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“Two Rockholes other side Punmu- Kayili (North) all the way keep going Kakarra (East), long way. Dingomili ngurra (Dingo’s home). Big one is Willarra. Dingos all stay in that place together, wild one [dingo] became a quiet one. All the dingos come from that place. Make a kuna (faeces), go home. Kirl Kirl (Well 36), Pinlankujarra and Karrarrngarri claypan are here too”

Wilarra, the site depicted in this painting, lies on the edge of a large salt lake, Nyayartakujarra (Lake Dora), near Punmu community.  A distinctive group of small salt water pools are clustered together here. The water from these pools is known for its’ powerful healing properties, and the pools are still visited today by Martu to bathe cuts and sores. 

Wilarra is also a term for ‘moon’ in Manyjillyjarra, and through the site’s jukurrpa (Dreamtime story), the site is united with the moon in significance. It is said that at Wilarra, the moon called to a family of dingoes; a mother, father and their large litter of dingo pups. The dingoes gathered at Wilarra, where the moon cared for them and created a windbreak for the family to shelter. “They scratched there in the salt lake and made those pools. They lay down there and had a sleep.” After a time, the dingoes continued travelling eastward toward the rising moon until they reached Kinyu (Well 35 on the Canning Stock Route), where they remained until all of the dingo pups had grown up. The moon asked the sun where it was going, and the sun replied it was also travelling east. From Kinyu the family travelled further east with the moon.

Name: Wokka Taylor

Language: Manyjilyjarra

Community: Parnngurr


Wokka was born in the late 1940s at Kaljali waterhole in the Kulyakartu area; flat, grass Country in the far north of the Martu homelands and close to the Percival Lakes region. He is the middle brother to fellow Martumili Artists Muuki Taylor and Ngalangka Nola Taylor. Both Muuki and Wokka are highly regarded cultural leaders, and Ngalangka a skilled translator and cultural advisor. 

In his youth Wokka’s family seasonally travelled between the Kulyakartu and Percival Lakes regions depending on the availability of water and the corresponding cycles of plant and animal life on which hunting and gathering bush tucker was reliant. Generally they lived in Kulyakartu during the wet season, when its' claypans filled with rain, and the Percival Lakes during the dry season, when they could rely on the area’s many permanent soaks. They continued to live a pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) lifestyle until being collected from Balfour Downs Station and taken to Jigalong Mission in the 1960s. They were one of the last Martu families to leave the desert. 

At Jigalong Wokka married Kanu (Karnu) Nancy Taylor (dec.); the pair were inseparable through to her passing in 2019. From Jigalong the couple lived and worked together on several cattle stations throughout the Pilbara. Eventually they relocated with their family to Parnngurr Aboriginal community as foundational community members during the ‘Return to Country’ movement of the 1980’s. Wokka continues to live in Parnngurr today.

Wokka paints his ngurra (home Country, camp), the Country he walked as a young man; its animals, plants, waterholes and associated Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narratives. His work has been exhibited widely across Australia.

© the artist / art centre