenous

to negotiate on behalf of the Ngarluma

Ngarluma culture, traditions and values.

people of the coastal areas around Roebourne

people regarding the use of their lands. In

The Ngarluma Ngurra: Mapping the Country

(West Pilbara, Western Australia); their land

March 2011, the NAC signed an Indigenous

project brings together the diverse ways in

encompasses the interior hills and tablelands

Land Use Agreement (ILUA) out of which

which Ngarluma people have expressed

to the east and sweeps across the river

the Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya

their knowledge and relationship to their

systems and the coastline to the west, which

Ltd (NTKML) was created to perform the

Country. This has been achieved through the

includes the world-famous Burrup Peninsula

function of trustee for the Ngarluma Direct

paintings of Ngarluma artist Jill Churnside,

and Dampier Archipelago. Ngarluma country

Benefits Trust and Ngarluma Charitable

and new digital and creative platforms that

is neighboured by Kariyarra, Yindjibarndi,

Trust. These Trusts have a future fund, where

document, record and celebrate Ngarluma

Kuruma and Mardhuhunera.

a portion of its monies are deposited and are

elder’s ongoing connection to country and

then invested with the objective of creating

demonstrate the rich, complex cultural

a strong financial security for Ngarluma

traditions that exist in the region today.

The term Ngurrara refers to the traditional owners ‘Country’; the word derives from Ngurra, which can be translated to include land, earth, country, place, home or camp.

people, so that in the generations to come Ngarluma people can continue to care for themselves and their Country.

Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the map is a pivotal cultural project that will re-establish

In its broadest interpretation, a Ngarluma person’s Ngurra is the whole of their land,

In addition to this activity, the Trustee is

and invigorate Ngarluma cultural identity,

country or territory. Archaeological surveys

always exploring ways in which funds can

as it creates a starting point for the cultural

reveal that continuous occupation and

be used to benefit the Ngarluma community.

stories and personal histories that connect

ancestry stretches back more than 30,000

One way in particular is developing a

and intersect across Ngarluma Country to be

years. Ngarluma people continue a deep

sustainable future for Ngarluma children

documented. At the same time, the project

historical and spiritual connection to the

and this project specifically aligns with

has engaged our Ngarluma elders, who

land, waterways, rivers and the sea. In

this vision, through its focus on creating a

have been instrumental in developing and

May 2005, Native Title was granted to the

cultural heritage tool that will facilitate the

advocating for this project, which honours

Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people, who have

ongoing intergenerational transfer of culture

their knowledge and ensures that it is

both established Prescribed Body Corporates

and knowledge, and the preservation and

safeguarded for our future generations to use

to manage their Native Title rights and

promotion of Ngarluma cultural values to the

as an empowerment source in their lives.


broader public.

After proving their traditional connection

‘Keeping culture strong’ is one of the core

to their lands, the Ngarluma Aboriginal

values of Ngarluma people and as a result

Corporation (NAC) was given the legal ability

we aim to support projects that maintain

Gurgarra, 2013


In conclusion, we believe that the Ngarluma


Introduction Lynda Dorrington, Executive Director, FORM In conjunction with the Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the map, FORM is presenting the outcomes of the Canning Stock

The Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal Culture on the map evolved from a creative initiative exploring the intergenerational transmission of Ngarluma culture and tradition through arts with a focus on tabi, the Ngarluma poetry and song tradition translated in paintings by artist Jill Churnside.

Route Digital Futures Project which brings together the incredible breadth and wealth of cultural materials gathered on the Canning Stock Route Project since 2006 into a digital repatriation model that will enable remote Aboriginal communities to access their invaluable cultural and intellectual property digitally and in their own communities. This vast repository of cultural materials includes hundreds of hours of High Definition footage, over 250 oral histories and interviews, over

From a return trip to Country undertaken

Indigenous groups across Australia who

as part of this endeavour, the project grew

are the world’s oldest living culture. New

to encompass the broader Ngarluma

technologies provide a way for the knowledge

community who were interested in exploring

and wisdom of these cultures to find

The online repository will allow far greater

ways to document and record their intangible

different forms of expression, at the same

community access, and enable multiple

cultural heritage. In response to the

time demonstrating that Ngarluma people

users to access the archive at any time. It

Ngarluma elders, the Project evolved into a

know the landscape as a space embedded

will also ensure that schools and the general

wider investigation of cultural preservation,

with complex cultural and spiritual values,

public are able to access public layers of the

demonstrating how imagination and creative

one which they managed through practices

energy can empower and strengthen

evolved over millennia.

communities in new ways. FORM worked in collaboration with Ngarluma anthropologist, Andrew Dowding, whose concept of a digital map emerged as a platform to document Ngarluma knowledge for future generations, whilst giving an insight to the non-Aboriginal audience into Ngarluma history, experience and way of

20,000 photographs and a range of other curatorial and research materials.

archive for research and general use. An iOS app for mobile devices based on the award winning One Road multimedia interactive, the

FORM became the first Australian

signature piece of the record-breaking Yiwarra

organization to be a recipient of the Google

Kuju exhibition, has also been created and is

Earth Outreach grants program, which

available to download.

rewards organizations with outstanding mapping ideas to support the technical development of maps. Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite

FORM’s commitment to maintaining cultural identity and the robustness of Aboriginal communities is reflected in these projects, as we build opportunities for employment,

imagery, and terrain. The Ngarluma Ngurra

social interaction and intercultural exchange

map animates and embeds the cultural

through investment in Aboriginal cultural

traditions and histories of Ngarluma people

and creative projects that support community

into Google Earth so you can explore rich

livelihoods and wellbeing. The digital realm

content and share this with others. The

is an increasingly important space for

project has been produced as a creative

Aboriginal people to be able to participate

collaboration with Ngarluma elders, a

in fully and equally, FORM will continue to

Ngarluma anthropologist, film-makers,

catalyse and create digital projects in remote

The creation of a digital map reflects how

photographers, software developers and

and regional Australia in collaboration with

innovation can forge new frontiers for


Aboriginal communities.

seeing Country in the Pilbara. The Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya Ltd partnered with FORM to sponsor the project, demonstrating their commitment to strengthening Ngarluma culture and empowering people to build a positive future through bolstering and revitalising Ngarluma cultural practices.

Re-imagining the map



Sense of Place

Why are you moving to the middle of nowhere?

outback. In the Pilbara, petrol stations offer a

and longitude, dividing country into

the trees, flowers, hills and rivers, to which

continue to possess this ethno-botanical

Roebourne Native Reserve, established for

touring map of the region which names the

tenement and property allotments.

they have a familial relationship through the

knowledge, which requires understanding

displaced people.


about seasons and local resources.

through an oral tradition: songs, myths,

Digital mapping as we’ve applied it in

Archaeological records suggest that

Ngarluma elders continue to carry an

stories, names, place names, ceremonies,

the Ngarluma Ngurra project provides

Ngarluma people have lived in this region

encyclopaedic knowledge of, and connection

customs, beliefs, superstitions, oral poetry,

an opportunity for Aboriginal people to

for 30,000 years, managing and shaping

to, Country. The Ngarluma Ngurra project

as well as various forms of traditional

capture on film and through other forms

the land through cultural practices that

provides an insight into being in and

knowledge. Finding a method to translate

of documentation their understanding,

have promoted the ongoing viability and

experiencing the landscape from the

intangible heritage connected with specific

memories and knowledge of place. In

sustainability of Country. The Ngarluma

Ngarluma perspective. We experience

places and sites into an accessible medium

building the map, we travelled with

elders made the decision to make their

the landscape as a complicated nexus of

has its challenges. Google Earth offers a

Ngarluma elders, Pansy Hicks, Reg Sambo,

experiences and knowledge of this Country

histories, spirituality, heritage, stories and

solution as it enables stories to be recorded

Frank Smith, Jim Fredericks, Ricky Smith,

accessible to both Ngarluma and non-

song. There are also traces of the tragic

and embedded across the surface of a map.

Keith Churnside, Jill Churnside, Jeannie

Ngarluma audiences in order to share their

past, of conquest, extraction, and violence,

In the Ngarluma Ngurra interactive map you

Churnside, and Rebecca Churnside, to sites

cultural values with a broad audience. Many

of memories and nostalgia, of the personal

can fly to a point which has been identified

on Country and places to which they were

of the elders who have participated in this

and sensorial. By enabling the viewer to be

by the community as a place of significance

connected. Reg Sambo told us that he wanted

project were born in the bush, growing up

immersed in looking ,sensing and listening,

and learn about what the place means to

to safeguard this information for the future.

close to Country with their families and

the map reveals a place embedded with

Ngarluma people. In this way, the digital

‘I want to leave this story on tape for the next

elders who were working on the stations.

knowledge and alive with culture.

map is a meeting point, for a non- Aboriginal

generation, so that they know the story of

Women were employed as domestics and

audience to connect with the depth of

this place,’ he explained. The Ngarluma Ngurra

men worked as stockmen performing duties

Ngarluma knowledge about their place in the

map functions as an archive for Ngarluma

such as mustering and fencing.


knowledge and language, both of which are

landscape predominantly in English terms. Ngarluma Country which extends from the southern boundary at the base of the Chichester Ranges to the northern fringes

