Traditional Owners Of The Kimberley Coast
Balanggarra translates to ‘one mob together for country’ a name bestowed by elders for the gra (country). The Balanggarra native title area covers more than 30,343 square kilometres of land in the north Kimberley including the Wyndham township, Kalumburu, Oombulgurri and Forrest River Aboriginal reserves, Carson River pastoral lease, parts of the Drysdale River National Park, unallocated Crown land at Cape Londonderry, Carson River and the Cambridge Gulf Coast. The northern boundary crosses over into sea country and includes a few islands close to the coast including Reveley Island, Adolphus Island and the Sir Graham Moore Islands.
The Balanggarra people believe that the creator being of the dreamings bestowed the laws and responsibilities of looking after the land to the Indigenous peoples. One of note is the wungkurr, meaning rainbow serpent, of which two travelled from Sir Graham Moore Island to become the twin falls at King George Falls.
The Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC oversees the land on behalf of as well as protects the native title rights and interests of the Balanggarra people.
Balanggarra country is the location of the oldest known rock painting, dating 17,000 years old. The age was determined in a joint effort between the Traditional Owners and the University of Western Australia, using radiocarbon dating on mud wasp nests located over and under sixteen similar paintings. The painting is located on the wall of a rock shelter and depicts a kangaroo. These efforts are part of researcher’s development of a time scale for Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley region.
Uunguu (Wunambal Gaambera)
Uunguu translates to ‘our living home’.
The Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation manages the administrative and business affairs of the Wunambal Gaambera people while the Wanjina-Wunggurr (Native Title) Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC manages the native title rights and interests on behalf of the Uunguu, Dambimangari and Wilinggin native title holders.
The Uunguu determination covers 25,909 square kilometres of gra (land) and wundaagu (saltwater). The Uunguu native title determination is part of the wider Wanjina Wunggurr cultural bloc that also includes the Dambimangari and Wilinggin native title determinations. The Uunguu determination area is associated with the Wunambal and Gaambera language groups.
The Wanjina Wunggurr people share the same beliefs and law based on the Wanjina and Wunggurr spirits – the creators of country. Tracing back to lalai (creation) when the Wanjina and Wunggurr creators arrived and created all things, bringing languages alongside laws and customs to live together with neighbours.
The first people to mix with the ancestors from this land were the Indonesian Makassan fishermen about two hundred years ago when they would visit annually in traditional outrigger boats. On their visits they would set up camp on the coast to collect trepang from the reefs before sailing back to their home. The people of Uunguu gained knowledge and materials from the visitors, including improved canoe design and iron for implements. It was in the 1900s when Europeans began their exploration of the land, a notable settlement located at Vansittart Bay. During this time, the Wanjina Wunggurr people gained some work and experiences and traded trepang and dingo pelts for supplies from this settlement.
A Uunguu Visitor Pass is required for air, road, and coast visitors to this land. The major attractions we visit in this area are Njula (Jar Island), Punamii-Uunpuu (Mitchell Falls), Banjal (Vansittart Bay) & the Anjo Peninsula, Warrabii (Swift Bay), Wuuyuru (Bigge Island), and Wunbung-gu (Careening Bay).
Dambimangari translates to ‘belonging to homeland’.
The Dambimangari native title holders are part of the Wanjina Wunggurr cultural bloc of the north Kimberley which shares the same mythology and law based on the Wanjina and Wunggurr spirits – the creators of country. The Dambimangari native title area covers 27,932 square kilometres of country renowned for its natural, cultural and heritage values. Dambimangari country stretches from King Sound, Camden Sound and Montgomery Reef across the islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago through to Hall Point and Horizontal Falls.
The Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation manages the administrative and business affairs of the Dambimangari people while the Wanjina-Wunggurr (Native Title) Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC manages the native title rights and interests on behalf of the Dambimangari, Wilinggin and Uunguu native title holders. The Dambimangari community population is around 1000 people.
Dambimangari country is a significant area of international conservation. The area hosts over 3,000 kilometres of Australia’s coastline featuring low beaches that are home to critical sea turtle populations and vivid sandstone cliffs that plummet into the ocean. It is the only region in Australia that has seen no extinction in wildlife since European settlement – making it the stronghold for rare wildlife it is today. Some of these threatened species no longer found in other parts of Western Australia include the Northern Quoll, the Golden Bandicoot, and the Golden-backed Tree Rat. More species endemic to the land are the Wyula (Scaly-tailed Possum), the Black Grasswren and the Kimberley Honeyeater.
