Marninwarntikura is situated in Fitzroy Crossing, a small town of connected communities spread across the sweeping floodplains of the great Fitzroy River.
Marninwarntikura is located on Bunuba country, the Traditional Owners of the northern part of the Fitzroy Valley. The terrain surrounding Fitzroy Crossing is dissected by red and black crevassed limestone ranges. They are the remnants of an interconnecting 390 million year old Devonian reef system. Geiki Gorge, known to the Bunuba as Darnkgu, holds the mighty Fitzroy River which swells and floods the land during the Wet season. The Bunuba’s neighbours are the Gooniyandi. Their ancestral homelands, to the east of Fitzroy Crossing, stretch across similar fertile river country to the Bunuba. In consequence, the Bunuba and Gooniyandi share many cultural traditions. Below the deep raging waters of the Fitzroy River, stretching far south, is Jilji country, the rolling sand-hills of the desert. On a non-indigenous map it is demarcated as the 85,000 square kilometres of the Great Sandy Desert. To us, it is the ancestral homelands of the Walmajarri and Wangkajunga people.
The Fitzroy Valley covers an area of the central southern Kimberley. The Kimberley, a region of 422,000 square kilometres is recognised internationally for its diverse and beautiful physical environment and rich Indigenous culture.
The Kimberley is home to many thousands of Indigenous people who make up more than 20 language groups, which represents half the Aboriginal nations that lived in the Kimberley at the onset of colonisation. It has been our ancestral homelands since the beginning of time when creative beings travelled this earth, singing our country and bringing forth all things into existence, from the rocks and waters to the plants, animals and human beings. Non – Indigenous people call this time the ‘dreamtime’, but for Indigenous people, who belong to different land and sea-scapes that we call country, and speak many languages, it has other names. In the Kimberley’s far north the people call it the Wandjana. Along saltwater country, in and around the town of Broome, it’s the Bugarrigarra. Further inland, around the rocky ranges and spreading into the desert it’s the Ngarrangkarni. These names speak of a time long ago. A time which continues to have a dynamic existence in our present lives. Today, many languages are still spoken in the Kimberley. Language, country, people, culture, creation stories are all connected across time and space making the Kimberley an ecologically diverse multilingual region of many Indigenous countries with strong ancestral histories.
Over the last century, members of all four language groups have come to live together in Fitzroy Crossing, sharing languages, cultural practices, stories and songs emanating from the time of the creative beings. We have a unique society here, based on intergenerational responsibility for our surrounding environments. Our stories and songs tell of an intimate attachment to the land, a deep understanding of ecological connectivity and of our people’s long historical continuity in this region. Today the country continues to sing as it shifts and moves with the fluctuations of the environment. We continue to listen and learn from it. In Fitzroy Crossing, we have a responsibility to work together, as a multi-cultural-lingual community, to keep our culture, our knowledge of the land and our country alive and strong.