I heard this question many times when I relocated from Sydney to live in the Pilbara: it’s revealing of attitudes towards the northwest, illustrating that for most Australians, this is a place that remains unknown, distant, and mythic: I am grateful that through my experience living and working with Aboriginal people in Roebourne, I began to understand their part of the Pilbara as Country: a landscape alive with meaning, identity, memories, and spirituality. The anthropologist Dr Deborah Bird Rose developed a definition of Country as a place that is lived in and lived with. ‘People talk about Country in the same way that they would talk about a person: they speak to Country, sing to Country, visit Country, worry

along the Indian Ocean, and out to the west running from the Maitland River through to the Peawah River in the east is represented as a series of towns, stations, travel stops, mining sites, roads and highways snaking across the land. This map obscures Aboriginal heritage, illustrating how a dominant colonial framework is imposed over the landscape. Older maps available on the public record show Aboriginal place names, which appear to have dropped off modern iterations. Given the complexity of how Aboriginal people experience and know the Country, there are challenges to how much information can be contained in the format of a paper map. Painting has emerged as

Despite this history of dispossession,

Aboriginal culture passes on knowledge


Roebourne is now the hub for Ngarluma

a way to express Aboriginal perspectives

The connection and relationship with

on Country that captures an element of

Country is integrated into Ngarluma culture

The map is an expression of culture, revealing

people from their land began when pastoral

the intangible knowledge associated with

through the Galharra system, a kinship

the interdependency between the natural

enterprises acquired large tracts of land

Country. As part of the Ngarluma Ngurra

structure which governs relationships

world, culture and the sacred. Survival in

for agriculture. This industry subsequently

project, Jill Churnside has created sweeping

amongst all people in the community.

the Pilbara’s extreme climate depended

provided employment for Ngarluma people,

visions of Ngarluma land viewed from an

Everyone belongs to one of the following

upon the skills and ability to work with the

which, whilst largely unpaid did allow many

aerial perspective, illustrating how she

skin groups: Banaga, Burungu, Balyirri or

natural environment. Ngarluma people fully

to stay on their traditional lands. In 1968 the

translates her emotions and experience of

Garimarra. A person’s Galharra governs

exploited available resources, whilst also

introduction of equal wages for Aboriginal

Maps generally reinforce the impression

Ngarluma country onto the canvas. Jill’s

marriage and interactions between

working to ensure a balance was maintained

pastoral workers led to the widespread

of the Pilbara as a place on the edges, with

paintings are a contrast to non-Aboriginal

community members. This system illustrates

in the ecosystem through ritualistic activities

unemployment of Ngarluma people who lost

the density and fullness of Australian cities

cartography, which understands landscape

how people are interconnected, not only to

and land management. For instance, women

the right to stay on their country. Yindjibarndi

engulfed by the expansive space of the

through measurements of distance, latitude

each other, but also to their environment: to

harvested bush foods and medicines; they

and Ngarluma people were moved to the

about Country, feel sorry for Country, and long for Country,’ 1 she explains. For Ngarluma people, there is no other heart, Country is the centre of culture, life and creation. When people commented that the Pilbara was so ‘far away from anywhere’, I began to wonder, far from where?


settlement. The dispossession of Ngarluma


Deborah Bird Rose, Nourishing Terrains, Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness, Australian Heritage Commission, 1996, Canberra p.7


Pansy Hicks on Pyramid Station



Jill Churnside

Jill Churnside, Wundumurra (Sherlock River) Acrylic on Canvas, 2013 167cm x 197cm Photograph: Bill Shaylor



Viewed from above through Google Earth, the Sherlock River tributaries branch out like tree roots as it unites with the sea.

Jill Churnside, in her painting, Wundumurra

variations in the landscape from red pindan

Jill is interested in exploring how to

and was subsequently raised in Perth by

trade at Cossack she depicts Aboriginal

in expanding into different mediums. In 2012,

(the Sherlock River), captures the sinuous

soil to the beige Spinifex, or the new, fresh

communicate the experience of being on

a Japanese woman, known as Aunty Lulu

people as indentured labourers who were

she undertook workshops as part of FORM’s

lines of this river from an aerial perspective.

green grasses that spring up after the rain.

Thalayindi through her paintings, with a

and her Chinese husband Tommy Lee,

enslaved to perform the work of divers: many

Land.Mark.Art program, a process designed

particular focus of her work centring on

she spent the early years of her life living

died at sea.

to invoke design thinking and the practical

yirndas (permanent waterholes) found in her

near Murrumbiina Yirnda at the station

father’s Country. ‘I paint waterholes often,

homestead on Thalayindi where her father

particularly one area around my father’s

worked as a stockman and musterer. Whilst

Country, Murrumbiina Yirnda. My family and

the home she lived in with her family is

In contrast to the imagery that is visible through satellite cameras, her painting radiates a warmth and familiarity with Ngarluma Country as it embraces the river. The Country around the river blossoms into fields of exuberant colour, creating a quilt of forms and shapes that gently curve to nest against the other. As Jill explains, she uses colour to reflect her sensory experience of Country. ‘There are times in a season when the Country is literally blooming with reds, blues, and pinks that are vivid and very bright. At other times, the Country is turning brown and yellow, and I transfer what I see onto my canvas. It depends on when, and

In the bush, Jill enters the realm of tactile, sensory awareness. Through feeling the smooth contours of grinding stones that are found out in the flat country, or understanding where the bush medicine marda wood will cluster in crystals on trees, Jill’s experience of Country is sensory; it’s about feeling and seeing the bush, which she then translates into painting. It is through observing these subtleties in nature that a more complex understanding of Country is reached, one which fuses topography, geography and feeling together, so that

part of Country, and many of my father’s

memories of growing up around this site. ‘We

songs and stories relate to this place and

spent our childhood years playing around

it is a source of inspiration translated into

the huge river behind the house, there

paintings. My son, Andrew, is named after

was a vegetable garden which we raided

this particular place.’

regularly and we’d feast on wild honey and

Jill’s father, Bob Churnside had an encyclopaedic cultural knowledge. In the 1970’s, anthropologist, Carl von Brandenstein

connection to place.

recorded his songs and stories, some of which

Country is alive, or when the Country is

Jill uses scale to communicate the grandness


of Country through painting large works that evoke a sense of vastness, yet, within this

(Croydon Station), a swathe of Ngarluma

now reduced to a stone wall, Jill has strong

her work resonates with the strength of

at what time I’m painting Country, if the

I’ve been on trips with Jill to visit Thalayindi

I have a long and sacred connection to this

expansive landscape her detailed patterns and layers reveal the intricacy of the Pilbara

Country where she feels the strongest sense

environment in fields of pointillism. These

of connection. When the gate to Thalayindi

paintings are created out of her home studio,

is swung open, the highway that connects

a small, tin shed with a corrugated roof in

Roebourne to Port Hedland soon fades away,

Roebourne. This is a suburban type of setting,

and is replaced by open-ended bush. It’s a

yet, the Spinifex grasses that dominate

place of peace and tranquillity, removed from

the yard and the peacocks which clamour

the well documented hassles and problems

on the roof suggest that the wilderness is

of Roebourne. Jill becomes deeply immersed

always imminent. Jill quite literally brings the

in the sensory nature of this environment.

outside indoors, filling her home with pieces

date palms.’ Jill’s paintings of Thalayindi are filled with vitality and exuberance; they honour and celebrate a time of innocence

Jill’s involvement with a range of social

into three dimensional forms.

causes includes her engagement with the Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Native Title claim. ‘I

With funding from the Ngarluma Tharndu

heard about how Eddie Mabo put his claim

Karrungu Maya Ltd, Jill, in collaboration

in, and I thought it was important that we

with her sister, Broome based artist, Maggie

do something for our community too.’ Jill

Prewett, travelled to Brisbane for a week long

played a role in bringing people together in

workshop at Urban Art Projects (UAP). Once

meetings and engaging the elders who had a

again, Jill adopted a place-based approach

deep knowledge of culture and Country. The

to art; inspired by the landscape, she

fight for recognition of Native Title rights

investigated the form of an anthill, which is

was fought for over thirteen years before it

a distinctive characteristic in the Australian

was granted.

landscape and prominent in the Pilbara and Kimberly. With ties to Broome, the work

and connectivity that she remembers fondly.

In working around issues related to

developed at UAP reflects Jill’s pan-north-

were published in the book, Taruru: Aboriginal

It is not that she is weakened by nostalgia

justice, Jill has also been an advocate for

west identity.

Song Poetry from the Pilbara. In one of these

for Country; rather it is the place she knows

improved access to health as Chairperson

recordings, Churnside names all the pools

best, shaped through time and memory. In

of the Mawarnkarra Health Service, and

along the different river systems that run

Jill’s paintings, these stories, histories and

through her involvement in the National

through Ngarluma Country, naming over

emotions converge.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health

eighty pools, and describing the area around them. This mental cartography of Country expressed through modes of expression such as songs, and stories. In contrast to her father who worked on the Country around Sherlock Station, Jill lived most of her life in town and the city so the recordings from the 1960s are a valuable collection of in-depth knowledge about Country and ways of mapping it through song and story.

Whilst most of Jill’s work is inspired by Ngarluma country, she is also interested in the broader socio-political struggles of

Organization (NACCHO). These interests and life experiences find creative expression in her artwork.

Jill’s paintings are driven by the desire for a narrative. ‘I like to paint where there is an important story to tell,’ Jill says. The stories that Jill paints are drawn from the struggles and challenges of contemporary Indigenous history, and negotiate the deep cultural roots of belonging to the Ngarluma people. Yet, her

Aboriginal people. In the painting, Pilbara

Although Jill is an untrained artist, she has

works are also deeply personal, an attempt to

Strike for which she won the Hedland Art

been engaged with the creative sector in

condense the emotions and memories of the

Award, Jill depicts the 1946 strike where

Western Australia for many decades, working

past into the present.

