Published by on

Status: Stock

Desart Photograph – Wantili

“This is a special place for all the Martu. It’s a gathering place. This is wher my grandfather got taken away from my grandmother by the cannibal.”

-Cyril Whyoulter


Wantili is a large round jurnu (soak) and lyinji (claypan) near Well 25 on the Canning Stock Route. The area is dominated by claypans surrounded by tuwa (sandhills). Following rain the typically dry claypans are filled with water, with the overflow from nearby waterholes flowing to Wantili. At that time, Wantili becomes an important place for obtaining fresh water for drinking and bathing. Wantili is significant for the fact that at this site Kartujarra, Manyjilyjarra, Putujarra and Warnman people would all come together for ceremonies. Manyjiwa (stones used by women for grinding seeds) from these times can still be found there today.

Wantili is an incredibly important cultural site, ‘where the creation started.’ The jukurrpa (dreamtime) story related to the creation at Wantili are just for Martu, but the site is open and anyone can go there. Wantili is also one of the many sites featured in the epic Minyipuru (Seven Sisters) jukurrpa narrative. The story follows the movement of a group of women travelling all the way across the desert, beginning at Roebourne on the coast of Western Australia, as they are pursued by Yurla, a lustful old man. As the women travelled they stopped to rest at many sites to eat, dance, rest and sing, on the way leaving behind an assortment of articles that became formations in the land. The sisters rested at Wantili before throwing seeds, then continued their journey on to Tiwa, Juntujuntu, and then Pangkapini, where they finally escaped Yurla by flying into the sky to become the Pleaides constellation of stars.

Name: Cyril Whyoulter

Language: Kartujarra

Community: Parnngurr


"My mum's father came from Kirriwirri in the North. I can paint that way too. I like painting, it's a good way to learn from old people, keep the stories going. Yunkurra (Billy Atkins), my nyamu (grandfather), he's guiding me about what I can paint and share. My closest family is the Taylor mob; uncle Muuki, Wokka, and Ngalangka (Nola). They help me too."

- Cyril Whyoulter

Cyril's mother's and Father's country is Jartuti. He is the grandson of senior Martumili Artists Bugai Whyoulter and Pinyirr (dec.). Cyril grew up in Parnngurr and Punmu communities. He now lives with his wife and children between Perth and Newman.

Cyril first developed an interest in art making when he began colouring in pencil with his grandfather Larry Patterson. An avid experimentalist and prolific painter, he has since mastered many painting techniques and developed his own signature style in which the influence of his grandmother Bugai is evident. Cyril is respected as a learned cultural leader, and is a strong proponent of the importance of intergenerational knowledge transfer.


© the artist / art centre