New Works


12-735 – Nora Nungabar


1 in stock

Nora Nungabar

61 x 91cm: acrylic on canvas
Year: 2012

Kunawarritji (Canning Stock Route Well 33)

Kunawarritji is an important site in the Great Sandy Desert where multiple stories and histories intersect. Originally a spring water and major Martu pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) camping site, at the turn of the 20th century Kunawarritji was converted into a well along the Canning Stock Route. Each year throughout the 1930-50s, the well became a site of contact between the drovers, their cattle, and desert families like Nungabar’s (dec.). Nungabar was born near Lipuru (Libral Well, Canning Stock Route Well 37), north east of Kunawarritji. She grew up in the Country between these sites, and from an early age she and her family had encounters with drovers along the Canning Stock Route.

Long before colonial history entered this Country, however, other stories dominated this site. Primarily, Kunawarritji features in the Minyipuru (Jakulyukulyu, Seven Sisters) Jukurrpa (Dreaming). Minyipuru is a central Jukurrpa narrative for Martu, Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people that is associated with the seasonal Pleiades star constellation. Beginning in Roebourne on the west coast of Western Australia, the story morphs in its movement eastward across the land, following a group of women as they walk, dance, and even fly from waterhole to waterhole. As they travelled the women left markers in the landscape and create landforms that remain to this day. 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 Minyipuru travelled to Kunawarritji from Nyipily (Nyipil, Nibil, Canning Stock Route Well 34), and transformed themselves into a distinctive group of trees that remain in the area between these two sites. From Kunawarritji Yurla followed the sisters to Pangkapirni, where he finally caught one of the women. 

Today, Kunawarritji is a site of return, a place where people came back to continue their life in the desert with the formation of Kunawarritji Aboriginal community in the early 1980s. The community’s cultural significance endures, with the population swelling up to 1000 during cultural business. In her late years Nungabar relocated to her homelands at Kunawarritji, though she continued to travel regularly between Kunawarritji, Balgo and Mulan. Nungabar was a custodian of a great deal of cultural knowledge about the Kunawarritji area, much of which is referred to in her extensive body of work.

SKU 1033043a Category

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Martumili Artists acknowledges the Nyiyaparli and Martu people as the Traditional Owners of the land we live and work on. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners throughout our country and our Elders; past, present and emerging.