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Punmu is an Aboriginal community located 670km North-East of Newman, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Created during the return to Country movement of the 1980s, with the recognition of Martu land rights and native title, the community was named after a nearby jukurrpa (dreamtime) story.

Punmu community sits on the edge of a large salt lake known as Nyayartakujarra, or Lake Dora. The lake runs south into Karlamilyi River. There are many yinta (permanent water sources) in Punmu’s nearby vicinity including Wilarra, Rawa, Yilyara, Jilajila and Tuutuu.

Punmu features in several jukurrpa narratives. Of particular importance for the Warnman people is the story of the ‘Jila Kujarra’ (Two Snakes). These snakes travelled through Parnngurr, Punkulyi, Yulpu, and Winukurrujunu, forming lakes, claypans, rocks, rockholes, waterholes and soaks as they went. The powerful elder of the two snakes, Wirnpa, finally stopped at the site of Wirnpa, named for him. The young snake kept on travelling until coming to Punmu waterholes Rawa and Yilyarra, making that Country his ngurra (home camp). Another jukurrpa story describes the formation of Nyayartakujarra as occurring when two travelling snakes were first sung to sleep and then killed by magic men. The snakes’ fat was said to have burned away and melted into Nyayartakujarra.

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