Paruku, Desert Lake

Desert Lake, art, science and stories from Paruku. Blog 13

Mandy Martin Gaining permissions Warrayunta Art Centre Photo David Leece DSC_0161 (74)

Desert Lake Project April 2012

The final big group trip to Paruku to work with the Walmajarri participants in the Desert Lake project, was another marathon event. Storm systems hovered around the Tanami Track but we managed to avoid heavy falls even though there were dramatic lighting displays far away to the north east the first few nights camping at the Lake.

Photo: Mandy Martin

Two new project members joined us this trip, on left, Tom Lynch, a writer and English Literature Professor, University of Nebraska Uni and right, Jocelyn Davies, Geographer, CSIRO ecosystem Sciences. (also left to right; Pirate the dog, Kim Mahood, Steve Morton and Faye Alexander)

The were several main tasks for the trip including seeking signed permissions on all the draft written and photographed material in the book.

Mandy Martin and Warruyanta Art Centre artists. Photo David Leece

Basil Hall, Basil Hall Editions, Darwin, had posted the 11 editions of screen prints in the Desert Lake folio, the art work for which had been painted on the August trip and the prints all needed titling, numbering and signing.

Jacinta Lulu and Mandy Martin, signing prints. Photo David Leece As usual all hands were on deck and everyone including the artists and scientists multi-tasked, helping screen print logos onto the new project shirts and in the photo below, Tom Lynch and Steve Morton, took it in turns “fixing” the logos with the iron while David Leece signed prints with Veronica Lulu.

Photo Mandy Martin The Warrayunta artists responded enthusiastically to Faye Alexander’s sculpture workshop. She had collected found metal materials and objects from the Mulan dump, and around the community and brought wool and fabric scraps from op shops in Alice Springs as a starting point to construct flowers.

Photo David Leece Faye worked, with Tara Lecke assisting and in this photo also Jessica Armson, the new Art Center coorindator.

Photo David Leece Meanwhile scientists, Jocelyn Davies, Guy Fitzhardinge and Steve Morton ran exhaustive interviews with the Paruku Rangers, Mulan Councillors, artists and members of the community, the new IPA coordinator and the Mulan Community CEO to discuss community resilience and how different people saw the future. This culminated in a full gathering at Handover site where we all discussed “Ways of Seeing Paruku”. Excerpts of this will become our final “Coda” for the book. The Handover meeting just happened to coincide with the Broome representative from the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Craig Creighton and the Balgo Art Centre coordinators, visiting the community. We were able to demonstrate that Warrayunta Art Center are engaged in a big project and in good shape to benefit from AGWA assistance to be part of an extensive proposed AGWA Kimberly project.

Rob Cossart, Department of Water, Western Australia and Rebecca Dobbs, Freshwater Ecology Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia, joined us from Kununurra at the end of the week to continue their on going research work. It was a holiday mood when we all went out to the Lake for a Welcome to Country for our newcomers and then a big fishing/ parasite sampling afternoon.

Photo David Leece

Rebecca Dobbs and Paruku Rangers. Photo David Leece

Rebecca and Rob and the Paruku Rangers worked with the women who literally hauled in the fish and as they did so they were analysed for nematodes and the results were recorded on the cyber-tracker.

The general consensus was the fish had far fewer parasites than the last survey and the women were very happy with their haul, the good fish being a great Friday meal. We drove back to Mulan across the vast grassy flood plains, staggered at the number of horses thundering past placid brolgas feeding in the long afternoon light.

Faye and Kim stayed on for another week to respectively continue the sculpture workshop and the signing of permissions. The rest of the group started the trip back home. Deadlines for the book loom and the artworks for the exhibition are all being photographed now by Mike Gillam in Alice Springs and the text is nearing completion. Mandy martin and Laura Boynes have just spent 4 days constructing a story board and editing hours of film and audio down to a 27 minute rough cut of the film. Permissions will be cleared on that hopefully in August and then Macquarie Bank editing studio will take the finished DVD to high resolution.

The film, book and website will all be launched with the first exhibition at Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, 1 March 2013.

Mandy Martin May 2013

Paruku, Desert Lake

Desert Lake Blog 12. The Paruku Print Project

Fire burning. Screenprint. Megan Doreen Boxer. Photo Basil Hall


In December 2011 Mandy Martin and Basil Hall printed 65 acetates, painted and drawn by 20 Desert Lake artists, scientists and others, during the August trip to Paruku.

