Indigenous Australians
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Indigenous Australians

Indigenous Australians

Its important in so many different ways to acknowledge the custodianship of this land of the Jinigudera peoples, the Traditional Owners.  Exmouth Cape has always been a place apart from most of the Aboriginal tribes in the North West of Australia, a special place.  The local indigenous corporation, the North West Cape Exmouth Aboriginal Corporation, under the leadership of John Dale, a direct descendant of the indigenous tribe of the area, and Ann Preest, continue to work towards ensuring the ongoing well-being of the Cape, and all the people that live and visit there.

The Jinigudera culture, and indeed the Australian Aboriginal culture overall, is an incredibly complex one that is focused on sustainability and caring for the land, rather than on growth.  From this perspective, it is possibly the most successful culture in recorded history, with little change being necessary for tens of thousands of years as the tribes lived in a manner that was perpetually sustainable and had no impact on the natural environment in which they existed.

Materials found in rock shelters, caves on the Cape Range Peninsula indicate Aboriginal people have been living in the Ningaloo region for over 32 thousand years, with some archeologists suggesting this may in fact be closer to 60,000 years. 

These sites provide the oldest dated evidence for development of marine resources and the earliest dated evidence of jewellery in Australia.  The jewellery was found after an archeological team had dug in a cave for a number of days without success looking for human activity.  They were told by a visiting Traditional Elder that they were digging in the wrong spot in the cave, and that no one would live where they were digging.  Instead, he pointed at the area of the cave where they should be digging… and hours later they discovered the oldest known piece of Aboriginal jewellery! 

The word ‘Ningaloo’ is an Aboriginal word that means a ‘promontory’ which is a headland of elevated land.  It refers in modern day terms to the Cape Range National Park and surrounding areas.

You respecting the natural environment, history and culture of the area you will be holidaying in in is incredibly important to the local Aboriginal people and their ancestors – and they have a right to ask this of you as the Traditional Owners of this area.


We have decorated our boat with an Aboriginal design of a snake, as our way of clearing communicating our support for indigenous Australians, and the local Aboriginal Corporation, the North West Cape Exmouth Aboriginal Corporation.  

This snake is called the rainbow serpent.  The rainbow serpent is a deity and a common motif used in Aboriginal art – we actually paid the Aboriginal artist who painted our artwork for it three times… but that’s another story!  

There are many names and stories associated with the serpent, all of which communicate the significance and power of this being within Aboriginal traditions.  

The Rainbow Serpent story tells that in the Dreaming, the world was flat, bare and cold. The Rainbow Serpent slept under the ground with all the animal tribes in her belly waiting to be born. When it was time, the Rainbow Serpent pushed up from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains and gorges,she spilled water over the land, making rivers and lakes. As the pushed up she called to the animals to come from their sleep.  The rainbow serpent also made the sun, the fire and all the colours.  Thunder and lightning are said to stem from when she is angry.  After travelling around to create what we know as Australia, the rainbow serpent returned to this area, and went to sleep just off the coast here.

The Aboriginal peoples. 

The following information about the indigenous people of the cape has been generated by Oceanwise Expeditions (2013), taken from their website.

The name Ningaloo is a West Thalanyji*Jinigudira *Yinigudura *Yinkutura word meaning ‘deep water’ and was recorded in the 1800’s. Other groups have meanings that vary depending on the people and area of that language group. These people are coastal dwellers and as such have a long relationship between the Thalanyji aboriginal people from the Ashburton River (MINDEROO) area at Old Onslow. 

The coastal environments of the Ningaloo region and conservation of the marine life and coast is critical to the culture and identity of the traditional owners that are represented by the North West Cape Exmouth Aboriginal Corporation (NWCEAC – ICN:4268), the Traditional Owners and Custodians John Dale and his sister Janeen Dale and their families. Both John and Janeen have been given responsibility by their late father Sydney Dale (known by his aboriginal name as Munarbrie) whom was the last of the orginal old people from the North West Cape area. His country starts from above Tent Island on the eastern side of the Exmouth Gulf and extends across to Bulbali Point on the west coast on the Ningaloo. This old man was born on Giralia Station and grew up with his family on the North West Cape and at Cardabia Pastoral Lease the country of his youth. He was given the reponsibility by the old people belonging to his Thalanyji connections in the early 1950’s. His history is traced back to before white settlement here in Western Australia.

The late Sydney Dale was one of the old people that established the GNULLI NATIVE TITLE CLAIM. The word Gnulli is a Thudgarri word meaning “ALL OF US” and was given by Ben Roberts father when the claim was established. GNULLI IS A NAME GIVEN TO A NATIVE TITLE CLAIM; IT IS NOT A LANGUAGE GROUP. There were originally five language groups as part of this claim but now only three remain. They are the Yinigudura also known as: West Thalanyji*Jinigudira*Yinikutura and at times may be spelt differently depending on the people researching. The area for Sydney Dale was West Thalanyji, for the Crowe and Dodd families plus others it was Inggarda of the Kennedy Ranges and Carnarvon, with the Baiyungu Language Group being centred in and around Minilya area. The Baiyungu tribe were still living on and around Minilya in 1907. It was at this time they asked Julius Brockman to take them away to his station at Carnarvon as too many of their young strong men were dying. The Baiyungu Matriarch is a respected member of the NWCEAC and a respected source of information. She is the niece of the late Sydney Dale.

The region is extremely significant containing aboriginal sites such as burial grounds, middens and fish traps, and provides the earliest record of marine resource use in Australia. The West Thalanyji*Jinigudira people, who inhabited most of the land adjacent to the Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth Gulf including along and in the Cape Range area, enjoyed their occupation on this country and this is evident in the discoveries made by researchers when working with the late Sydney Dale. He showed young students where to research and look for evidence of his peoples existence here from around 35,000 years ago where they sheltered in limestone cave sites ON HIS COUNTRY. One of the most significant archaeological discoveries of ornamental beads made of cone shell more than 32,000 years ago, was found Mandu Mandu Creek Rock-Shelter near Exmouth (Morse, 1993). It was Sydney Dale that showed the researchers a location to work at and the results were incredible for all the people involved. This evidence demonstrates a sophisticated and specialised use of the coast and its resources. The Dale family continues to hold custodianship of the land for the original families and tribe of their late father. The Gnulli Aboriginal Native Title Claim recognises the traditional ownership of the country and as was told by the old man that established his claim with the understanding that people would always respect what the old people said and no one would disrespect the teachings of the old people. It documents that they the West Thalanyji people (Yinigudura etc) continue to hunt, fish, gather, camp and perform ceremonies, visit sites of spriritual importance, and pass on knowledge about the land and their traditions. The ocean, the estuaries, rivers, creeks and springs, and tidal areas are immeasurably important parts of West Thalanyji spritiual life. Respect for the land and water is IMPLICIT AT THE TIMES ALONG WITH RESPECT FOR THEIR CULTURE. The NWCEAC has been left the responsibility as the Legatees to put in place the Legacy of the Late Sydney Dale as we have to do what the old people said.

Before he left us this old man worked and put in place the future for his country. The various Universities in Western Australia and Australia, with connections and consultants in America, he has given us permission to go ahead and use his name, films, photos, and taped recording to educate and keep the truth as was given to him by his old people. Dr Kate Morse adn Dr Guy Wright with other academics including Dr Josko Petkovi from Murdoch University in Western Australia are just a few of the people that worked and knew him. They are and have committed to continue working towards the truth as he told it.



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.