Aboriginal pastoral workers and people

at the Biruk Marri Gallery in Fremantle for

employed in Marble Bar and Port Hedland

seven years, where artwork sourced from

demanded fair wages and working conditions.

around Australia, including Balgo, Waringarri,

Text floats into the work, demonstrating a

Utopia, and Ernabella was exhibited. Jill

She observes the landscape blooming

and materials collected from the bush. It

with purple minyjagarra (vick’s bush) and

seems that she is trying to replace the piece

Whilst Jill moved from the station to the

desire for narrative and for telling stories. In

began painting in 2005, and has primarily

thurlamardamarda (sturt desert peas), the

of her that is left back on Thalayindi.

old reserve in Roebourne as a six year old,

her painting about the once thriving pearling

worked in canvas although she is interested


application of Jill’s two dimensional works


Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator

Jill Churnside, Murrumbiina Yirnda Acrylic on Canvas 2013 128cm x 195cm Photograph: Bill Shaylor, 2013



Jill Churnside, Moorumburri’s Story, Acrylic on canvas, 2013 188 x 188cm - Photograph by Ross Swanborough

Jill Churnside, Yirndas, Acrylic on canvas, 2013 78 x 142 cm



Jill Churnside, Wundumurra (Sherlock River), Acrylic on canvas, 2013, 144cm x 193cm



New Songs, Old Country R.D. Wood, Writer & Historian

The tabi of the Western Pilbara are a vital form of Aboriginal song poetry. Aboriginal song poetry is a rich tradition in Australia. Across the continent different groups of people made song, which was often accompanied by dance. Although anthropologists, musicologists and literary historians have only recorded and examined a small fraction of this tradition there is enough richness and fullness in the archive to suggest how important song was, and is, to the daily and ceremonial life of people right across Australia. Songs were used for hunting, gathering, initiation, marriage, birth, death and other events. There was religious song, cultural song, political song and personal song. These songs were based on experiences that were mundane, everyday events, or, significant, rare occurrences. Song was an integral part of life and people in many communities continue these traditions albeit in a changed and adapted form. The Western

Travel Song Tabi in Ngarluma by Wajurrpirdi

Pilbara is no different, and Roebourne continues to be a location where Aboriginal song poetry is a vital part of culture, particularly at ceremonies such as initiations and funerals. Taruru : Aboriginal song poetry from the Pilbara is the foremost archival document of that local tradition. It was collated in the 1960s and 1970s by German anthropologist and linguist Carl von Brandenstein

jindiri jindirir pannina nuura parlgarragu warrimaregu jindiri jindiri pannina nuura parlgarragu walamarragu On and on, stepping it out Across the wide country, Across the plain. On and on, stepping it out Across the wide country In the heat of the day.

and West Australian writer Anthony Paul Thomas. It was published in Adelaide by Rigby in 1974. Taruru is an anthology of tabi composed in local Pilbara languages and translated to English. It relies on many local informants, foremost among them Bob Churnside (Parruru) who was a local lawman, stockman and maban man. He was a renowned singer and many of his songs travelled extensively across Australia, picked up as they were by devoted singers who were still immersed in an oral tradition. von Brandenstein transcribed and translated those songs by Churnside and others, turning that oral tradition into print. When it was published many scholars and intellectuals heralded it as an important addition to anthropology and poetry.

Vincent True at Nyiina Pool Sharmila Wood, 2013



The Bulbul Bird Tabi in Ngarluma By Walbjira

Bulbul pannii nurdu Bulbul pannii nuru murii tinamanma, jabulkurruu karadilpanuru Bulbul pannii nurdu Bulbul panni nurdu murii tinamanma, jabulkurruu kardadilipaia jinda nuru pannii Pabamudungana naiin wirlimanma, kurudakanma nuu jinda nuru pannii Pabamudungana naiin wirlimanma, kurudaga

In von Brandenstein’s anthology informants

Yet there are also reflections on ‘maban

are recognised and brought into the tradition

men’, sex and death which suggests how

of authorship.

perspicacious, resilient and relevant pre-

Bulbul is here Follow the stony creek, your track to northern shores! Bulbul is here This pool is ‘water throughout the year’ Stir my heart and also give it rest.

It was not only traditional songs that

This authorship may be connected to the form of the tabi, which are personal songs.

Although these tabi cover a wide range of

They are not ceremonial songs for initiation

activities, events and feelings, one is struck

or death, but songs that were sung on a

by their consistently compact character and

daily basis to pass the time. We could relate

clear simple language. It as though they are

to them as more of a pop song, rather than

meant to stick in one’s head during day to

a choral arrangement sung only at mass.

day activities. These experiences of daily

This does not diminish their musical claim

life, was not confined to the Western Pilbara.

but situates them in the context of their

Churnside and other composers travelled as


cattlemen and song men, dispersing some

influenced the tabi. We do not know the extent these songs were influenced by non-Aboriginal song forms, such as, the country and western lyrics that would become popular only a little while later, the bush ballads that had resonance for many

similarities in form and content with songs immediately to the north and east. Some of these tabi are known to have been sung in the Kimberley and Western Desert, just as songs from both those places found their way to Roebourne. Tabi, as an exemplary form of Aboriginal

lineage, or the radio news that helped people

song poetry, have faded from daily life in

understand their changing circumstances.

Roebourne. They have been replaced for the

What we can be sure of, however, is that

most part by non-Aboriginal song which

each of these other forms was in the same

reflects the rise of English and the decline

context that produced the tabi, one that was

of the Indigenous languages tabi were

an expression of daily life, emotions and

composed in. However, the tabi of Taruru

happenings around the community.

continue to influence other artforms and

Brandenstein recorded the tabi was changing and responding to broader global movements. The tabi reflect on that experience in ways that were unique and which reflected the local context. There are references to World War Two, horse racing and mail delivery, all of which suggest a non-traditional influence.


of these songs elsewhere, and there are

and emerged from a European troubadour

Life in the Pilbara at the time von

Binkathuringa (Dinner Camp)

colonial themes were to people using tabi.


provide a form of inspiration. They are not confined to history, but will continue to be relevant into the future and to stay with us as examples of feelings, emotions and beliefs related to different aspects of the physical and spiritual world.

The Rainbow Tabi in Ngarluma by Waljbira wandani karnakarnamaru palbarrgu nurna karnakarnamaru warumandanna nurla jirlikudi marnitamana palbarr warakanna Wherever I look up I see him in the sky Embracing all within; Rainbow! alight with colours, Clearing up the sky. Sherlock Station on Ngarluma country



Exploring the Digital Frontier

As my work progressed in the Aboriginal

Filming Reg Sambo at Binkathuringa (Dinner Camp)

Heritage sector I continually saw a different

Creating the Ngarluma map

application for Google Earth. I started my current work, which involved undertaking heritage surveys in the north of Australia, and I found that Google Earth helped me to visualise the places being depicted on paper maps because it gave details of the terrain, and you could see the car tracks and roads all over the land. These things helped to orient me in the landscape and I soon saw the way other Aboriginal people found it easy to navigate and orient themselves as well. For instance, I was sitting in an office in Roebourne with an old man who has now passed away, and we travelled along old dogging tracks that he had made in his days working as a dingo hunter. He used to go out for months on end with only fuel drums and a gun, he would travel solo through

understand land as being embedded with

recorder of songs and stories, but getting

very remote areas of Ngarluma Country, but

stories. By using high definition cameras, GPS

access to these recordings was not the easiest

because of his age he was no longer able to

and other new technologies, we are creating

process and I became very frustrated. When

take me to those sites. But we were able to

new cultural documents for people to use

we did eventually repatriate them, I took the

mark out a huge number of cultural sites

and refer too.

recordings to Roebourne and played them for

by just sitting at the computer and viewing Google Earth. This was the first time I saw the power of Google Earth as a cultural heritage tool. Frank Smith, Ganyurrunha Hill

Then, through Shakti and Elias from Curiousworks I saw how you could Andrew Dowding an anthropologist whose area

really emerged from my experience working

SW: How did you move from the need to

incorporate different media into Google

of focus is intangible cultural heritage. He was a

with Ngarluma elders. These people are

create a way of representing Aboriginal

Earth, from videos to photographs and audio.

co-founder of the Ngarluma Ngurra: Aboriginal

part of a generation who walked or rode

cultural values about Country, into the digital

We’ve expanded this function to create

Culture on the map and conceptualized the cultural

horseback all over their Country - they didn’t

sphere of Google Earth?

a rich, content-driven map of Ngarluma

mapping methodology using Google Earth. FORM’s

use vehicles, and they have an intimate

Sharmila Wood speaks with Andrew about the

knowledge of the land because of that. These

catalysts for the mapping project.

elders communicated to me that they would

database, which suggests that you see it as

elders, some of whom were very emotional about hearing my Grandfather’s voice again

a digital repository - How important is this

and there was a real sense of re-establishing

aspect of the project?

a connection with traditional stories and the genre of songs called tabi.

AD: Well, the idea of bringing together information in a way that is free, accessible

There was also a sense of pride that

and public where appropriate, is something

Ngarluma has this rich cultural body of

I feel passionately about. This is primarily

stories, songs and poems that the elders were

because the elders I’ve worked with have

remembering and exploring again. These are

expressed their desire to show that Australia

really precious because they are a snapshot

is not empty of culture, that this is not an

of cultural knowledge from the late 1960s

AD: Like many people I’ve used Google Earth

using it as a platform for the protection and

for everyday general directions, and because

preservation of Aboriginal culture. We have

I live down in Perth I really enjoyed being

asked community members to take us to

able to look at Ngarluma Country that I

a place they want to record content about,

There have also been some experiences

on knowledge orally from one generation

couldn’t visit in the Pilbara. It was through

and we record it with a film crew, and then

I’ve had that have influenced this belief.

to another have been slowly eroded, that

this function that I began to realise the power

incorporate that into the map for others

A turning point was discovering my

recordings and documentation are very

They wanted to document this information

of being able to see distant places and the

to learn about. This allows non-Aboriginal

grandfather’s recordings in an archive in

important - as was having this material

and make it accessible for future generations.

potential to overlay information about them.

people to see how Aboriginal people

Canberra. My grandfather was a prolific

readily available for people to connect with.

like to create a way to show how they are Sharmila Wood: Can you give us some

attached to places and how culture is related

background about how the Ngarluma Ngurra:

to these places in their Country.

