The centre was developed in close consultation with the Warumungu people, the central language group in the area, and is located adjacent to a sacred site which gives the centre its name meaning ‘Home of the Spiky-Tailed Goanna’.
The centre is built within landscaped gardens featuring dozens of species of plants utilised by Warumungu people for millennia, dance grounds for men and women, and a cafe.
The main building contains an exhibition space housing a permanent interpretive display complemented by changing exhibitions of local arts and crafts, a retail space, resource centre, meeting rooms for men and women, offices and storage faciltiies.
Exhibition design was by Jisuk Han of X Squared Design. I worked with community members to gather hours of digital video footage, photography and mini-disc audio recordings used in the creation of over two hours of footage screened in the permanent exhibition space.
All photography, video and audio recordings made during the production process were stored at the centre for research and community reference purposes.
The community wanted a large screen in the space that would be used to show a video program to assist visitors in understanding the recent history of the region as experienced by Warumungu people.
I travelled to Tennant Creek on four occasions to go out bush with community members to record video, photography and audio.
This included an important day of ceremonial dancing by men and women, visits to country with individuals and small groups, bush tucker gathering and hunting, as well as local footy games, rock and roll bands, the rodeo and other aspects of everyday life in Tennant Creek.
Research was undertaken to identify archival photographic records of Warumungu people held in state museum collections and archival footage managed by ScreenSound Australia, the ABC and other third parties.
The media was edited using FinalCut Pro and output to DVD using DVD Studio Pro. Rough-cuts of the media were viewed by the community who provdied feedback leading to the fine-cut and final output. Playback was from a Pioneer DVD7300 industrial DVD player to an Hitachi 4:3 ratio plasma display.
The final program traces from 1901 when Baldwin Spencer travelled through the region photographing people and places, to Warumungu recollections of station life in the mid-twentieth century, to ceremonial life today, bush tucker stories and how to prepare and cook a kangaroo in a ground oven.
The ‘Mapwall’ is part of a permanent interpretive display that explores various aspects of Warumungu life over the past century, including Aboriginal involvement in the cattle and mining industries, mission times, stolen generation and town life.
Stories are told through ten unique dioramas – locally known as ‘bush TVs’ – made by Warumungu artists, supported by graphics, texts and multimedia.
Other aspects of the permanent display include a showcase of Warumungu objects collected in 1901 by Baldwin Spencer for the Melbourne Museum, now on long-term loan back to the original owners, a history of the Warumungu land claim movement and a bush resources display revealing the rich diversity and range of uses of local species of flora and fauna.
Two eMac computers are installed 10 meters apart in the Mapwall housing the dioramas. One of these screens shows a slideshow of over 400 digital images accompanied by audio recordings made during my visits to country. It is intended to reveal to the visitor the often hidden beauty and diversity of the traditional Warumungu lands around Tennant Creek.
The other screen shows over 90 minutes of short video sequences (a few minutes each) that explore many aspects of everyday life for Warumungu people and explain the ongoing relevance, strength and importance of country, culture and language.
CDP assisted the community in the establishment of a Resource Centre where community members, visiting artists and others can use Macintosh-based digital media systems to create new DVD and QuickTime media for exhibitions, and use digital cameras and minidisc system to record stories, interviews, family histories and community events.
gary warner 2012
January 2002 – July 2003