We printed at Basil Hall Editions in Darwin, bracketed at one end by a typhoon and terminated at the other, as the power failed and water poured through the ceiling, by a cyclone! In January Clinton printed another 4 prints and is, just as I write, finishing the last prints. The Desert Lake boxed folio will contain a set of 10 screenprints and a printed Frontispiece. Works in progress can be seen pinned on the wall in the background of the workshop photo.

Each acetate was transferred to a silkscreen and then printed in the colour of the original acetate, thus creating an accurate sequence of colours, like Megan Doreen Boxer’s “Fire Burning” 6 colour print below.

Mandy Martin February 2012

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 8 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 8 The Paruku Project Sunday was a big expedition to drive around Paruku and a vehicle headed off soon after breakfast and arrived back by dusk, Bill Fox had his poet’s hat on that day especially as he contemplated circumnavigation. Guy wanted to see where most of the cattle were and get an idea of horse numbers. David Leece and I battled with the tricky wind which seems to spiral around the lake , arriving every half hour or so and whipping all our canvases and paints up in the air. Hansen was not the least bit surprised about this, the handover site has a spiral wind dreaming, it seems.

All the art team were on deck early helping on the Tuesday morning to speed Basil through finishing the burgeoning number of print acetates and also to assist Basil print “Desert Lake, The Paruku Project” logo onto100 orange bandanas which David Leece had bought on ebay.  David then set the ink by ironing them, despite the growing heat!

David Leece tying bandanas on weavers. Photo Mandy Martin

On Tuesday afternoon the last of our party arrived, (also project donors), they had flown to Broome, then hired a vehicle and driven out through Fitzroy Crossing and Hall’s Creek. They arrived with lots of fresh lettuces and tomatoes and other supplies so were welcome in every way! After briefly showing our visitors the artwork in progress at the art centre, we took them out to the Handover site to settle them into camp.

The Traditional Owners once again arrived and we had tea under the bough shelter and then promenaded to the lake where the Friday and Tuesday arrivals were welcomed to Country.

Hansen Pye and Chamia ran the ceremonies and we were humbled and happy to be given skin names. This caused much discussion and at times laughter as names were chosen for us and we stood to repeat and accept them. Once again Gill closed the ceremony by giving everyone orange bandanas!

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 7 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 7 The Paruku Project Friday was another big day, much anticipated because some new comers to our group were rendezvousing in Alice Springs to fly to Mulan. David Taylor had returned from Spain to his own Cessna, parked while he was away, in Alice Springs and he had to find John Carty from Canberra and Basil Hall from Darwin. Basil, not knowing John, had the brainwave of buying a cheap pad and pen from the newsagent and standing at the arrivals door with a note paging John Carty.. a big moment in John’s life… we were much relieved to see their plane arrive on the dirt strip, within 5 minutes of David Taylor’s ETA that afternoon, with everyone on board.

Being a slave driver, everyone responded to my call to work on the weekend including the Warruyanta artists who had all agreed to come in to work with Basil making acetates, some from their canvases, completed during the week for a large and exciting print project.

John Carty also threw himself straight into work, recording oral histories and stories arising from the history paintings and generally cataloguing and curating the art collection with Bill Fox as it grew over the following week.

Having John and Basil at the art centre gave David Leece and me more time to focus on our own painting which had been suffering due to the heavy program, so we were able to spend longer uninterrupted hours painting in locations near the lake. Hanson Pye and the rangers dropped by the camp regularly to see the works progressing and we also took the canvases into the art centre a few times so everyone could see how we were tackling their Country. Hanson named my 5 works “Falling Star” after the place on the lake, where all the dead trees point straight up after the star fell into the middle of the lake. We have agreed to swap a painting with each other next year, he was very taken with mine and wanted to hang one of the 5 panel studies on his wall at home he said.

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 6 The Paruku Project, 4-22 August 2011

Blog 6 The Paruku Project After our Welcome to Country, we established a pattern to the working day, Guy and I getting up just before first light at 5 am to start the fire for the billy and coffee, get breakfast going, put out the lunch for people to make up packed lunches and preparing the evening meal. David Leece and I would start painting by about 6 am either in camp or on the lake while the conversations around the fire rolled on and early morning walkers and birdwatchers ambled back into camp.

Campsite at Dawn. Photo David Leece

David and I both were struggling to find a visual language for the lake, I had worked there twice before so knew I wanted to make 5 panel studies for paintings but other than that we both plunged in fairly blindly, allowing the lake to talk to us.