Mapping Project began? Andrew Dowding: The seeds for the project

Country using Google Earth, with the aim of

SW: You mentioned the idea of the map as a


empty landscape devoid of any deep meaning and importance.

and it demonstrated to me that because many of our traditional forms of passing


Reg Sambo, Andrew Dowding, Keith Churnside, Vincent True, Frank Smith and Ricky Smith reviewing the map.

Jill Churnside holding Gardangu (Bush Lolly)

The other important factor was going to New

AD: Definitely. Over the past 100 years

SW: How is Google Earth different and why do

to see their elders and culture represented in

up until now it’s been television and DVDs

Delhi in India and working in the Archives

Aboriginal people have continually given

you see this particular platform as aligning

an exciting digital format. I see a real need

that have driven a need to record culture.

and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology

information to people in government

best with the needs of Aboriginal people?

for Aboriginal people to forge a strong digital

However, with the Internet you can connect

(A.R.C.E). I saw how lacking Australia’s

departments, in mining companies and

presence, for elders to harness these creative

to a massive audience with relatively little

cultural infrastructure is, and how the real

researchers who have valued that material

AD: Generally, cultural heritage databases

forces in this form of multimedia so they are

infrastructure and make a real impact if you

strength of A.R.C.E was their connection to

for the period that they have been engaged

solely rely on the use of text. The importance

in control of their digital identities. This will

have good digital strategies in place.

communities. I began to see how archives

with Aboriginal communities, but then have

of the online map is that it can demonstrate

be a big part of the next ten years.

were not only places for researchers to

made no attempt to repatriate it afterwards.

how Aboriginal culture is connected to land

compile or hold materials, that they should

It’s very sad because there is a lot of room to

and is not just about being on Country,

SW: How do you see Google Earth being used

this form of mapping as a cultural teaching

encourage this kind of repatriation in order

but is also about knowing your Country,

by Aboriginal communities in the future?

tool for their own communities, as well as

for Aboriginal people to control and access

which means knowing rivers, knowing the

their own socio-cultural information, now

tracks that get you to those places, knowing

and into the future - particularly when the

the historical roots that are embedded

most common practice is for this information

in that country. We now have leaders in

to be held in static archives that are located

our community who agree it is important

in places that are distant and foreign to the

information that younger people should have

Aboriginal community.

access too.

The new frontier for archives all over the

Google Earth is digital, it’s on the Internet, it

Canning Stock Route Project and others like

world is the movement towards digitising and

can be accessed by multiple users and that’s

the Mulka project in Arnhem Land, as well

repatriating, although this repatriation is not

the real power of the Internet: connectivity.

as Goolari Media in Broome, IcampfireTV.

happening fast enough. Aboriginal people are

There is now a new generation of Aboriginal

com and Juluwarlu in Roebourne are forming

offered, but also the desire to create a digital

frustrated because these precious resources

kids who have mobile phones that are 3G

digital identities and creating multi-media.

archive that, as opposed to traditional

are something that they want to utilise in

enabled and they have the Internet in their

archives, was accessible to the Ngarluma

order to teach their own communities about

hands. This map allows them to not only

community and the wider public?

their history and culture.

have access to their cultural information, but

not function in isolation from the people who own the content. Dr. Shubha Chaudhuri, the Managing Director of A.R.C.E, actively sought to engage the communities whose knowledge was stored in the archives by continuing to work with them, hand back materials and ensure ongoing cultural maintenance of their traditions. SW: So the idea of mapping country in this way emerged from a combination of realising the possibilities that new technologies


We’re hoping that more elders will adopt

educating the broader Australian community AD: With the promise of the National

about the precious cultural resource they

Broadband Network Aboriginal communities

have in their own backyard. Aboriginal

will begin to keep pace with the types of

people have lived here for millennia, and

digital identities that communities all over

have cultural, ecological and historical

the world are forming. It will take some

knowledge which is unique and needs to be

innovation, and brave elders to step into

acknowledged and valued.

that frontier, but we’ve already seen how the

Personally, I feel it’s the Internet which will drive the next form of cultural innovation;


Google Earth Outreach: Seeing is Believing Rebecca Moore

sovereignty of Indigenous peoples, and you

world just by studying the imagery we

This partnership has inspired many more

make it incredibly concrete. People get quite

publish, such as the coral reef specialist

indigenous groups in Brazil, Canada, New

emotional, and it galvanizes support for the

at Western Australia’s Department of

Zealand, Australia and around the world to

causes that these groups are advocating on

Environment and Conservation, who

create their own cultural maps. One such

behalf of.

discovered a previously-unknown fringing

cultural map is the Ngarluma Ngurra cultural

coral reef in the waters off the coast of

map, which will help to document and

Western Australia, just west of the Kimberley.

protect this endangered indigenous culture.

He was labeled a ‘Desktop Darwin’ for his

I’ve seen a preview, and it is truly beautiful.

surprise discovery.

We hope to see many more indigenous

It really ramped up when the Appalachian Google Earth Outreach was born in the Santa

I realized that anyone could do this. In fact,

that had used Google Earth successfully to

Cruz Mountains of Northern California,

when the word got out—it did get picked up

communicate what they had done, and the

where I live. Back in September 2005, a local

in the media that Google Earth had saved this

impact they’d had. It then went viral.

logging company announced plans to log

forest of a thousand acres of redwoods—all

more than a thousand acres of towering

these nonprofits started contacting me. Sierra

redwood trees in my community, in a

mountaintop removal project came out in 2007 and got a lot of attention. We also worked with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial

peoples releasing their own cultural maps

Museum to reveal the genocide that was

Meanwhile, Google Earth and Google Maps

built using Google Earth & Maps in the years

What we’ve helped these groups to

happening in Darfur, by taking people on

have been becoming more popular. As

to come.

Club, Greenpeace, from British Columbia to

understand is, you can take the whole world

a guided tour of all the villages that had

of today, more than a billion people have

watershed that supplies all of our drinking

Australia, people were emailing me to say, we

on a virtual guided tour of places on the

been burnt to the ground that you could

downloaded Google Earth. More than a billion

water. The map they sent out was just a

thought we might be able to use Google Earth

planet that may be under threat. Whether

see in the high resolution satellite imagery.

people use Google Maps every month. They

grainy black-and-white sketch, confusing and

in some way, but seeing what you did—please

it’s deforestation of the Amazon or elephants

Groups like Amnesty International annotated

are available in more than forty languages,

difficult to understand. My neighbours and I

teach us. How did you do that? How did you

being poached in Africa or mapping of

Google Earth with stories, photographs, and

on devices from laptops to cell phones. This

were worried.

bring the data into Google Earth? How did

Indigenous culture —often these are

interviews of people whose lives have been

seems to have fostered a new era of ‘geo-

you create the animated flyover? How are

happening in remote places, and it’s difficult

affected. When this came out, it got a huge

literacy’, democratizing access to satellite

you presenting it to politicians? Can you give

to communicate to the general public, policy

amount of global attention. In fact, human

imagery and mapping.

us advice and tips?

makers, and media, what’s at stake, what’s

Google Earth had just come out two months earlier. I wondered: what if I remapped the logging plan on top of Google Earth’s highresolution satellite imagery and 3-D terrain?

really happening. That’s when Earth Outreach was born. By

rights activists used this to galvanize changes by the government of Sudan.

Chief Almir of the Surui tribe in the Brazilian Amazon was the first Indigenous leader to

More recently we’ve worked with The

partner with us. In 2007, he requested a

Halo Trust, which is the oldest land mine

meeting at Google to see if we would come

eradication organization in the world. They

teach his people how to put themselves

are on the ground in some of the most war-

on the map—literally. Together, we created

torn regions of the planet, where there are

a multi-layered approach to protecting

old landmines and other kinds of detonating

their land from illegal logging that was

devices, left in the ground after war is over.

destroying their land and killing their tribal

magnificent old-growth trees that would

So this may be in Afghanistan or Angola, for

members. We taught the Surui how to create

be cut. When I presented this Google Earth

example. Literally, children cannot safely

a map of their significant sites - such as the

visualization at a community meeting, people

walk to school across a field without risk of

locations of important plants, animals, and

gasped with recognition. All of the issues

their legs being blown off. The Halo Trust

historical battles - to show the world the

were clearer. It galvanized opposition to the

is now using the high resolution imagery

Surui people’s close interdependency with

plan from within the community, local policy

with a grant of Google Earth Pro, to give

their rainforest home. We also built their

makers, and even Al Gore. The flyover was

them certain additional features, to plan

capacity to use sophisticated mobile mapping

featured on TV and radio news programs.

and manage these landmine eradication

tools to measure the carbon stock in their

Eventually we even used Google Earth to


forest, for placement on the carbon market.

