Natawalu: The helicopter story
Waruwiya [soak] and Pilalyi rock hole. I lived around here with my mother and father. Nyirla is our Country. I was walking around everywhere in that Country, that was the last time.
[Then] we travelled to them waterholes on the Canning Stock Road, until we came closer to Natawalu. That's where we saw a helicopter for the first time.
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Brandy Tjungurrayi, Warlayirti Artists, acrylic on canvas, 149 x 74.5 cm
I saw him go. That's where he went from, Helicopter from Natawalu, mother and son. We saw them later when we came along behind. No wagon, just camels. We were walking with them. One kartiya [white man] went and sold cattle at Meekatharra then he came back [up the stock route] and took us with him.
This painting depicts part of the Tingari song cycle related to the artist's Country, Nyaru. The ancestral figures Tjapangarti and Tjapanangka were painted up and had covered themselves in flowers so that they could not be seen. They were carrying firesticks and set fire to the Country, burning many people.
Josephine Nangala, Papunya Tula Artists, acrylic on linen, 102 x 78 cm
We saw this helicopter coming, up in the sky. We ran into the trees, frightened because that thing, like a windmill, might cut us up...And that helicopter been go and get all the tucker for us. We were eating, and they gave us porridge and rice and tea. Sugar, we ate it just like dry one. It was like the ones we get out of trees, utungu [crystallised sweet sap] we reckon...
Joey Tjungurrayi was [really sick]. He was nogood one, sore all around. And my auntie too, for Kumpaya mummy, Kupunyina. They took them two with them and I was thinking after, 'Ohhh, I should go to Balgo with them'.
Lucy Loomoo, Warlayirti Artists, acrylic on linen, 120 x 79.5 cm
Loomoo walked north to Balgo, with Josephine Nangala and her family, after Helicopter was taken away.
Ngakungtjuungka is her Country and part of her Dreaming. It is a tjurnu, or soak (also known as a yinta or living water), which lies a long way south of Balgo, close to Punmu in the Great Sandy Desert. This Country is rich with bush tucker. The dotting around the circle represents these bush foods, including kantyili or pura (bush tomato).
Richard Yukenbarri Tjakamarra, Papunya Tula Artists, acrylic on linen,
76.4 x 150.8 cm
Kalyuyangku is flat Country east of the Canning Stock Route between Kunawarritji [Well 33] and Jupiter Well. My father's Country.
Tingari Country and also Wati Kutjarra [Two Men] place. The Wati Kutjarra were cousinbrothers, Tjampitjin and Tjapaljarri, travelling north-east.
Richard is the son of Balgo artist Lucy Yukenbarri, and the stepson of Helicopter Tjungurrayi. Lucy was pregnant with Richard as she walked north along the Canning Stock Route after Helicopter was taken away.
Wimmitji Tjapangarti, Warlayirti Artists, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 cm
This painting describes the story of the ancestral Tingari men who travelled through the country east of the Canning Stock Route. Within this broader narrative, Wimmitji depicts the travels of the kipara (bush turkey) man and his family. The many water sources painted here were created by the kipara. Wimmitji, with his daughters Lucy Yukenbarri and Miriam Napanangka, was among the people gathered at Natawalu when the helicopter arrived. He was the last to come into Balgo.
Wimmitji came walking behind, with Wongwiya [his wife]. Last one.
Patrick Olodoodi (Alatuti) Tjungurrayi, Kiwirrkurra, 2009
Holmes à Court Collection