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'Canning Stock Route and Surrounding Country', 2008

Object type

Object number

A multicoloured textured painting on canvas with a road like stripe in yellow and maroon down the centre, flanked by blue circles with borders of green, beige, and maroon, some of which are covered with rows of dots. In the top right corner there are short orange lines surrounded by dots in yellow, red, blue, white, green and maroon. Another similar section is on the top left with light yellow lines with a background of multicoloured dots. At the centre top there is a section of green vertical stripes with orange and maroon. In the middle of the painting to the right of the road feature there is a long vertical strip containing horizontal stripes in maroon, green, light yellow and blue. To the right of that is a section of solid colour shapes in red, green, and beige. On the bottom edge is the text "Ngamaru Bidu + Mabel Warkarta Nora Wompie 08-122 Morika Biljabu Jakayu Biljatu", and at the right is "NB/MW/NW/KG/201/MM Bugai Whyoulter Rosie Williams". On the top edge is the text "Yuwali" and the left edge has the text "Dulcie Gibbs Marjorie Yates Thelma Judson 121 x 134 Nola Taylor".

This painting, which was produced by 14 women artists at Kunawarritji (well 33), represents a stretch of country crossed by the Canning Stock Route. It depicts a number of the waterholes that were made into wells during the construction of the stock route, but many other permanent and ephemeral water sources are also included. Kumpaya Girgaba laid out the initial design for this painting, which all the artists collaboratively customised and elaborated. When the painting was nearing completion, Kumpaya called out the names of all the waterholes depicted here. Some of those waters, north of wells 26 & 27, are: Milpuru claypan, Tutupa, Wawuly, Taarl, Mukutu, Yirtarra, Walawala (well 31), Nyarruri (well 32), Yarturti, Pitirti, Lungukurangu, Narturri, Yurukun,Nyipil (well 34), Kinyu (well 35), Pangkapirni, Kirlkirl (well 36), Wakanpa, Nanangpa, Mintikayi, Lipuru (well 37), Yanjiwara, Manjilatara, Jiti. When the stock route was in use as a droving highway, many of the artists relied on these other waters to ensure their safe passage through this contested land.

Collection name
Canning Stock Route collection

Collection statement of significance
The Canning Stock Route collection is comprised of 125 works and includes paintings, drawings, baskets, boomerangs, coolamons, headdresses, carved figures and shields.

The Canning Stock Route is a no-longer-used cattle droving route that traverses the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts of central Western Australia. Comprised of 48 wells along an 1800 kilometres stretch of track, the route links Wiluna in the south with Sturt Creek in the north and traverses the traditional lands of nine Aboriginal language groups. The route was founded in 1905 when Alfred Canning was commissioned to investigate a route suitable for the droving of 500 head of cattle, with water sources spaced at intervals of no more than one day's walk apart. Although Canning's map records observations of the land and water resources, it makes no mention of Indigenous places and their associated meanings which the route traversed. This collection, composed of 'painting stories', sculptural works and oral histories, re-dresses Canning's omission and records the impact of the stock route on Indigenous lives and country. A six week journey with traditional owners held in July and August of 2007 inspired the artworks, many of which were produced during the journey, and provided an opportunity for more than 70 senior and emerging artists to reconnect with traditional lands..

Kumpaya Girgaba

Ngamaru Bidu

Mabel Warkarta

Nola Taylor

Thelma Judson

Marjorie Yates

Dulcie Gibbs

Janice Nixon

Rosie Williams

Nora Nangapa

Bugai Whylouter

Nora Wompi

Jakayu Biljabu

Morika Biljabu

Production place
Kunawarritji, Western Australia, Australia

Production date

Associated organisation
Martumili Artists
Art centre

Associated place
Canning Stock Route, , Australia

Canvas, Acrylic paint

Width: 1290mm
Height: 2923mm

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