I was hoping we’d get a better picture of what

now, I was working at Google (my dream job)

There’s that statement, ‘A picture is worth

was at stake. Over one weekend I created

and as a side project a few of us built the first

a thousand words’—well, I think flying

a ‘virtual flyover’ of the watershed showing

version of the website, with case studies, tips,

around in Google Earth is worth a million

tricks and tutorials. We offered free grants of

words. It’s very visceral, it’s extremely

our professional mapping tools to registered

concrete. You take an abstract idea, like

nonprofits. We encouraged those nonprofits

deforestation of the Amazon, or territorial

how close the logging trucks and chain saws and helicopters would be to schools and daycare centers, as well as photos of

prove that the logging plan was illegal, and

Surui Territory, Rondonia, Brazil seen in Google Earth

Rebecca Moore teaching Chief Almir how to put his tribe “on the map”

The great news is that Brazilian cosmetics People are also telling beautiful ‘geo-stories’

the plan was stopped.

using Google Earth, such as portraying the So that’s where it all started for me,

seasonal migrations of monarch butterflies,

seeing how Google Earth empowered my

birds and sharks. They are even making

community with information and the means

fundamental discoveries about the natural

to communicate our concerns so effectively.

giant Natura Cosméticos recently purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets that the Suruí developed by saving their endangered rainforest. It’s the first sale of forest-carbon credits developed by Indigenous people. Rebecca Moore in Chief Almir’s village, Lapetanha

Crisis in Darfur - traumatized children of Darfur



Appalachian Mountaintop Removal - former Cherry Pond Mountain, West Virginia



Wundumurra (Sherlock River) Water is the lifeblood of the country and the people.

In creating the Ngarluma map, we tracked

with each specific location, particularly those

along Wundumurra; the Ngarluma elders

inhabited by the warlu (serpent) and spirit

led us to pretty pools, filled with clear, cool,


Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation.

pools is a source of food and Ngarluma

Wundumurra (Sherlock River) emerges from springs in the Abydos Plains beneath the Mungaroona Range Nature Reserve, and tracks north through the Chichester Ranges. Along with the Maitland, Nickol, Harding, East Harding, George, Jones and Peawah

water. The life that flourishes around these

people fully exploited the resources available in these places. For instance, the Hamersley Bloodwood or wiranggura, was used in a range of ways, the deep red tree sculpted into tapping sticks, yarra (shields), wirrba (boomerangs) and binkubuntharri warnda (digging sticks). The gnarls from the tree shaped into elongated, oval yandi dishes, and the crystallized sap, barlgarringu, harvested

River(s), Wundumurra sustains and gives life.

as bush medicine, whilst the limbs of trees

The river supports a complex web of ecology

were scaled for marlhangarra (bush honey).

and spirituality, integral to Ngarluma culture. Many of the yirndas are associated with

A cultural landscape, Wundumurra is also embedded with memories and history. In the river, people fished for freshwater species such as milinja (perch), thayanggurl (catfish), and barumbara (barramundi); they

Based on information provided by Ngarluma elder

sourced bush tucker, including nhalawany

Robert Churnside, the linguist Carl von Brandenstein

(bullrush bulbs), ngarlgu (bush onions),

(1972) argued that engravings on shields from the Pilbara

and jurdimbiri (berries). In some places,

region reflected the bends and turns of important rivers

the old people encouraged family to speak

in the region; as such, shields were used in identifying

with the yirnda (permanent waterhole) to

connection to a particular river.

show it respect as a living being. Along the

Zig-zag wunda shield, artist unknown, Pilbara WA. Ochre on wood, 65.0 x 17.0 x 5.0cm. Cecil Keall Collection, c. 1898. Berndt Museum, UWA [WU10562] (Wooden shield, incised on both sides, front infilled with alternating red and natural-coloured grooves, back covered in red ochre.)

yirndas of Wundumurra, families gathered. Ngarluma elders recalled memories from the station days when the river provided respite from mustering work, and peaceful

Travellers cross Wundumurra on the North

ritualistic activity and in some places, thalus

West Coastal Highway connecting Roebourne

or increase sites are also found. These are

to Port Hedland. The bridge offers a vista

designed to ensure the proliferation of

along the river, which, during the dry

particular species, from insects to kangaroos,

(summer) forms embankments of undulating

and laws related to these sites function to

sand along which cattle wander, unearthing

maintain a balance in the natural order.

skeletons and other detritus buried under

Evolving over millennia it has been this

the water when the river is flowing. There

management of land and knowledge about

We have attempted to document some of the

is evidence of the wet during which the

shaping the Country which has enabled

intangible knowledge that is embedded into

river flows in torrents, visible by upturned

Ngarluma culture to thrive in this climate of

places along the river, however, it should be


noted that this is not a conclusive survey of

trees, their roots atrophied into the air, yet, it remains difficult to imagine that even in the

The river carries a complex, ancient

dry, yirndas (permanent waterholes) are an

and sacred web of culture, survival and

omnipresent feature of the river landscape.

spirituality. The sites along Wundumurra

For Ngarluma people and Indigenous

are not isolated places of significance; they

communities across the deserts of Australia,

are intricately connected to each other,

it was knowledge of these perennial sources

as expressed in stories and song. There is

of water which enabled survival.

cultural value and significance associated


moments with relatives. In recent times, the river reveals confrontations with colonialism, and pastoralism, evident where cattle had a destructive impact, polluting sources of fresh water, and pumps draining water for agricultural and domestic use.

Ngarluma sites along Wundumurra.

Sharmila Wood, FORM Curator

Incised spear-thrower, artist unknown, Cossack, Pilbara WA. Wood with spinifex resin and sinew, 57.0 x 10.0 x 1.5 cm. H. Aubrey Hall Collection, c. 1890. Berndt Museum, UWA [WU6382]

Hafted ground-edge Stone Axe stone axe, artist unknown, Cossack, Pilbara WA. Stone head hafted on split wood with spinifex resin, 43.5 x 19 x 7 cm. H. Aubrey Hall Collection, c. 1890. Berndt Museum, UWA [WU6369]


Barrga bulla Along the side of the muri (river) there is a group of thayimarra (cork bark trees) and nearby you will find a yunggu (soak). You’ll sometimes see mangguru (kangaroos) coming there to drink; they dig a hole to find water. A soak is a place where the water is stored below, and when the rest of the country is dry, or there is a drought, this soak always has water. You got to keep on digging until you find the clean water which is sometimes deep down; this is valuable knowledge, as it’s like a well so there will always be water.


There are many yirndas (permanent pools) along the Sherlock River, these are precious for Ngarluma people and are imbued with spirituality, culture, memories and histories. The places that you see along the following pages are only a selection of the yirndas that are found along the river. This journey begins from the mouth at Thaywillurrunha. Photograph Courtesy of Google Earth © 2013 Google © 2013 Cnes/ Spot Image © 2013 DigitalGlobe All content as spoken by Ngarluma elders 2013



Wunturrunha (Telegraph Pool)

Gurruynha Pool Our warlu’s (serpent) eye is here, he is lying down and his eyes are watching. You don’t go near him and don’t take photographs. We used to bring kids here; we had to make sure the kids behave themselves as serpents can hurt anybody. You have to stay on the northern side, on the southern side it is very

The white-fellas call this Telegraph Pool because telephone

bad and you don’t know what the warlu will

lines ran across here going to Hedland. My Uncle Dad was

do. If he hurts you, we’ve got no more maban

a linesman or telegraph man, he used to do the lines from

man to fix you, only maban man can see the

Roebourne to Hedland. All throughout the stations, Onslow

warlu in the shadows, that’s why you’ve got

and Roebourne there were telegraph lines, and that’s where

to talk to Country and let him know you’re

he got his name, the linesman. - Frank Smith

here and to show your kids.



Nyiina Pool

You get jigurra (bony bream) here during the dry (summer time) when the old people used to say ‘c’mon, we’re going netting’. In Ngarluma language a net is thagurra. People would come here with the thagurra, dragging it along to get jigurra. Vincent True at Bindunha

The old people used to make the thagurra hunting nets from baru (spinifex), unprocessed baru was pushed through the water up to the bank of a creek, and it was used to catch fish by dragging them


through the water. Bardurra (turkeys) and wurdawurabanggagu (ducks) were also trapped with baru. Bardurra nets were made from mina which was a softer kind of baru Frank Smith and Vincent True.

Bindunha Pool is located along the Sherlock River, there are many marndas (rocks), thaylgu (paper barks), wiranggura (red river gums), wirlu (white gums), and marduwari (bull rushes). Close by to Bindunha you find Jurdimbiri, this is similar to a wild currant which tastes sweet and has many seeds inside. The roots or jirla can be soaked or boiled in water to make a jami (medicine) which can be used as an eyewash for sore eyes or as a wash to cool an overheated body.



Jim Fredericks, Vincent True and Colin Churnside at Wurrunha Pool

Vincent True at Madabri

Wurrunha Pool (Tapas Pool)


At Wurrunha (Tapas Pool) there are thaylgu

At Madabri pool there are thaylgu

daytime that bird whistles and at night time

animals, plants or other natural phenomena.

(paper barks), wiranggura (red river gums),

(paperbark), and wirranggura (red river

he has a different call, because of this, the

These practices are performed to enhance

wirlu (white gums), and marduwari (bull


old people used to tell us that he has two

the natural environment through increasing

different languages, but it’s the same bird.

the quantity of a particular species. In 1901,

rushes). The marduwari roots can be eaten, To the east is Whim Creek and to the south

you pull out the plant and then peel out the bulb at the root. The yumburrungu or small, white tuber can also be eaten.


John Withnell noted that there was a separate

is Rocky Pool and to the north is the highway

There are plenty of guyurrga (freshwater

bridge. To the west there are some black hills

mussel) found here, you get these from

which are also called madabri. On the hills

the water and inside the shell is an edible

we have a lot of rock carvings and a thalu

mussel. We used to eat the shell meat inside

(increase site) for the bugabugara bird.

which comes from the fresh water.

The bugabugara bird will bring you bad news

A thalu site is also known as an increase site

about someone who has died. For example,

and is a place that is generally associated

you may have lost family somewhere and

with ceremonies to ensure the continuation

this bird will bring you that news. In the

and or proliferation of particular species of


site for each living thing, not only those that are important or edible. In this way, thalu sites were for encouraging a balance in the ecosystem. The thalu sites can be small and invisible to those who do not know their location - Vincent True, Reg Sambo and Frank Smith.