Key locations we visit in this area include Montgomery Reef, Crocodile Creek, Nares Point, Talbot Bay & Horizontal Falls, Ruby Falls and Little Ruby Falls, Raft Point (Ngumbirri), Freshwater Cove (Wijingarra Bard Bard), Langgi, Hanover Bay, and Camp Creek.
The Mayala native title determination ties together hundreds of islands, interlaced sea and associated reefs in the Buccaneer Archipelago, located north of Derby. The area totals around 132 square kilometres on land and 3,668 square kilometres of sea. The islands are largely untouched and as a result are rich in biodiversity and have no introduced animals and few weeds, making the area a haven for threatened native species. Key vulnerable animals that call Mayala country home are the Northern Quoll, dugong and five species of marine turtle.
The people of Mayala carry the responsibilities of their ancestors to be the caretakers of the land and the life it fosters. They have a deep and unique knowledge of the complex currents and tides of the area, called the loo and noomoorr. The culture of the Mayala people is timeless, underpinned by caring for the country through cultural protocols passed down from milonjoon (from long ago). There are many sacred sites for ceremonial and traditional purposes across the Mayala country, reflective of the people’s thousands of years spent living on the land. The name Mayala derives from the spinifex grass that grows on the islands.
Key locations which we visit within the Mayala area include Hidden Island and Silica Beach.
The Bardi Jawi native title claim covers 1,037 square kilometres of land and sea country on the Dampier Peninsula.
The Bardi and Jawi Niimidiman Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC manages the native title rights and interests on behalf of the Bardi and Jawi people. The people of the Bardi Jawi country are two distinct groups – the Bardi people and the Jawi people. Both groups share the same beliefs and law and live on the mainland peninsula.
Rangers of the land notably manage activities conserving populations of dugong and turtles native to the area, equipped with traditional ecological knowledge recording alongside collaborative research. The group received government funding in 2007 as part of the Working on Country program, which improved the group’s capacity and ability to perform their important work on the land, earning them the esteemed Banksia Environment Award in 2008.
The land is of high conservation value due to its cultural and environmental significance and biodiversity. The Bardi Jawi area is a natural habitat that fosters native garrabal (seabird). Many species are known to the area including Gouldian Finches, Yellow Wagtails, Oriental Cuckoos, Pergrine Falcons, Chestnut-backed Button Quails and Bush Turkeys.
On our voyages we occasionally visit Cape Leveque, that is within this area.
Inclusive of both northern and central Kimberley land, Wilinggin is an Indigenous Protected Area and is the traditional lands of the Ngarinyin people. The Ngarinyin represent about 60 clans who belong to four larger nations: Arawarri Nyawngara, Walinjara Burri, Werangarri Nyuwelngana and Wurlajaru Marrangarna.
The Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation manages the business affairs of the Wilinggin people while the Wanjina-Wunggurr (Native Title) Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC manages the native title rights and interests on behalf of Wilinggin, Dambimangari and Uunguu native title holders.
The Wilinggin native title determination area is located in the heart of the Kimberley along the iconic Gibb River Road and covers more than 60,150 square kilometers – an area the size of Tasmania.
The land is diverse featuring sandstone ranges and gorges, rivers and saltwater areas, lowland savannahs, and pockets of rainforest. The area also contains cultural sites and rock art of historical and cultural importance.
This area borders onto Prince Frederick Harbour which is a destination we often visit.
The Yawuru people are recognised as the native title holders across Rubibi (Broome) and surrounding land and waters. The claim area covers 5,298 square kilometres of country from from Bangarangara to the yalimban (south) to Wirrjinmirr (Willie Creek) to the guniyan (north), and banu (east) covering Roebuck Plains and Thangoo pastoral leases.
The Yawuru Native Title Holders Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC manages the native title rights and interest of the Yawuru people. The population of Broome is around 15,000 people and, as a popular holiday destination, received more than 35,000 visitors annually.
The people of Yawuru have a strong philosophy of mabu liyan (good spirit), which feeds into their holistic understanding of positive wellbeing that is linked to the environmental aspects of life. The Yawuru Cultural Management Plan (YCMP) is award-winning and widely recognised as a benchmark of excellence in Aboriginal land management design. Evident in the Yawuru conservation estate, which encompasses a 100-kilometre-long coastal park – a living cultural landscape managed for conservation and biodiversity.
We depart from and arrive in Broome as part of our voyages.
We are privileged in Australia to have lands rich in culture and biodiversity. If you would like to experience these beautiful locations for yourself, now is the time to book your next adventure on one of our exploration cruises that visit the places mentioned on this page. See our iconic Kimberley voyages and our Across the Top departures.