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Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33), 2022

$1,490.00

  • 91cm x 91cm
  • 2022
  • Acrylic On Canvas
  • Catalog No: 1115-22-387

“We went to Kunawarritji. We went out to see the waterholes with Kumpaya [Girgirba], my aunty – my dad’s sister. It’s the first time I went in a chopper to see the waterholes. Kumpaya take me to show me the waterholes, show me my father’s Country. It was good. I went first to see the waterholes and then I start painting. The waterholes are my father’s Country.
We go out there sometimes, but now I’m doing a lot of painting there in Punmu. I was learning to make a painting now, with the old people. But they all passed away now. And they told me, ‘you can do you own Country, your dad’s Country’. And I made a couple of paintings of my father’s Country. They were telling me, ‘just do your father’s Country, Kunawarritji’.”
– Debra Thomas
Kunawarritji is an important site in the Great Sandy Desert where multiple stories and histories intersect. Originally a spring water and major Martu pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) camping site, at the turn of the 20th century Kunawarritji was converted into a well along the Canning Stock Route. Each year throughout the 1930-50s, the well became a site of contact between the drovers, their cattle, and desert families. 
Long before colonial history entered this Country, however, other stories dominated the site. Primarily, Kunawarritji features in the Minyipuru (Jakulyukulyu, Seven Sisters Jukurrpa (Dreaming). Minyipuru is a central Jukurrpa narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation. Beginning in Roebourne on the west coast of Western Australia, the story morphs in its movement eastward across the land, following a group of women as they walk, dance, and even fly from waterhole to waterhole. As they travelled the women left markers in the landscape and create landforms that remain to this day. During the entirety of their journey the women are pursued by a lustful old man, Yurla, although interactions with other animals, groups of men, and spirit beings are also chronicled in the narrative.
The Minyipuru travelled to Kunawarritji from Nyipily (Nyipil, Nibil, Canning Stock Route Well 34), and transformed themselves into a distinctive group of trees that remain in the area between these two sites. From Kunawarritji Yurla followed the sisters to Pangkapirni, where he finally caught one of the women. 
Today, Kunawarritji is a site of return, a place where people came back to continue their life in the desert with the formation of Kunawarritji Aboriginal community in the early 1980s. The community’s cultural significance endures, with the population swelling up to 1000 during cultural business.