Mathanygurra (Rocky Pool)


We used to come here netting for fish in the summer time,

This is a large yirnda, it’s a permanent pool of water.

it’s a good place for jigurra (boney bream). The old people

My family used to work out here on Sherlock Station,

like eating jigurra when the water is low because they get

I’d come out here with my parents, brothers and

fat and that’s when we come with the net along this pool.

sisters, we’d go fishing here, sometimes we’d go to

There are thaylgu (paper barks), wiranggura (red river

other yirndas. In the summer time we’d come here.

gums), wirlu (white gums), and marduwari (bull rushes).

There’s lots of shade, you can come here, sit down under the shade and have a rest. - Frank Smith

Wiranggura is a deep red in colour and it was used to make different tapping sticks, yarra (shields), wirrba (boomerangs) and binkubuntharri warnda (digging sticks). The gnarls from the tree are used to make yandi (oval shaped and curved bowls) that carry bush foods and water. You can find marlhangarra (bush honey) from this tree.



Reg Sambo at Gurnanananra

Gurnanananra Kunanganarra is a yirnda (pool) with many

I’ve come back after being away for so long. I’m

thaylgu (paperbarks) and wirlu (white gums)

a Ngarluma person. I was here a long time ago, I

reflected in the yirnda, it’s a place with lots of

know you and you know me. Please don’t harm us,

shade. When Ngarluma people visit this type

we didn’t come here to harm you.- Reg Sambo

of place we need to greet the Country and at places such as these we say: Hello Country, Keith Churnside at Sherlock Station





This is a big yirnda (pool), a lot of people used

fishing or hunting. When the station people

to live here, there used to be a house on the

were doing the boundary rounds fixing fences

bank where people would stay, these days

they would stop at Kangan to have dinner.

no more people are living at Kangan. There Kunaguna is also called Thayanggurl Pool (Catfish Pool). Many Aboriginal people came here for thayanggurl (catfish). Gumin Muri (Creek) is also here, it comes from the south and flows into Kunaguna Pool. When you

are a lot of thayangurl (catfish) and millinja (freshwater perch), as well as thaylgu (paper bark), and gurlibirn (tea trees). The landscape has changed because it used to be clear along the banks, now there are lots of thaylgu.

travel further up the Sherlock River you find Warluthurnii, and past this is Kajirigabu (also

People would visit from the stations, riding on

known as Edgar Springs).

yawarda (horses) or walking; people would go



When you go to a yirnda like this you have got to talk to it, to the yirnda ngurra (serpent), then you can throw in your fishing line and the yirnda will give you some fish. If you don’t talk to it, the yirnda will get wild, and the yirnda ngurra will send a big yungu mirrga (willy willy).

Jeannie Churnside fishing at Kangan Pool



Binkathuringa Dinner Camp

This water is called Binkathuringa, the whitefella’s calls this place, Dinner Camp Pool because when we were mustering we’d have lunch or dinner before driving all the sheep back to Bumiji Outcamp. - Reg Sambo

Reg Sambo at Binkathuringa



Jeannie Churnside, Rebecca Churnside and Jill Churnside at Thalayindi

Moonrise at Thalayindi


Thalayindi is the homestead for Croydon Station that sits on the banks of the Sherlock River. Now, there are only remnants of the old stone house that once stood nestled into these hills. Many Ngarluma people grew up around this area, living in the old camp that was adjacent to the main house. They worked as general station hands, stockmen and domestic labour undertaking duties such as mustering, fencing, shearing and housework for the station owners up until the 1960s when people moved into Aboriginal reserves near Roebourne from the stations. There used to be old law grounds in the creek bed nearby the homestead that is now washed away. Thalayindi, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia



Rebecca Churnside, Jeannie Churnside and Jill Churnside at Murrumbiina


Many families visit Murrumbiina to camp

Ngarluma people used to eat the beetle by

and also to fish as the yirnda (pool) is

cooking it in the middle of the coals. You have

plentiful with thayangurl (catfish) and milinja

to perform a ritual and then the beetles will

(freshwater perch). This is a homeland for

come out; you take a special grinding stone

many Ngarluma people on Croydon Station.

that can be found underneath the rock and

People come to hunt around this area,

then you rub this onto the flat thalu rock, then

and further up the Sherlock at Boweerana,

you call out names of the places where you

Marripiyanha, and Gawinbayi.

want the beetles to breed. It’s a dangerous place, so it’s best to leave it alone.

Murrumbiina means beetle and this place also has a thalu, an increase site that is next to the yirnda, it is a big granite rock which sits atop the other rocks and looks like a large table.



Photo: Jim Fredericks and Keith Churnside at Murrumbiina



Jim Fredericks at a camp site, Sherlock Station

Bawarrunha (Old Stockyards)


Gawinbayi was an outstation mustering

My mother was born down at the river, here at Bawarrunha (Old Stockyards), this

camp. The old people used to go and do

is our Ngarluma Country at the back of Croydon Station. My mother’s been round

mustering on Croydon Station, they had to

here as a young girl. When I was a young fella everything was different here, what

muster all the paddocks. The main camp

I see now, everything is just about gone since when I was jackarooing around here.

used to be where everyone would stay, it

The house that I knew there is all gone, the kitchen gone, where the workers used

was the only building. - Jeannie Churnside

to work and even old Johnny Walker’s place, and the wool shed, that’s all gone. It was a good memory, still in my heart. That old place could have been restored to its beauty, but these are distant memories. - Jim Fredericks

Jeannie Churnside



Gurgarra Pyramid Hill, my old people came from this place. This hill has a younger brother over near Cooya Pooya. A long time ago they had a fight. The other one hits this one on the head and today we see the lump that formed on this head after he had been hit. - Reg Sambo



Stories from Ngarluma Country In the Ngarluma language we call the Bloodwood tree, a Barlgarringu tree, this produces a crystallized red sap, it forms crystals which you can see where the old parts have been weeping, and it’s blood red. It comes out of the little holes and produces a beautiful red medicine. When it’s weeping a big glob sits there and when you take it out,


it’s really soft and then the more you remove the more it bleeds and it can go on and on. Sometimes you can get big globs of crystal that sit on there, you pull it out and put it in the mug, it’s used as bush medicine and

It makes your spirit feel free in the Country, you feel good. We only got Country left now. Only got this land left for our generations and our families, that’s all we got, land. We are the caretakers of this land.

it’s very bitter. You only need a little bit and people put it in boiling water, let it cool then they drink it. A lot of local people are always out looking for it. - Jill Churnside

Pansy Hicks

Keith Churnside collecting bush medicine from the Barlgarringu tree



Ernest Lund, Pearling luggers off Roebourne, 1911. Photograph courtesy of State Library of Western Australia

Cossack, Alistair Paterson Head, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia


The Ngarluma name for Cossack is Bajinhurrba. This is an old ghost town and in its heyday was a big busy pearling port. There were pearling luggers in the creek, and the white pearlers used Aboriginal people as slave labourers for diving. Records say that men, women and even children as young as ten, were used for diving down and collecting pearl shells. Ngarluma culture values pearl shell as significant ceremonial items that hold sacred exclusivity to men. Hence, placing Ngarluma women and children in constant contact with pearl shells continuously broke cultural and gender taboos. There was a large Asian population here, and as you wander along in different parts of Cossack there are remnants of blue and white pottery that they brought with them when they came on the luggers. It’s also been a very popular spot for archaeologist and anthropologists. For Ngarluma people and many of the other Indigenous people we gather here and do our fishing, swimming and fossicking, catching our food. - Jill Churnside.


Aboriginal prisoners outside Roebourne Gaol, 1896

Historic Photographs Cossack, courtesy of Hon. Peter Dowding


Daryl Jones, Cossack, Oz Aerial Photography, 2008




Me and my brother put this house up, more than 40 years ago, I think. I used to live here when I was a young man, with our parents, working on the station. My Mum and Dad used to sleep on tin beds, and my brother. We built this little house ourselves, with bits of iron tin from here and there. We got some of the tin in the roof from the other house; we chopped the trees around here with an axe and made them into posts. There were some bits that were only tied with a wire, no nuts and bolts. It’s strong and still standing today. It got a bit hot here during the summer with no windows, but it kept us dry when the cyclones came. We was quite happy, quite satisfied, couldn’t ask for more than that I guess since we built this with our own bare hands. I think our boss was too mean to give us something decent. I haven’t been back here since the 1960s. The old house is still standing today. - Reg Sambo

Reg Sambo at his old house, Bunjina





Aboriginal people call this place, Buriyamangga (Red Rock) Pool, which is on the Maitland River. When I was young we would come here from Cherreta Station where I was stopping. Violet and me we used to come to the river. We used to walk from Cherreta Station to here, do some swimming, fishing have some lunch and go back in the afternoon then go back to Cherreta. - Pansy Hicks



Daryl Jones, Cape Lambert, Oz Aerial Photography, 2012



Cooya Pooya Station

Me and my husband used to stop in this house here on Cooya Pooya Station, he used to go mustering and I used to be here. I used to go fishing down at the river, come back with a fish and cook it up. My husband would come back late and I was doing the cooking here, you know. This was a sheep station, my husband and Betty’s husband used to go mustering with the sheeps, all the old fellas were here too and would come back in the afternoon. Our station manager was Bruce Patterson. We used to go to town and come back on the weekends, come back to here then. Those good old days, there was no alcohol in town, we’d just go meet our families and see our families. He was here for three or four years working. This is Ngarluma land too, dam is Ngarluma land. We got to come and see it back again. – Pansy Hicks

Pansy Hicks at Cooya Pooya Station



Gurnabuga As a kid I’d come here to Gurnabuga Pool,

When I was growing up people used to live

which is on the Harding River with my

other side, where the hills are, old reserve

grandfather, we’d come with them to

was just starting and there were only a few

have lunch, and dinner. They used to cut

houses in the old reserve. People used to live

boomerangs, and spears from the trees. My

here as well, probably from the station areas,

grandfather would climb up the trees, get all

when there were no more jobs for them on

the bardi grub, then he used to sing out to me,

the station. They got moved from the station

come here grandson and he’d chuck it down

to two mile or ended up here, Ngarluma and

to us, we’d catch it in the billy can or our hats.

