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‘Karlamilyi’ 2021 NAIDOC T-shirt

“This is in the Karlamilyi River (Rudall River) area. The sand dunes run from the East to the West and stop at the river’s edge on each side. Where the sand dunes stop, the river was created by the Jila Kujarra (Two Snakes) that went east to Nyayartakujarra (Ngayarta Kujarra, Lake Dora). 

North of Karlamilyi River there’s a series of claypans in that Country, big claypans and small claypans. After it’s rained they all get filled up. Walyji (white gum) grows around the claypans. It’s a camping area for Warnman people. They used to get water there and also from the Karlamilyi River area. 

You can see that blue water along the Karlamilyi River, and the red tuwa (sandhills). As you fly over that Country you will see the designs on the ground in the different formations and colours. That’s the land of my family who are the ancestral owners of Karlamilyi.” 

 – Desmond Taylor 

Karlamilyi is Warnman Country, located in the very heart of the Martu homelands. The Karlamilyi region is Desmond’s ngurra (home Country, camp) through his parents and grandparents, and he possesses a great deal of knowledge of the region’s physical elements, resource distribution, and Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives.

The region is situated southwest of the Great Sandy Desert and northeast of the Little Sandy Desert. Spanning through the region is the epic Karlamilyi River, which runs north into Nyayartakujarra, a large salt lake. The Broadhurst and Fingoon Ranges extend diagonally across the river’s path. The landscape is striking for its abundance of gorges and valleys carved by ice age glaciers, rugged cliffs, red tali (sand dunes), grasslands, sandstone and quartz rocky outcrops, and salt lakes. 

Across the whole region are hundreds of water sources; including waterholes, creeks, soaks, lakes, pools and rockholes. Lining the rivers are coolabah, walyji (river gum), yulbah (bats wing coral tree), and several species of acacia and hakea. Jalkuran (paperbark), kurrulyu/ mijarrpa (bloodwood) and jawirli (quandong) are found in the region’s valleys, and wikirrpa (desert oaks) and grasses in the sandplains. The area is abundant with bird species, jila (snakes), maruntu (goannas), red kangaroos and warlpaju (rock wallabies). The region is also home to remote aboriginal communities Punmu and Parnngurr.

According to two of the central Martu Jukurrpa narratives, the Karlamilyi River and its surrounds were created by the ancestral beings Jila Kujarra and the Wati Kujarra (Two Goanna Men) as they travelled across the lands.


© the artist / art centre