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Warning: This website contains names and images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

About Songlines

Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters is the first exhibition of its kind, attempting to tell in an exhibition space an Indigenous founding narrative by using Indigenous ways of passing on knowledge.

The project was inspired by an investigative collaboration between senior custodians of Martu country and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Ngaanyatjarra lands of Australia's Central and Western deserts, along with the National Museum of Australia, the Australian National University and other partners. More on the community collaboration in our Museum news

  • A woman stands before a camera, watched by four other people in a darkened studio
    Filming a welcome video
  • A man sits on a rock in a cave with rock art above, a video camera and five people at right
    Filming at Cave Hill
  • Three women look at five ceramic pots on a bench
    Sharing collaborative artworks
  • A man looks to the distance in a desert landscape while being interviewed by one woman. Another woman sits writing notes
    Visiting Kungkarrangkal site
  • A group of women.  Three are standing, dancing, and the others are seated.
    Curatorium meeting
  • A group of women sits around a circular canvas in the desert
    Minyari camp painting
  • Three artists seated on the ground working on a large painting
    Visiting Karrku outstation
  • A man looks into a virtual reality headset
    Reviewing VR footage
  • A sihouetted man with a video camera
    Early morning filming


Songlines curatorium

The curatorium comprises community nominated representatives with senior status from Martu country and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Ngaanyatjarra lands. They are not a reference or advisory group, but knowledge holders of the cultural material in this exhibition and directed its representation in collaboration with the Museum. A small group of spokespersons reported on matters concerning the wider group.

  • Man holding a patterned vessel
    Tjutjuna Paul Andy
  • Portrait of a woman
    Alison Milyika Carroll
  • Portrait of a man
    Tapaya Edwards
  • Portrait of a man
    Murray George
  • Portrait of a woman
    Kumpaya Girgirba
  • Portrait of a woman
    Rene Kulitja
  • Portrait of a woman
    Pantjiti Lewis
  • Portrait of a woman
    Pantjiti McKenzie
  • Portrait of a woman
    Josephine Mick
  • Portrait of a woman
    Anawari Inpiti Mitchell
  • Portrait of a woman
    Jennifer Nginyaka Mitchell
  • Portrait of a woman
    Julie Porter
  • Portrait of a woman
    Kanu Nancy Taylor
  • Portrait of a man
    Muuki Taylor
  • Portrait of a woman
    Ngalangka Nola Taylor
  • Portrait of a woman
    Lalla West
  • Portrait of a woman
    Inawinytji Williamson

Major exhibition partner, elders and supporters

Thank you to our major exhibition partner The Scully Fund, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) elders and supporters, Ngaanyatjarra elders and supporters, and Martu elders and supporters.

Art centres

Martumili Artists, Maruku Arts, Minyma Kutjara Arts Project, Ninuku Arts, Papulankutja Artists, Spinifex Arts Project, Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Tjungu Palya Arts, Warakurna Artists, Warburton Arts Project

Martumili logoMaruku logoMinyma Kutjara logoNinuku logoPapulankutja logoSpinifex logoTDW logoTjungu Palya logoWarakurna logoWarburton logo

Alive with the Dreaming! Songlines of the Western Desert partners

Australian Research Council, Australian National University, Ananguku Arts, Australian Heritage Management Solutions (AHMS), Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPYWC), National Museum of Australia, the Australian Government and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, University of New England (collaborating organisation)

ANU logoAnanguku Arts logoNational Museum of Australia logoUniversity of New England logoNgaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara logo

Other supporters

Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, Artback NT, Desart, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ), Country Needs People

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara logoKanyirninpa Jukurrpa logoCountry Needs People logoArtback NT logo


Travelling Kungkarangkalpa is staged in DomeLab, a collaboration between the University of New South Wales and the National Museum of Australia, together with nine other tertiary and cultural organisations. It is funded as part of an Australian Research Council LIEF grant (2015) led by chief investigator Professor Sarah Kenderdine.

Cave Hill Project

The Cave Hill Project is a joint initiative of APY, the Cave Hill Custodians, National Museum of Australia and the Australian National University on behalf of the Songlines Project ARC Partners and they were supported through funding from the Australian Research Council.

Editorial note and glossary

This website presents word forms, object titles, cultural affiliations and names as advised by the communities and individuals involved in the exhibition. For different language groups, variant spellings occur for similar words, cultural groups or names. The Museum acknowledges that some of the Ngaanyatjarra speakers in this book identify as coming from Ngaatjatjarra Lands.

Commonly used terms include: inma for ceremony/ceremonial song and dance; Jukurrpa/Tjukurpa/Tjukurrpa for Dreaming; Kampukurta for the eldest sister; Minyipuru/Kungkarangkalpa/Kungkarrangkalpa for the Seven Sisters; ngurra/ngura for home, camp, traditional lands; pujiman for traditional bush/desert life; walka for design; Yurla/Wati Nyiru for the male Ancestral being who pursues the Seven Sisters.