Yindjibarndi people. When I was going to

Then he’d say watch this and it would go

school, we used to come out here hunting. The

straight down the hatch, live, still kicking. He’d

old people used to know when this water was

bite the bottom off and chuck the head away. –

drying up. I remember one time we came with

Keith Churnside

two old fellas from the old reserve, they shot a small kangaroo and they tell us, you cook

When I was young I used to walk from the old reserve to here with the other girls, we used to come swimming, have a dinner here, and when its 3pm go back to old reserve again. Pansy Hicks

the kangaroo. Then, they went further up to the next pool and wait for the emus up there. Shot the emus further up at that pool, and they came back, carrying the emu on their shoulder. – Reg Sambo



Inthanoona Station

Inthanoona was a pastoral station which

Pooya, Mount Fisher, Old Sherlock, Andover,

has an assemblage of more than 250 rock

Tambrey and Mount Welcome. The stations

engravings. These include images of clothed

were mainly in Ngarluma country, as well

men and women, guns, horses, sheep, wheeled

as Jaburrara, Kariyarra, Yindjibarndi and

vehicles, houses and ships. These engravings

Marthuthunira land. All were established as

were used by people of the Pilbara during

sheep stations. The settler invasion of north-

the early phases of contact to represent

west Western Australia followed quickly

aspects of the frontier. Rock engraving in the Pilbara region was an integral part of tradition. Ngarluma country has an immense

on the heels of the explorations of Francis Gregory; early station homesteads were nodes of settler activity.

wealth of rock engravings depicting animals, human figures, tracks and implements. Some engravings were renewed as part of rituals, and it is clear that engravings are the physical symbols of cultural practice.

Reference: Alistair Paterson and Andrew Wilson, Indigenous perceptions of contact at Inthanoona, Northwest Western Australia Archaeology, School of Social and Cultural

These engraving sites exist on the stations of

Studies, University of Western Australia,

Inthanoona, Old Woodbrook, Spring, Cooya

Crawley. All photographs courtesy, Alistair Paterson Head, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia



Freshwater meets Saltwater

This waterhole runs from Balla Balla Creek, it

All the year round is fresh water. Kangaroos

There is the date palm which the Afghan

flows from Whim Creek. There is fresh water

and animal come here. There are galhuburlu

cameleers grew, after eating a date they would

on one side and other side of the limestone

(bullfrog) a big source of energy food which

put it in the ground and you can see how they

ridge is saltwater. We used to come and camp

come out after the rain, you hear him croaking

grow all over the country where they travelled

here as children with our parents and mali

in the mud, just dig it up and put him in the

on their camels. - Keith Churnside

used to bring me here, we’d camp and catch

bucket. We’d go and make a fire, chuck the

fish on the ocean side. Now there are a lot of

galhuburlu on the fire. Eat the galhuburlu, it

caravans here and they have water pumping

tastes like a cross between mutton and pig.

into their caravans.

Ernest Lund, A camel train leaving Roebourne to bring copper ore from Croydon, 1911, Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia

Keith Churnside at the waterhole near Balla Balla Creek.




This hill is called Mirrganhuna. Old people told us a story about this hill, a man stole a woman from Balla Balla, they came this way and hid here, the other man was looking for his wife, he found them hiding away there, this was a long time ago and these men had maban (magic). So he found them hiding there. He grabbed his boomerang and threw it. The other man saw the boomerang coming. He deflected the boomerang with his shield and the boomerang hit the side of the hill. The boomerang hit the hill and carved the side. Frank Smith



Nganyinbuga Pool When this waterhole has dried up, kangaroos still come here and dig the moist soil but they can’t get too far with their little hands, so me and my old hunting friend have come here many times and used a little shovel to dig up enough water for them. This water will fill up when the next cyclone comes or the next storm and then this waterhole will fill up with clean, clear crystal water. - Keith Churnside

Keith Churnside at Nganyinbuga Pool



Nyana Pool I used to come here, to Nyana Pool, when I was a child. This place has changed now. There’s not a lot of water now. It’s like a spring country with the paperbark and cork bark trees and reeds growing in this spring country and water. This is a good place for kangaroos in summer time; it’s nice and shady in the water, a good place for dinner or a picnic, or catching fishes. We catch just about all those freshwater, and river fish here. That paperbark we use as an antiseptic medicine, for swelling and bruises. - Ricky Smith

Ricky Smith at Pyramid Station



Purple Murla Murla



Development Tabi in Karierra/Ngarluma by Tjabi magardu pannegu warngagu jurdujurdumalgu railwayline waranba narrii, pilamanula Pilbara Marndanullangana narrii, pilamanula turulgatirrijaba jurlga tumbu manarralaba walanmalgu Karrgarrninu

There he sits, bald as an egg And he wants to tell us That railway tracks will criss cross the desert, the liar! They’d even cross the Pilbara, near Warden’s Pool. So he lies, the idiot! Sand is all he’ll find up here To wipe his arse with,the big shot from Perth.

Daryl Jones, Baynton West, Oz Aerial Photography, 2012



When I was nine years old, my father allowed me to be fostered by an Asian couple who lived in Roebourne. I called my foster father Uncle Tommy and my foster mother Aunty Lulu. He was a butcher and also the town baker. Uncle Tommy was Chinese and she was Japanese.

Yee Palk General Store, 1961 - 69, John K. Ewers, Courtesy State Library of Western Australia

Stories from Roebourne Roebourne was settled in 1866, and is the

in the sky; the Ngarluma Warlu was pushed

oldest town along the Western Australian

back out to the sea, the Yindjibarndi people

coastline north of Geraldton. Aboriginal

were allowed to stay on Ngarluma land. The

people refer to Roebourne as Yirramagadu.

reserve was closed in 1975. Today, Roebourne

Following the 1968–69 introduction of equal

is predominantly an Aboriginal town with

wages for Aboriginal pastoral workers there

a mix of Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Gurrama

was an exodus from the stations where people

and Banjima people living here. Literacy and

had lived and worked into the Roebourne

numeracy levels are low, hindering access

Native Reserve. This was reported to be the

to the limited employment opportunities

largest reserve in Western Australia. Along

available in the nearby larger towns.

with Ngarluma people dispossessed from

Ngarluma people also live in Wickham and

their lands were Yindjibarndi people who were


also displaced. When the Yindjibarndi people came onto Ngarluma Country, the Seaside

My fondest memories were of coming home from school at lunchtime and seeing a hundred loaves of bread coming out of an old style wood oven. My treat for lunch was a slice of freshly baked bread, spread with treacle on top. As a child I remember a number of Chinese people living in Roebourne, old Freddy Yee Palk who owned the General Store and lived across the road from us, frequently came to dinner at our place. There were other Chinese shopkeepers who lived in Roebourne too. Jill Churnside

Warlu that belongs to the Ngarluma got angry and arose into the sky to drive the strangers away. As the Yindjibarndi people feared for their lives they called out to their own Warlu

Stuart Gore, Washing clothes in the river, Roebourne, 1948, Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia

This place [Roebourne] is before Karratha,

I am always there to help anyone in this

before Dampier, we came before the mining

community, even with a little bit of bread or

company came. First town and so we still

meat or something. The door is always open

struggle here, the things that we want to

in my home for anyone. - Violet Samson

achieve out here you know. [We need] better place to live in, better homes, ... takes time,

that’s other side of Mallina, the old road going

time, time to fix it.

to Yandeyarra. My father’s country is Whim I was born in Cherrata Station in 1948, I had

Creek, Mum’s from Shaddock Station, she

seven kids, I only got four left, three passed

born there. I grew up in Cheeritha Station.

away. When I was six or seven years of age

I was about 14 when my mother had her

we moved into town, because Mum passed

last child and after she had a baby we lost

away I went to school in the Old Court House.

her and we were stuck with my Aunty. We

The old people used to take us fishing at the

lived in the old reserve. When I went to

Harding River from the old reserve with a

school, I had a job at Tom Lee’s, working in

net. We used to get a lot of fish. That is how

the shop, pulling all the bread out from the

we used to survive when we were down the

oven - before working there I was at Mount

old reserve. We would get bags and bags and

Welcome Station, me and my sister Violet,

go and feed the community and the people

wash the dishes, sweep the floor. These days

at the old reserve. It’s a good little town

in Roebourne we’ve got a swimming pool,

to live always; everyone knows the family,

new houses, but we need a new shop, and we

wherever grandchildren are, families looking

need more houses. - Pansy Hicks

after them. Old people were really caring

to save them. The two snakes fought a battle

sharing people. They left that value with me.


