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Parnajarrpa (sand goanna) – 2

Parnajarrpa (sand goanna) are one of the most prized and reliable food sources hunted by Martu, found throughout Australia in sand plain and dune habitats. They are hunted by both men and women, though more often women working either alone or in pairs. Parnajarrpa hibernate in the cool months, emerging seasonally as temperatures warm in tuulparra (spring). When parnajarrpa are active they are tracked and dug from their burrows. When they are hibernating their burrows are ‘sounded’ by tapping wana (digging-sticks) on the ground, and then excavated. Traditional carved wana have been replaced with metal bars, though burning and tracking techniques continue to be practiced in the hunting of parnajarrpa.  Targeted waru (fire) clears vegetation and exposes burrows, whilst simultaneously providing diverse regenerating habitats for future parnajarrpa. When consumed, they are singed and then cooked in a coal and ash bed. 

During the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) period, Martu would traverse very large distances annually in small family groups, moving seasonally from water source to water source, and hunting and gathering bush tucker as they went. Whilst desert life has moved away from mobile hunter-gatherer subsistence throughout the course of the twentieth century, bush tucker continues to be a significant component of the modern Martu diet. Hunting and gathering bush tucker remains equally valuable as an important cultural practice that is passed on intergenerationally. Though hunting and gathering implements have been modernised, methods of harvesting, tracking and the use of fire burning to drive animals from their retreats are still commonly practiced today.

Name: Kathleen Maree Sorensen

Language: Kartujarra

Community: Jigalong


"I have experience working with different mediums such as felting, jewellery making, carving into wood for printing, and using a pallet knife in my art. I'm also learning from the senior artists from the other Martu communities. Everybody has their own style in their art. I love the stories they tell me from back in their early days.

The good relationship I have with the other artists and working with Martumili is based on respect; the respect I have for elders, and knowledge of two cultures, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal. That makes me the perfect person to help the Martu people of the Western Desert region to understand how the art centre operates and other things that influence Martu people’s lives".

- Kathleen Maree Sorenson


Kathleen started painting at Jigalong Aboriginal community in 1999 and completed a visual arts certificate at Pundulmurra TAFE campus in Port Hedland in 2000. Kathleen paints stories about her Country, various types of bush tucker, stories from her mum and from family trips out bush.

Kathleen experiments with different mediums, working toward the development of her own unique style. Kathleen is also a basket maker; she learned how to make baskets from her Aunt, Dora Booth. "My Aunty asked me to help her start the centre ring of the basket one day and then I started to get the hang of making baskets myself. I started collecting spinifex and sitting with my Aunty and working with her making baskets, then I started making my own." 

© the artist / art centre