The group at a claypan in the Karlajartu area

Jakulyukulyu trip

In May, twenty-five Martu participants – nine elders, thirteen rangers and three other participants – as well as ten other participants from Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa, Martumili Artists, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the National Museum of Australia (NMA) and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) went on a seven-day trip covering 600km of remote country, most of which was completely off-road.

The aim of the trip was to visit sites associated with the Jakulyukulyu (Seven Sisters) that are located north of Punmu. The trip began at sites north of Telfer, Pangkal and Tinki, and then followed the Pussy Cat Bore Road east to the Wapet Road.

The convoy consisted of ten vehicles and during the trip there were thirteen flat tyres, which provided a good chance for the wanti (women) rangers to practice their split-rim changes.  One car, Rango, had to be temporarily abandoned in the desert due to a broken coil spring.  Fortunately it happened on the second-last day and was an easy task for the new Kunawarritji team to rescue it a few weeks later, in June.

During the trip, oral histories of pujiman (bushman) travels through the area were recorded and participants spent two mornings painting for Martumili, aiming to contribute works to a Jakulyukulyu exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in 2017.  Two of these pieces were collaborative works that the elder artists made on circular canvas.  One collaborative piece was completed by the Chapman sisters, Mayiwulku, Mulyatinki and Nyanjipayi, who walked the area over fifty years ago.  Younger artists and two elder men who accompanied the group worked on solo pieces.

The rangers managed to ground-truth four named sites from the Wanyja waterhole map, including one site that had not been visited since pujiman days, as well as three unnamed claypans.  The trip was a good chance for the wanti rangers to run a long trip independently of the men’s ranger teams and provided opportunities for the elders to pass knowledge and stories on to younger Martu.