I was born around 1943 at Mount Cedric,


Keith Churnside near ‘Stone Hut’

Pansy Hicks and Vincent True on Yigagutharra

Stone Hut I’m told in the early days people used to live here and some Chinese tried to grow a vegetable garden


along the river, in those days many Chinese used to be working in the station as cooks and gardeners. They used to grow vegetable gardens wherever there was water and I believe many Aboriginal people The Aboriginal name for Pyramid Station is Yigagutharra. Many years ago there were stone

used to live here as well. - Reg Sambo

buildings along the bank of the river, when the people moved out, all the buildings got flattened out. I lived here as a kid and left to go to school. Come back, after I went to live and work in Croydon Station. This is where many people lived. My family used to work at the homestead we stopped further down towards Bunjina out camp, we used to work shearing time, bringing up sheep up from Bunjina out camp to here, they would get shorn in the wool shed. During shearing time we used to have two or three thousand sheep here, you can imagine all the dust we used to get from here down to the camp, but we managed somehow. They’ve only got a couple of round roofed buildings here now. During a big rain or cyclone time, the river used to come right up to the houses where we were staying. I used to like it here. - Reg Sambo


Distaff by Bob Churnside, Ngaluma and Niabai languages, Roebourne, Pilbara WA. Wood composite and human hair string, 48.3 x 10 x 12.7 cm. G.C. von Brandenstein Collection, 1964. Berndt Museum, UWA [WU1655]



Walina is another pool of the Maitland River. There are memories of my father, mother - everyone have a dinner in this river now. We used to come here, with aunties and uncles, happy times, swim in the river, fish, cook the fish. Go back to swimming again, have a little bit of a rest in this river. Go swimming again, it was during the hot, hot days, summer time. - Pansy Hicks

Cherreta Pool Cherreta Pool is on the Maitland. We used to come here when we was young, with the old people. There was a watermelon patch which was there, we used to come here and get some watermelons. The old people chuck some seed

Pansy Hicks at Cherreta Pool

when they see the clouds, when the rain come down it make the plant grow up, and there are many, many watermelons then. When the river is running everyone come here, camp, other river, this is a good place, there is a lot of water in this river. We caught some fish here, big ones, over where the rocks are, we used to go there fishing, get plenty of them. Come Pansy Hicks and Keith Churnside at Walina

back and cook it, we come here now; my sons take me down there to where the big gum trees are. - Pansy Hicks



Yirragudji Thalu

We have a Thunderstorm thalu (increase site). To make this work, the old people used to come and bring water in a billy can, when you come to this site, you bring water and wet it, then tell the thalu in Ngarluma language where you want the rain to go to. Old people take the rock and rub them together. If you rub them too much, you’ll get big lightning. Some old people come with a spear and talk to the site. They would poke the ground next to the site. If you throw the spear too hard, a big lightning will come. They came with a grader here once and the site was damaged by a grader, it flattened it and the rocks got pushed back. Luckily, the old people were here to stop them and they repaired the site. Frank Smith



Encountering Cultures The black and white photographs are by

town of Bajinhurrba more commonly known

From here, we travelled to the Burrup

the Indian photographer, Sohrab Hura who

as Cossack. Established in 1872, this town is

Peninsula, thought to have the largest

traveled to the Pilbara for the first time as

at the mouth of the Harding River. Cossack

concentration of rock art in the world,

part of an international residency in 2012.

was for many decades a hub of the West

estimated at perhaps a million petroglyphs. It

Australian pearling industry, a small but

is also the site of the Flying Foam Massacre,

bustling port, before it was abandoned in

which is a subject that Jill grapples with in

the 1940s. There is a lookout in Cossack

her paintings. The plaque on the site reads

from where you can see Settlers Beach,

‘Hereabouts in February 1868, a party of

Jarman Island, and the distant port. There

settlers from Roebourne shot and killed as

are iron ore ships on the horizon and the red

many as 60 Yapurarra people in response to

brick and white mortar historic buildings

the killing of a European policeman in Nickol

where river meets the sea. A cemetery with

Bay. This incident has become known as the

the headstones of Japanese and European

Flying Foam Massacre.’ This is a symbol of

settlers, are mostly young men and it

Aboriginal cultural heritage as well as an

suggests how tough and dangerous life would

ongoing site of contestation. The sun was

have been in Cossack and the surrounding

setting and kangaroos were bounding by, the

area. With the heat of the sun and the brutal

gas hub was in the background and the noise

wind, you feel what it may have been like to

of industry could be heard. The complicated

Diary Notes from Ngarluma Country, R.D. Wood reflects on a Pilbara experience with Ngarluma people.

September 28th, 2012 We landed in Karratha Airport at 10:30 am, arriving for a trip to Thalayindi (Croydon Station) and to film the artist, Jill Churnside and her family members as they returned to Country. It was balmy and warm, the sky was impossibly blue and the land was flat, red and dry with yellow Spinifex dotted throughout, with boulders and hills like a Wild West film. There were markings of

arrive in the frontier land.

legacy of colonial interactions remains present at the Burrup.

towards the North-East for Pyramid Station, and although this is relatively close to Roebourne, it feels remote and there is a

I haven’t bought meat from a super market for five years, I just eat kangaroo.

industry nearby, but these were dwarfed by

After Cossack we returned to Roebourne,

the expanse of natural space. From Karratha

Jill and Jeannie explained this was named

we drove to Roebourne where we met with

after John Septimus Roe. Roebourne was

the artist, Jill Churnside. With enthusiasm,

a gold rush town that was once the largest

Although we had intentions to leave early,

which we put it in the back of the car. By

settlement between Perth and Darwin.

there were delays because of a funeral in

early afternoon we had arrived at Kangan.

It includes historic buildings such as a

water and what they hunted. Station life was

operation – deft sharp movements misted

town. We left at 11am after collecting Jill

It is a beautiful deep cool pool with a rich

homestead, gaol with court and a reserve

reminiscent of a slower, fuller life. To be back

slightly by the heat coming from the freshly

Churnside, Jeannie Churnside, Rebecca

ecosystem of catfish, mangrove jack and

on country was an emotional experience for

killed kangaroo.

that was across the other side of the Harding

Churnside, Keith Churnside and Jim

barramundi; visited by kangaroos, dingoes

everyone and Jim repeated how the sound of

River; at sunset Aboriginal people had to be

Fredericks; the cars were loaded up with

and many types of birds. We set up camp

no cars was beautiful.

back at the old reserve.

swags, ice, supplies and a rifle. We set out

– billy tea and roo stew – and caught two

Jill mapped the next two days and described heading out to her family’s traditional country on Croydon Station; it was clear that for her returning to Country was about reconnection and renewal. Our first stop for filming was the coastal

September 29th

sense of risk attached to travelling this way. We made steady progress to Kangan Pool on

Keith Churnside

Pyramid Station, where Keith shot a kangaroo

oven. With a damper in a small one and

drove to the flats and set up camp, swags

potatoes roasted in foil, we sat round the fire

Later in the afternoon we set off for

rolled out on the red dust, cars parked at

and swapped stories. The jinda (coals) were

Thalayindi (Croydon Station). We stopped

angle to shade us when we woke up, fold out

doing their work, the meat tasted rich and

at a working homestead where there were

chairs round the fire. We collected firewood,

lean – it was gamey but tender and there was

chickens in the yard and a large vegetable

trying to avoid the splinters and shards that

plenty of it. With full bellies we climbed into

garden. Here we interviewed Jeanie, Rebecca,

stuck out from the Snakewood branches.

our swags and drifted off to sleep.

Keith and Jim about the station and their memories; they touched on mustering, childhood, station life, songs and dancing. The musterers would go out bush for two to three months at a time, living on flour and


guts before placing both in a large camp

With the sun down and the moon rising we


The Hunter, Sohrab Huram 2012

Keith chopped up the meat and washed the

Keith went out hunting and came back with another kangaroo tied to the front of his bullbar. He strung it up from a branch in a tree and skinned and butchered it. It was a skilled


Acknowledgements Throughout the map and the catalogue you will see four icons, these relate to different categories on Ngarluma country.

FORM gratefully acknowledges the

Thank you to Anthropos Australis for the

contribution and support of the following

in-kind contributions to the Ngarluma field

Ngarluma Ngurra partners and individuals:

trip. In particular, we are grateful for the

Principal partner, Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya Limited and the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation. Andrew Dowding who conceptualized and created the map in collaboration with FORM. The Ngarluma elders who have participated waterholes

vision and support of the Board of Directors and Staff at the Ngarluma Tharndu Karrungu Maya Limited and the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation. Published by FORM ISBN: 978-0-9872624-6-2

in, and encouraged this project: Pansy Hicks,

Written by Sharmila Wood

Reg Sambo, Keith Churnside, Jim Fredericks,

Curator Sharmila Wood

Jill Churnside, Jeannie Churnside, Rebecca

historic site

Churnside, Violet Samson, Vincent True,

Edited by Andrew Dowding,

Frank Smith, David Walker and Ricky Smith.

Sharmila Wood & Travis Kelleher

The Google Earth Outreach Team; Rebecca

Designed by Rodrigo Cassini

Moore, Founder & Manager; Allison Lieber,

Folklore Brand Storytelling

Program Manager and Raeleigh Seamster, Program Manager. The State Library of Western Australia; The University of Western Australia Berndt Museum of Anthropology and the assistance of Kelly Rowe, Assistant Curator (Collections) in working with FORM to loan objects from the collection, and Professor Alistair Paterson,

bush tucker

Head of School of Social Sciences University of Western Australia for his contributions to

FORM - Building a state of creativity

the exhibition and catalogue.

357 Murray Street Perth, Western Australia, 6000

The talented team who contributed to this

cultural site

project: writer and historian, R.D. Wood; Sam

T +61 89226 2799

Field & Alice Ross, Glare Productions; Andrew

F + 61 89226 2250

Dowding, Anthropologist from Tarruru, and

David Tryse, Google Earth Developer.

Earth Outreach

FORM is supported by the Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments. FORM is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Bidarra (White Cockatoos) in ight, Sharmila Wood 2013






Ngarluma Ngurra Catalogue  
Ngarluma Ngurra Catalogue