Guy and Steve, (the scientists) and volunteer Chris Curran, with mechanical skills, were off to the community by 8.00 am to work with the rangers if they didn’t come by the camp first to collect them. They worked on eradicating Parkinsonia weed, looking at bilby burrow sites, estimating cattle numbers, looking at feral horse damage and a bit of hunting! Chris was the community hero for fixing the fuel pump so everyone could buy the fuel! Not to mention the water pump and so on… Bill Fox, with his ubiquitous notebook, (clasped at a weird left handed angle which meant one could never cheat and read what he had written down) and noticing probably too much, and Gill Taylor, after wrapping up lunch usually for 12 people, hopped into which ever vehicle appealed to them or had room, often the art one but sometimes the ranger/ science one and headed out of camp for the morning exodus.

By 8.30 David and I were off to Mulan also to open up and work with the competent and committed art centre coordinator, Jacinta Lulu. The painting went on like a wildfire the first few days and soon most of the canvases were bagsed and swaps started happening to maximise access to the canvases. Kim was able to re-stretch some more using the original frames as the week went on. She drew up a 5 panel work herself and started painting and Gill found some private time to start a canvas also.

Wednesday was a big day with a school session in the mid-morning, Kim had prepared 48 canvas board panels, with an ochre coloured ground and a projected aerial map of the Paruku Lake system painted onto it. Elder Hanson Pye joined us in a session with the kids where we discussed the lake and what animals and birds could be found in different places. Kim chalked those names on the maps. This was a high voltage session and it took all hands on deck to help the kids paint emus, kangaroo, brolgas, swans and so on, on the separate panels of the map. This work continued in week 2 with the Paruku donors when they visited and since leaving, Kim and some of women from the Warruyanta centre have continued this map with the kids.

Kim Mahood and Hansen Pye running the mapping session.

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 5 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 5 The Paruku Project On Monday 8 we arrived in good time to set up camp for everyone, prepare the ochre coloured grounds on 60 canvases and cook a big dinner for the 10 visitors in our group in camp that night.

Tuesday was our first day working in the Warruyanta Art Centre and a steady trickle of artists flooded in as soon as Jacinta Lulu opened the doors to start preparing the art centre. Kim had discussed with everyone that this was an art, science and story project and I discussed this idea with them again and showed them reproductions of the Warrukun collection which John Carty had recently co-curated and explained that we were keen to ask the artists to paint history paintings with stories about Country, both old time stories and new ones, to create a point of difference and make paintings to fit into this project.

Shirley Yoomarie painting “Working with scientists” Photo John Carty

Our main painters over the two weeks were Megan Boxer, Shirley Yoomarie, Launa Yoomarie and Daisy Kangah who prodced a couple of canvases each. Hansen Pye, Veronica and Jacinta Lulu, Anna Johns, Magda Matthews, Chamia Samuels and Dolores Bridgeman also painted. Many children and teenagers dropped by to paint also.

On the Friday the rangers and Guy were able to collect some fresh grasses for weaving when they visited the Blue Tongue Dreaming site and Chris Curran and the rangers collected scrap metal and wire from the dump. He and David Leece then helped the weavers fashion the metal into armatures for the weaving with found materials, and grasses. Anne Ovi, Karen Lulu and a few others immediately took to this idea and it leaves a lot of potential for Faye and Fran to work on next year in April we hope. The Warruyanta artists have plans for a large installation work.

Anne Ovi with weaving grasses. Photo John Carty

Tuesday afternoon we all returned to Handover site with many of the Walmajarri TO’s for a major Welcome to Country ceremony, conducted initially in the main bough shelter at camp from where we processed by foot and vehicle for the elderly, to the Lake’s edge. Chamia and Bessie sang out the traditional song for the Country and firstly the men were lead by the Walmajarri elder men including some of the younger men from the community who had missed the ceremony before, into the water to be liberally smeared with mud and water, then the women were lead in by the women. It was a deeply moving experience for us all.  We then returned to the camp for tea, sandwiches and so Bill Doonday could narrate and sing the Two Dingo Dreaming and Falling Star Stories for Paruku.

