These elders were concerned that their culture, their law and traditions were being lost to future generations. They were neither known nor understood by other Australians.
They approached Rock Art Australia director Susan Bradley to encourage people of influence to visit the Kimberley so that these old men could share stories of their country. Along with former RAA Director Christina Kennedy, the ‘Bush University’ was formed. People from all walks of life came to the North Kimberley to experience the power and spirituality of the Ngarinyin*, their land, their law, their art, and their ceremony.
The Bush University eventually became known in 1998 as the Wandjina* Foundation. It was renamed the Kimberley Foundation Australia in 2002 to reflect its broader objectives.
“Our country is living, breathing life. Our land is reflected in us, and we are reflected in the land. Our past, present and future is all in the land, from creation time to future time – all at once.”
“If we share the stories of our country with gudia (whitefella), then they will have our country in their hearts as we do, and they will understand and love it, and never damage it.”
David Bungal Mowaljarlai OAM (c.1926–1997)
* The Wanjina people comprise three tribes: Ngarinyin (the largest group), the Worrora and the Wunumbal.
Photo: Paddy Neowarra sharing his stories.