Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer


'Waruwiya' by Helicopter Tjungurrayi, 2007


'Waruwiya' by Helicopter Tjungurrayi, 2007

Object information


"Kaparli (grandmother's) country, but country for everyone. Tali, sandhill country, bush tucker country, bushman [country]. Waruwiya [soak] and Pilalyi rock hole. I lived around here with my mother and father. Nyirla is our Country. I was walking around everywhere in that Country, that was the last time. [Then] we travelled to them waterholes on the Canning Stock Road, until we came closer to Natawalu. That's where we saw a helicopter for the first time." [Helicopter Tjungurrayi]

Physical description

A red and black horizontal striped painting on linen with a red, cream and black horizontal striped section across the centre. Beneath the cream stripes there is a black disc with a cream edge. The stripes start to veer downwards to the right underneath the disc. Two measurements on the left edge read '61 x 92c' and 36 x 24'. Along the top is the code 'H/68/'.

Statement of significance

The Canning Stock Route collection is comprised of 125 works and includes paintings, drawings, baskets, boomerangs, coolamons, headdresses, carved figures and shields.

The Canning Stock Route is a no-longer-used cattle droving route that traverses the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts of central Western Australia. Comprised of 48 wells along an 1800 kilometres stretch of track, the route links Wiluna in the south with Sturt Creek in the north and traverses the traditional lands of nine Aboriginal language groups. The route was founded in 1905 when Alfred Canning was commissioned to investigate a route suitable for the droving of 500 head of cattle, with water sources spaced at intervals of no more than one day's walk apart. Although Canning's map records observations of the land and water resources, it makes no mention of Indigenous places and their associated meanings which the route traversed. This collection, composed of 'painting stories', sculptural works and oral histories, re-dresses Canning's omission and records the impact of the stock route on Indigenous lives and country. A six week journey with traditional owners held in July and August of 2007 inspired the artworks, many of which were produced during the journey, and provided an opportunity for more than 70 senior and emerging artists to reconnect with traditional lands..

Object information

Back to top