To conclude the ceremony, Gill Taylor presented us all with beautiful blue woollen vests and beanies produced by her clothing company “Natural Instinct”, with “Desert Lake, The Paruku Project” embroidered on the breast. The Rangers were especially taken with theirs and declared themselves “Power Rangers”

Photo David Leece

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 4 The Paruku Project 4- 22 August 2011


Blog 4 The Paruku Project. Second Trip 4- 22 August 2011 This was the big working trip designed to bring together all the participants including artists, scientists, writers and donors to work with the Traditional Owners to explore the interface between indigenous and non- indigenous ways of representing, interpreting and looking after country. The Paruku artists and rangers were all ready for this intensive period, having met with us and discussed the project in May.

We were a large group, travelling from all over the world and Australia to the remote community of Mulan.

Kim Mahood had already been at Mulan for 3 weeks reactivating the IPA office and preparing and explaining to everyone in the community what was going to be happening with the project. The Paruku Rangers had prepared the Handover camp site to be our base for 2 weeks.

Handover Camp. Photo David Leece

Rob Cossart from the WA Dept of Water and Rebecca Dobbs, Researcher from the Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, The University of Western Australia Kimberley Region, Kununurra had arrived a few days before our group to start water monitoring and fish sampling and the cybertracking/ mapping work with the Rangers and Kim.

Rob Cossart’s rig. Photo Mandy Martin

Jenifer Rahmoy, Australian Federal Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, People and Communities, came from Canberra via Kununurra, to observe and talk with everyone.

Two other scientists in the team, Steve Morton and Guy Fitzhardinge travelled ahead of my larger group, by road from Alice Springs to join Rob, Rebecca, Kim and the Paruku Rangers to observe the monitoring and discuss the scientific contribution to the CSIRO Publication about Paruku.

Bill Fox was delayed 24 hours flying from the USA and due to family reasons Faye Alexander had to withdraw from this trip but we gathered the rest of the group together at the Silver Bullet, which is where Steve and Faye Alexander live.

When Bill finally did arrive, we barely gave him a cup of coffee, in fact not even a shower, before hitting the road to the Tanami track. We camped the night near Mt Doreen enjoying our first night under the shooting stars.

Uncategorized, Desert Lake

Blog 3

BLOG 3 PARUKU 4-9 April 2011

The final day at Mulan I managed a few hours drawing Jim Bowler and Mike Smith’s geological/ archaeological dig on Parnkupirti Creek and was joined later by Steve, Guy and Kim who explained things a bit. We were impressed by the site showing the great antiquity of the lake and its inhabitants.

Archaeological site

In the afternoon, Kim gave the Culture lesson at the Mulan primary school, which came to a standstill while she rolled out the many maps she has painted with the community. The school kids are all keen to do a joint map when we return with Kim, and also small painting and sculpture projects with Faye and me.  Les Coyle, the headmaster, was very pleased about our involvement and has offered to help in any way. The teachers were all great and most interested and we had longer discussions that evening in our donga with Issie, a teacher and Brian, an IT specialist who have also agreed to help facilitate things for us.

School kids with maps

We visited the lake in the afternoon so I could finish a drawing started earlier in the morning while Guy and Steve looked to see if the cormorants were nesting yet on the creek. We saw horses grazing happily on the water’s edge near Handover site, which will make a beautiful camp for us all in August.

Lake edge near creek

The trip home was much easier than the trip out and despite the usual dramas of assisting Yuendumu people who had run out of fuel and so on, we managed possibly one of the longest long distance editors’ meetings ever held in terms of kilometres travelled, while driving 12 hours back to Alice. In that time Steve, Kim and I nutted out many issues and were pleased as we picked up email reception to hear from John Carty that he has agreed to join us as an editor also. John was a curator, editor, anthropologist and driving force behind the Canning Stock Route exhibition and catalogue at the National Museum of Australia 2011.

Tanami road

Mandy Martin May 2011

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 2

Paruku trip April 4-9, 2011 Guy Fitzhardinge and I flew into a cloudy, cool Alice Springs on Sunday and met in the afternoon with Steve Morton, Faye Alexander and Kim Mahood. We met also with Maggie Kavanagh that evening who will be an important contributor to issues surrounding communities and governance in our project.

We set out early the following morning and hit rain about half way up the Tanami track and fearful we would get rained in further hesitated to cross the first big creek near the now closed Rabbit Flat roadhouse. We had a dripping wet but happy camp and then headed off in rain again the following morning as it looked like it would clear. The road was not closed but no traffic had made it through to Balgo or Mulan for a few weeks it seemed, so they were surprised to see us and happy with the fruit and veges and so on that we brought. The Tanami track was closed further up at Sturt Creek which is in fact 5. 5 kms wide at present so no-one can get through to Hall’s Creek. We are excited because this huge body of water has already started filling Paruku again and will create a huge bird breeding cycle by August. Everything is very lush and green at present and all the spinifex has flags. The water lying in the verges of the road was teeming with water boatmen and apus.

