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Kaalpa (Kalypa, Canning Stock route 23)

“Kaalpa (Kalypa, Canning Stock Route Well 23) is my grandfather’s Country. There’s a waterhole there, Kaalpa waterhole. It’s my two pops’ Country. They been walking around, hunting around Kaalpa. You can see a yapu (rock), warla (lake), claypans, karru (creek) and tuwa (sandhills) there. It’s on the [Canning] Stock Route, it’s Well 23.  

In pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) days, pujimanpa (desert born people) walking around all this Country. My pops told me about that place, a big flat area, parlkarra (flat country) good for hunting parnajarrpa (goanna), lunki (witchetty grub), lungkurta (blue tongue lizard), wamurla (bush tomato), jinyjiwirrilyi (wild gooseberry). Kaalpa is a busy place for emus getting a drink. 

I went [to Kaalpa] for the first time [in 2018] on a Martumili KJ (Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa) trip. I went hunting there, got a parnajarrpa. When I went there, I was pukurlpa (happy). It made you open up your spirit, it feels like home.”

 – Corban Clause Williams

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. The large and dangerous Jukurrpa (Dreamtime) mosquito and fly beings partially created the landforms in this area and continue to live underground here.

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.

Minyipuru is Relayed in song, dance, stories and paintings, Minyipuru serves as a creation narrative, a source of information relating to the physical properties of the land, and an embodiment of Aboriginal cultural laws. Beginning in Roebourne on the west coast of Western Australia, the story morphs in its movement eastward across the land, following the women as they walk, dance, and even fly from waterhole to waterhole. As they travel the women camp, sing, wash, dance and gather food, leaving markers in the landscape and creating landforms that remain to this day, such as groupings of rocks and trees, grinding stones and seeds. During the entirety of their journey the women are pursued by a lustful old man, Yurla, although interactions with other animals, groups of men, and spirit beings are also chronicled in the narrative.

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. Increasingly, pujimanpa followed the route to newly established ration depots, mission and pastoral stations. They were drawn to the route in search of food, by a sense of curiosity, or by loneliness. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, most of the desert family groups had left the desert. Eventually, these factors combined with an extreme and prolonged drought in the 1960s to prompt the few remaining pujimanpa to move in from the desert.

Name: Corban Clause Williams

Language: Manyjilyjarra


"My name is Corban Clause Williams. I was born in Newman hospital. Mum, Dad, Nanna and Pop lived in Jigalong before, but they moved into town before I was born. I’m one of seven children. I grew up in Newman- this is my home. I like to travel but I worry about home. When I was younger I went to Newman Primary School and Newman Senior High School.

My Nanna and Pop used to take us out hunting for bush tucker. I’d help them make a fire and tea. Me and Pop would go out to the swamp area between Newman and Kumarina. Nan, Pop, Mum and Dad would tell funny stories about our family and make me laugh.

I work teaching Cultural Awareness with KJ (Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, ranger organisation) teaching Cultural Awareness, and help the YMCA with youth programs. I work at Martumili too, helping to sell the paintings and get the canvas ready. With Martumili I travelled too. Gold Coast was my first big trip and [I've been to] Perth, Adelaide and Sydney. 

I'm [also] a Martumili artist. I come to Martumili to paint about my Country, where my grandfather walked around and collected food, and visited the same rockholes I do. I paint to keep my culture and stories and share with others. Sometimes I paint with my nanna Jakayu [Biljabu]. I learn from her a little bit. My skin name is Milangka and Kaalpa (Kalypa, Canning Stock Route Well 23) is my grandfather Country. I was really happy to go see my grandfather's Country- pukurlpa (happy). When I paint I feel like its home. Doing it on the canvas,  feel like I'm standing there back at home."

Corban Clause Williams

© the artist / art centre