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Honouring the Land and Jinigudera Legacy in Exmouth

It’s important to acknowledge the custodianship of this land by the Jinigudera peoples, the Traditional Owners. Exmouth Cape, set apart from most Aboriginal tribes in Northwest Australia, holds a special significance. The North West Cape Exmouth Aboriginal Corporation, led by John Dale and Ann Preest, works tirelessly to ensure the well-being of the Cape and all who visit.

The Jinigudera culture, emblematic of Australian Aboriginal culture, prioritises sustainability and care for the land overgrowth. This approach has proven incredibly successful, remaining largely unchanged for tens of thousands of years.

Evidence from rock shelters and caves on the Cape Range Peninsula suggests Aboriginal presence in Ningaloo for over 32,000 years, possibly up to 60,000. Remarkably, this region holds the oldest evidence of marine resource use and the earliest known Aboriginal jewellery in Australia.

Photo Credit: Jacob Loyacano

The story of how an elder guided archaeologists to discover this jewellery underlines the deep knowledge and connection the Traditional Owners have with this land.

“Ningaloo”, meaning ‘promontory’, aptly describes the Cape Range National Park and surrounding areas. Respecting this land’s natural environment, history, and culture is vital to the local Aboriginal people and their ancestors.

The Rainbow Serpent story is a cornerstone of Aboriginal tradition, explaining the formation of the landscape and the origins of life. It’s a powerful reminder of the deep spiritual connection Aboriginal peoples have with the land.

Information about the indigenous people of the cape, provided by Oceanwise Expeditions, states that ‘Ningaloo’ means ‘deep water’ in the local Aboriginal language. The coastal environments and marine life conservation are integral to the culture and identity of the Traditional Owners.

The region contains significant Aboriginal sites like burial grounds, middens, and fish traps. The West Thalanyji*Jinigudira people have a deep historical connection to this land, as evidenced by archaeological findings.

The Gnulli Aboriginal Native Title Claim, established by the late Sydney Dale, recognizes traditional ownership and the importance of respecting the teachings and traditions of the old people.

The NWCEAC, as the Legatees, continues to uphold Sydney Dale’s legacy, ensuring respect for the land, water, and culture. His work with various universities and academics continues to educate and preserve the truth of the Aboriginal people’s history and traditions.

Photo Credit - Rainbow Snake - Jimmy Pike - Jap 08222

Morse, K., 1993. Shell Beads From Mandu Mandu Creek Rock-Shelter, Cape Range Peninsula, Western Australia, Dated Before 30,000 BP. 67 Antiquity 1993. 877-83.