NARRATOR: Martumili Ngurra. This is all Martu’s home.
In 2009, six artists from the community of Parnngurr painted their Country, encompassing sections of the Little Sandy, Great Sandy and Gibson deserts. The stories of people continuing to make their homes in the desert and understanding the pathways of their ancestors.
This collaborative artwork identifies many significant cultural sites, like waterholes, including those in the Seven Sisters’ journey, many of which are now wells on the Canning Stock Route and instructions on caring for Country, with seasonal burning promoting growth and regeneration.
Text: When the National Museum acquired this artwork, the artists came to Canberra to tell their stories.
NGALANGKA (NOLA) TAYLOR: This is our map, how we do on the ground, long before we see map today about Australia. This is how our mothers had done it on the ground. They painted, drawed it on the ground, showing all the waterholes. And they done it long before white people arrived in Australia.
JAKAYU BILJABU: They used to drink from these rockholes – Parnkalyirri, Ngarnkurrpa and Kurrpulu – all the way to Parnngurr, all of these got their own names. It was along this track that they got us and took us away. We went from here. The government people got us here and took us away.
NGAMARU BIDU: It was at Punmu that we went from there in a vehicle blowing smoke. Our group did the painting from here right up to Karlamilyi. It was somewhere here. We were bush people and they took us away. In that area. They got us at Wyinukurrujunu [Blood Bank].
At Wyinukurrujunu we were there, all the family – Biljabu family, Bidu family and Itiwana family. We were all together as one big family. After that we left that permanent water for good and went to Yulpu soak. The other group kept following us across and on top of the ranges.
NGALANGKA (NOLA) TAYLOR: And all these lines that look like red, and all the lines around it, they are newly burnt area. We do our burning to bring up our regrowth food, like bush tucker.
THELMA JUDSON: We did this for Talawana, where the windmill is on the eastern side. From there we made this track. We kept on following the Country along there, right up to Punmu. Then it goes on to the Karlamilyi River.
This part of it is my painting, in this centre area. See the waters, the soak waters? There were two of my mothers, another relative and others, we all painted this. We worked on this for a long time. Not just one day, no. It was our work.
We all kept getting up early each day for it, to do this big painting. We would eat at the shed where we painted this painting. We would go without having breakfast at home and have it in the shed. We would keep painting each day till late in the afternoon. Then go back to our houses.
Then the next day we would get up again. We did not do this one day. It took us three weeks to do this. A long time. We would paint a bit of it, then we would have a rest. Then we would get back to it again. We painted it well like that and levelled the sections as we went.
They told us, we’re going to take this to Canberra, and here are the artists who painted it. We followed our painting to Canberra. That is all now.
Text: In Aboriginal cultures across Australia, the Pleiades star cluster is associated with the story of the Seven Sisters. Minyipuru Jukurrpa is the Martu version of this story.
Nyiru chased the Seven Sisters across Australia from the west to the east. This story explains the creation of parts of Martu Country.
NARRATOR: That’s where the Minyipuru went, Seven Sisters Dreaming, from Roebourne. From Roebourne they were Yindjabarndi and as they travelled through all the countries they changed their language.
From Yindjabarndi, this is the Warnman version of the Minyipuru story. From Wilpuripungu, Munguwi and Parnngurr rock hole, as well as many other waterholes. They landed at Pangkapini [between wells 35 and 36], creating waterholes as they went. Nyiru was laying down on his stomach in the west, watching the Seven Sisters as they travelled through the Country.
When they finished their travels they went up into the night sky and we can still see them today.