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Wantili (Well 25)

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: Peter Yanjimi Rowlands

Language: Manyjilyjarra

Community: Parnngurr


Yanjami is a Manyjilyjarra and Kartujarra man, born in the mid 1940s at Kaalpa (Kalypa, Canning Stock Route Well 23). His Jukurrpa (Dreaming) is associated with the Minyipuru (Jakulyukulyu, Seven Sisters) story for this site. Yanjimi’s mother’s Country lies around the Kumpupirntily (Kumpupintily, Lake Disappointment) area, and his father’s in the area surrounding Wirnpa in the Percival Lakes region. 

When Yanjimi was still very young and following the death of his grandmother, his family moved in from the desert and went to live at Jigalong Mission. He went to school at Jigalong, Nullagine and Marble Bar, and met his wife and fellow Martumili Artist Ngarga Thelma Judson in Jigalong. After finishing school, Yanjami worked on several stations around Meekatharra and trained racehorses at Milly Milly Station near Geraldton. He returned to Jigalong with his wife to raise their children until they were school aged. The family relocated to Parnngurr Aboriginal Community during the 1980s ‘Return to Country’ movement. Today Yanjimi and Ngarga live between Newman, Port Hedland, and Parrngurr.

Yanjami paints his ngurra (home Country, camp), the areas surrounding Kumpupirntily and south of Kaalpa. His work has been exhibited widely across Australia.

© the artist / art centre