2021 Milpirri - Yinapaka


Lajamanu, Northern Territory

Lajamanu is a predominantly Warlpiri community on Gurindji land

April - Soundtrack

August/September - Dance and Visual Arts Residency

Milpirri brings us together

An exemplar of how vital long-term relationships are to Tracks’ creative, collaborative heritage-making work; founded on a 30-year relationship between Tracks and the remote Warlpiri Indigenous community of Lajamanu in the Tanami Desert (population approx. 500). Milpirri works across the community - from Lajamanu school to organisations from youth to rangers, as well as male and female elders. This remote performance is a cause for Australian celebration of our 60,000-year dance heritage.

Milpirri is an intergenerational, bilingual, bicultural event that brings Warlpiri, and non-Warlpiri together to “enliven tradition for an intercultural twenty-first-century future” - Wanta Steve Jampijinpa Patrick.

Milpirri/ Lajamanu home page

Building relationships and continued learning

COVID-19 has had a disruptive effect in Lajamanu, and this has affected how we have been able to keep the Milpirri project going, especially the performance. Due to be performed in 2020 the largescale performance was put on hold for 2020 and 2021. Despite this, we have continued to build on our Lajamanu relationships. In 2020, during lockdowns, we created the soundtrack remotely, linking the composers in Melbourne, the Tracks team in Darwin, and Steve in Lajamanu via zoom. Smaller teams were able to visit the community in April to complete the lyrics for the soundtrack with the School students, and in September we were able to work with the school to create dances with the students, despite very low school attendance.

Although it was our intention to present a full Milpirri performance in 2021, it became very clear that the community was still not in a position to do this. Consulting with the Creative Director, Steve Jampijinpa Patrick, and his father, the senior Elder Jerry Jangala Patrick, it was agreed to reshape and move the larger event to a future time when people could come together to celebrate but to continue the work in the community as residences between Tracks and Lajamanu artists and community.

Our creative team of dance artists worked with the school students from grades 4-11 to teach 6 themed dances and this was presented to the community during a school family day.

Where Young Birds Learn to Fly

Yinapaka (Lake Surprise) is a significant Warlpiri sacred site. It is the site of the Sky Ceremony and in the Jukurrpa (Ceremonial Law - Dreaming) it is where the birds went, wanting to learn how to fly higher and be superior hunters. In Warlpiri, the level a bird flies can be related to law and achievement.

The Milpirri Yinapaka Story

Prior to Milpirri Yinapaka’s first development in 2020 Steven Jampijinpa Patrick, in consultation with his father (senior Lajamanu Elder) Jerry Jangala Patrick, wove together the Story. They draw on Warlpiri knowledge and stories focusing on a search to find good teachers to learn from. The main stories have lead characters that reveal human strengths and weaknesses, each of these are connected to the Warlpiri kinship groups. They come from the Warlpiri country areas of Yinapaka, Yarrunkanyi (Mt Hardy), Mungularrpa, Pinja Outstation (Spider Lake), and Nganarirri (near Papinya). These stories feature the Warlawurru (Wedgetail Eagle) Karnka (Crow), Wirntiki (Stone Curlew), Winyiwinypa (Spotted Harrier), Kirrkalunji (Brown Hawk) and Yankirri (Emu).

Milpirri Yinapaka Story as told by Wanta Jampijinpa Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu (Steven Jampijinpa Patrick)


In April 2021 Marc, Rob, David, and Tim returned to Lajamanu to turn the Milpirri Yinapaka story and music from 2020 into a full performance soundtrack. Lyrics were developed with Walpirri youth in the school in response to the story. A narrative in both Warlpiri and English was created and recorded. Men's Walpirri songs of the Warlawurru (Wedgetail Eagle) Karnka (Crow), Wirntiki (Stone Curlew), Winyiwinypa (Spotted Harrier), Kirrkalunji (Brown Hawk) and Yankirri (Emu) were sung and recorded.

Youth Vocals: Lajamanu School students grades 4 and above.

