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Kaalpakarti (going to Kaalpa, Well 23)

“We went to Parnngurr for work, for painting. Then we decided with the KJ mob to organise a trip to go to Kaalpa (Canning Stock Route Well 23), a 1 night trip. So we went to Kaalpa slowly from Parnngurr, back up. We went in all the motorcars- the [KJ] Rangers and Martumili together. First we went handpump, had a lunch, then packed that up. Then we went to that old mine camp, had a look around there. Then we went to Wantili (Canning Stock Route Well 25)- big claypan. At Wantili we take some photos. Then we hit the Canning Stock Route, past windy corner, then Kartarru (Canning Stock Route Well 24). Went there, take some photos then we pulled in in the afternoon to Kaalpa- my grandfather’s ngurra (home Country), my Country. We had some sausages, chops, stories round the waru (fire). Swags out, good times, sleeping under the stars. Then it sprinkled rain, kapi (water) coming down. Then next day we went GJ Bore, went around and see that mailbox, seeing whose been there y’know [laughs, referring to a visitors book at the bore]. Then we went to these [gesturing at a section of the painting showing a cluster of circular shapes] waterholes, springs- new springs. I don’t know that name. Then we came around here past Seven Sisters [rock formation], past that man [rock formation], then we went back ngurra Parnngurr. We went back Parnngurr, then we decided to paint this journey where we went . We went together on that journey, and we painted the journey together.

It was the second time I’ve been to Kaalpa, I took my friends there- they’ve only seen my paintings of that place. So I took them there to see what it looks like, showed my friends my artwork as well. They could see the same colours of the yapu (hill), tuwa (sandhills), sky, little bit of lakes. My sister Tameo [Tamisha Williams] took some photographs of me at Kaalpa, with my Kaalpa painting.

This painting is marlpa (companionship)- me and Anya painting this one together. We were talking together, painting together, laughing, joking. And this painting is going to Perth for What Now exhibition . Wanjyalpa (What’s happening)? Me and Anya!”

– Corban Clause Williams

“That’s the first time I went to Kaalpa with Bamba [Corban]. That’s Yanjimi’s [Yanjimi Peter Rowlands] Country, that’s my pop’s Country. I was thinking about my pop when I was there. I was feeling happy in Kaalpa with Bamba and everyone there. Me and Bamba painted that place, we drew it first then we painted it. Me and Corban like to paint together, that’s my brother. And here we are painting Canning stock Route. We liked to paint together and send it to What Now exhibition, to Claremont, The Goods Shed!”

– Judith Anya Samson

Corban and Judith have together painted a visual depiction of a road trip taken to visit several sites, including Corban’s ancestral Country of Kaalpa. Senior Martu artists have often painted together where a story of mutual significance is conveyed, and in this way have produced many of the stunning, large scale collaborative works for which Martumili Artists are most well-known. Here the young artists have engaged in this established Martu practice of marlpa, or collaboration.

Kaalpa is a permanent water source located northeast of Kumpupirntily (Kumpupintily, Lake Disappointment). This site is a place of great cultural significance, and is also known for good hunting. Adjacent to the waterhole is a hill of the same name. The landscape around Kaalpa is parlkarra, bordered by tali (sandhills) stretching as far as Windy Corner, northeast and towards the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Kaalpa also features in the Minyipuru (Jakulyukulyu, Seven Sisters) Jukurrpa, a central creation narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation. At Kaalpa the Minyipuru met a group of men; it was the first time either group had seen members of the opposite sex. The men tried to grab the women, but the Minyipuru chased them, hitting them with their digging sticks leaving them lying there as they continued travelling east.

The intersection of the Canning Stock Route with Kaalpa also made this a site of early contact with Europeans for many Martu then living a pujiman life in the desert. Following the route’s construction, Martu encountered Europeans and other Martu working as cattle drovers as they would travel up and down the Stock Route from water source to water source.


Name: Judith Anya Samson

Language: Putijarra

Community: Jigalong


"My name is Judith Samson. My skin [group] is Milangka and I speak Martu Wangka. I was born in Hedland, Port Hedland seaside, but I moved to Jigalong community with my nanna [Dadda Samson (dec.)] and my pop. Then we moved to desert, to Puntawarri, [Canning Stock Route] Well 17. I was still a young girl, still crawling in the desert. It was nice there. Some other families lived there with us. We had some farm, some vegetables. We went schooling in Puntawarri at the school, learning ‘two way’ [refers to teaching in both Martu Wangka and English, with a focus on local cultural and ecological knowledge]. We used to go and get some parnajarrpa (goanna) and turkey. We had a Toyota truck. We been go hunting at the desert. Some people there still, but they gotta build some new houses and then we going back to [live in] Puntawarri.

My nanna’s sister had a house here in Newman, so we used to come and visit. I did high school here in Newman. Now I move between Jigalong and Newman. My nanna [was] living in Jigalong, so I still go visit there.

I started to do painting here at Martumili when I was a young girl. I been help my nanna painting, we were painting Puntawarri one. My nanna was teach me to paint. I like to do some painting. I paint the Canning Stock Route, [and Canning Stock Route] Well 17 at Puntawarri. My favourite thing is going out to Country, and go back to Jigalong and Puntawarri, and to do some painting about Country. Painting helps me be strong. My family and my culture is feeling proud. I feel happy when I paint- pukurlpa. Happy! I also like playing softball. We play for Jigalong, Western Desert. I also like to dance and listen to music.

I work with Martumili now. I come to work and wash all the paint, put all the tubs in the colour and wash all the brushes. I help sell the paintings, and photograph and catalogue them. I went to America, Fremantle, the Gold Coast, Sydney,  and Alice Springs with Martumili. I like to work at Martumili- happy, pukurlpa (happy). I also work for KJ (Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa ranger group) mob in Jigalong too."

- Judith Anya Samson


Judith is the granddaughter of Dadda Samson and Yanjimi (Peter) Rowlands, both of whom were highly regarded Martumili artists. She was born in Port Hedland and has lived most of her life in Jigalong. Judith was raised by her grandparents Dadda and Yanjimi, as her parents passed away when she was very young. As Judith describes, she was taught to paint by her grandmother Dadda, who passed stories to her for painting. Judith also spent much time travelling with Dadda to her country around the Puntawarri and the Rabbit Proof Fence areas, both subject of many of her paintings.

Judith has exhibited in most Martumili Artists' exhibitions in recent years. Her work has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Queensland (GOMA) and the National Museum of Australia.

© the artist / art centre