Image Steve with apus

Near Tanami Gold mines I saw the first of two subsequent road kill bilbies, a healthy sign of sorts, although the one I saw was rather sodden! This second one in better shape, was on the road between Mulan and Balgo the day we left.

Image dead bilby

We stopped in Balgo to visit Sister Alice and Brother Lou at the Boystown compound and then met with the Balgo art centre coordinators, Annette Cock and Sally Clifford. We toured the newly renovated centre and met the women artists at work in the studios, many of whom were well known to Faye and Kim, particularly Shirley Yoomarrie who we are hoping will be one of our senior artists in this project. The new recording and film studios were a hive of activity and the gallery space looked terrific also. Annette and Sally were pleased to be filled in on our project and offered to help in any way possible. They will be pleased to see the isolated and under-resourced art centres at Mulan and Billiluna benefitting from this project.

On arrival at Mulan we did a tour around town, meeting and greeting people including Bill and Bessie Doonday and family. We then met with Gary Wise the community CEO and he suggested we stay in the IPA compound dongas rather than camping in the rain again and risking driving on wet tracks. This turned out to be convenient as we were easily able to schedule meetings with everyone over the next few days and invite people around to visit and talk with us also.

The Wednesday morning we visited the Warruyunta Art Center and checked out the neatly maintained but sparse facilities, with Veronica and Jacinta Lulu. Faye managed to connect the PC to the existing internet account and gave Jacinta a quick computer lesson in using the net and sending emails. Subsequently Faye helped her download information on a few programs she may be able to apply for to get some help in computer training skills for her in the actual community.

We then met with a number of artists and discussed the upcoming project. May Stundi, a linguist and speaker of 7 languages including English was there and most helpful. They were all excited to reconnect with Kim of course and to locate me within the context of the work I have done at Mangkaja the past 4 years, I had in fact met a few of the artists in Fitzroy Crossing previously. They are very happy to know we are coming back with materials and time to work with them and especially pleased about the book and exhibition in Alice Springs.

Artist meeting Mulan Store

Late afternoon we climbed the most obvious peaks near the community, Two Hills, so I could make a drawing and Guy took shots in the late afternoon sun and encountered this Stimson’s python.

After work, that evening, Patrick Kopp visited us for a cup of tea. He has held various positions within the community, including chairperson, and is the current rep for the Commonwealth Employment Agency. He was very open and communicative and he really helped us to understand the complexity of the grazing/ environmental issues at Paruku. He was interested and keen to be involved in the project and his involvement will bring a few other young men along as well to work on the scientific aspects of the project. We also discussed the WA Dept of Water Waterways project, and were able to peruse the current IPA management plans.

Paruku, Desert Lake

Desert Lake. Art, science and stories from Paruku Blog 1

Artist meeting at Mulan April 2011

PARUKU SEDIMENTS:  art, science and writing in the Tanami Desert Mulan artists meeting with Mandy Martin, Steve Morton, Kim Mahood, and Faye Alexander April 2011, photo Guy Fitzhardinge


Based in the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in the southeast Kimberley region of Western Australia, this project is a multi-disciplinary project that involves traditional owners, scientists, artists and writers. It seeks to develop a greater appreciation and sharing of landscape values between Indigenous and second settlers.  The project started in April 2011 and will run over the next year. (Blog 2 April 2011)


The project has evolved through discussions with all the participants, partners and donors and is supported by the Walmajarri traditional owners.

The prime outcome of the project is to achieve greater national and international understanding and knowledge of how global drivers are modifying Indigenous Traditional Owners connection to country  on the western edge of the Tanami Desert.

During a two-week period in August 2011 all the participants including artists, scientists and writers will work with Paruku Traditional Owners to explore the interface between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of representing, interpreting and looking after country. The broader context for the project is the influence of global drivers such as economics and climate change on a unique place and its people.

The project will follow three strands:

-          Art as expression of country and culture – painting, weaving, print-making

-          Mapping – cross-cultural communication

-          Recording/writing – stories, traditional knowledge, scientific observation, contextual over-view.

The painting and print-making strands will be mentored by Mandy Martin, a painter of international reputation who has worked alongside and mentored Indigenous artists for a number of years. She will also make artworks.

Alice Springs artist Faye Alexander will mentor the sculpture strands. She has exhibited nationally and has extensive experience working with Indigenous women. She will also make sculpture.

Kim Mahood,  an artist and writer with a long-standing connection to the Tanami and the Walmajarri people of Paruku  will mentor the mapping process and make collaborative paintings with the Walmajarri artists. She will also make artworks. The mapping will concentrate on a Fire map and a Waterways map painted on canvas, utilising Cybertacker data, monitoring programs and field observations. Input from Guy Fitzhardinge and Steve Morton, in consultation with Rangers and TOs, will help to identify the most effective way to incorporate scientific/environmental information and use the maps as a management tool.

The outputs of the project will be

  • an exhibition by all the Walmajarri and other artists involved in the project, Araluen Arts Centre have expressed interest in hosting the exhibition.
  • a book published by CSIRO and edited by Mandy Martin, John Carty, Kim Mahood and Steve Morton, which will include reproductions of the art works and essays by the writers and the Walmajarri Traditional Owners. The book will bring together the project themes – the intersection of art, science, Indigenous knowledge and global drivers. Walmajarri art, cultural knowledge and stories will provide the template around which the essays and images are structured. Bill Fox, international writer on landscape and cognition and Director of the Center for Art and Environment at the Nevada Museum, will provide contextual chapters. Other contributors will include Jim Bowler (geologist), John Carty and Guy Fitzhardinge (anthropologists)
  •  a DVD film and soundscape which will  accompany the publication.
  • artworks made by the Walmajarri artists suitable for selling in the Warruyarnta Art Centre, Mulan.
  •  the creation of skill development opportunities and some funded work for Walmajarri people through:
  1. Artists and writers fees for the Walmajarri TO’s & language consultant fee for Walmajarri linguist.
  2. The film recording of the project, to be carried out by young local film makers through Balgo Art Centre
  3. The running of painting, map making, print-making and sculpture workshops for the Walmajarri artists at the Warruyarnta Art Center and with  the Mulan school children.
  4. Scientific data useful to the Walmjarri TO’s  through the Waterways monitoring project which is being developed in partnership with the Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia and the WA Department of Water.
  5. Film work, blogs and written work  which will all be available to  wider audiences
  6. Exhibitions by the artists in various centres--Canberra, Alice Springs, Melbourne and internationally and for the writers--publications in journals and at conferences in Australia and internationally.


Indigenous people see and read the land in a way that non indigenous people find hard to understand. For Indigenous people the land is described in song or as an image and not as a collection of discrete parts. Having Indigenous people paint their landscape with the inclusion of the added disruptions that have followed post colonial settlement provides an insight into how the Indigenous landholders see the changes, and it also enables second settler people to gain a better understanding of the effects of their “development.”

The prime outcome is to achieve greater national and international understanding and knowledge of how global drivers are modifying Indigenous Traditional Owners’ connection to Country in the Tanami Desert.

From the point of view of the Walmajarri artists, the main outcome is connecting them and their community to the wider Australian audience.  This is important to them as the Traditional Owners of Country because they want their stories acknowledged and respected by the nation. They also want others to see the importance of the landscape to them and to understand their deep spiritual and cultural connection with it. They are also keen to develop their art centre, make sales, and find markets and publicity for their work – all of which brings money into their community.

Through the integration of both traditional and scientific knowledge, this project seeks to achieve a greater understanding of the social and cultural needs to achieve sustainable landscape management. Through the Paruku project wider audiences will achieve a greater understanding of the landscape values of the Lake Gregory/Tanami desert area and the deep historic and cultural relationship the Walmajarri traditional owners have with their land.

This project will lay the foundations for a shared understanding of the ecological values of the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area and contribute to the development and implementation of sustainable management practices. It will support and complement the work already being carried out by the Indigenous Protected Area Program, as outlined in the 10 year Paruku IPA Management Plan.

It is anticipated that this project may provide a methodology that can be adapted and used elsewhere, by creating a process for working with remote Indigenous communities in a way that develops respect and understanding among all parties involved.

These outcomes are underpinned by the unique partnerships with CSIRO publishing, the Federal Government’s Indigenous Protected Area Program, a major Gallery venue, the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, who are administering our project, and also our donors whose contributions and participation are making this project possible.. We anticipate that the outcomes  will in turn generate further spontaneous outcomes as the project evolves.

Mandy Martin, May 2011