Warlpiri Narration: Steve Jampijinpa Patrick
English Narration: Maxwell Japanangka Tasman,
Men’s Walpirri singing: Jerry Jangala Patrick

Song Lyrics

Dance Residency

Youth dance and choreography has been developed over 2020 and 2021 via zoom and person to person. This has taken place in Lajamanu, Darwin, and with links to Melbourne for the music. 

In August/ September David, Bec and Spillet took up residency in Lajamanu school working with grades 4 and above. School attendance was particularly low and irregular so they ended up joining classes together and rearranging the choreography so that everyone who attended school learned all six dances for Yinapaka:

  • Fire dance and winds - preparing the dancing ground.  Video
  • Crow - Karnka - Don’t break the law.  Video
  • Wirntiki - Stone Curlew - if you play with fire you might get burnt.  Video
  • Winyiwinypa - Spotted Harrier - don’t let others do the hunting for you.  Video
  • Kirrkalunji - Brown Hawk - sustain your efforts.  Video
  • Warlawurru and Yankirri - Wedgetail Eagle and Emu - find the right teacher.  Video

A community showing was held at the school during a Family Day where the community was invited to the school to engage with the students and their work.

Youth Dance Videos

Youth Performers

Japaljarri/Jungarrayi/Napaljarri/Nungarrayi (Yellow Group)

Janine Nungarrayi Penn, Terrance Japaljarri Penn, Desmond Jungarrayi Ronson, Fiona Napaljarri Payton, Levi Japaljarri Penn, Tracie Napaljarri Ross, Nora Nungarrayi Jurrah, Zakky Napaljarri McDonald, Kunja Nungarrayi Dixon, Vincent Japaljarri McDonald

Jangala/Jampijinpa/Nangala/Nampijinpa (Blue Group)

Mazlan Jampijinpa Patrick, Mathias Jampijinpa Boyka, Jane Nampijinpa Patrick, Kunga Nampijinpa Patrick, Sherlonia Nangala Lona, James Jampijinpa Martin, Cedric Jampijinpa Ross, Ambliena Nampijinpa Kelly, Nathayla Nampijinpa Martin, Joash Jampijinpa Leo, Jamien Jangala Tilmouth, Venalia Nampijinpa Martin, Zane Jampijinpa Jurrah, Jaylene Nampijinpa Jurrah

Jakamarra/Jupurrurla/Nakamarra/Napurrurla (Red Group)

Manisiah Jakamarra Dickenson, Della Nakamarra White, Affenie Napurrula Crousan, Joe Jupurrurla Walker, Cleveland Jupurrula Ross

Japanangka/Japangardi/Napanangka/Napangardi (Green Group)

Hamish Japanangka Meanie, Justine Napanangka Poulson, Gaius Japangardi Scobie, Steven Japanangka Dixon, Zania Napangardi Simons, Lesharah Napangardi Scobie, Kanna Napanangka McDonald, Loureed Napanangka Poulson

Thanks to the following teachers for their participation in the performance: Maggie Callingham, Hannah Motter, Karlie Italia and Ashton Landt

Dance Animateurs Maddie and Jordan, originally planned to return to Lajamanu but with the full-scale performance not happening, they remained in Darwin.

Photo Documentation: Zeinab Mahfoud

2020 MIlpirri - Yinapaka (Development)

Bird Tracks

For three weeks Tim took up residence at Warnayaka Arts Centre. Ninety-three bird tracks were painted on timber cutouts by artists from the Warnayaka Arts Centre, depicting the small and high-flying birds of the Yinapaka Story. The bird tracks were painted in the same style as the Milpirri Banners, and the artefacts - Men and Boomerangs and Dancing Boards and Clap Sticks.

The bird-tracks were then installed as installations and photographed. The first two installations were at local water holes near Turkey Nest and at Emu Rockhole. The last installation was a backdrop for the community performance showing.

Bird Track Painters: Mercia Napurrula Lewis, Jocelyn Nampijinpa Watson, Rebecca Napanangka Farrell, Neil Jupurrula Cook, Isaiah Japaljarri Collins, Aaron Jakamarra Donnelly, Felica Napurrula Lawson, Zak Jakamarra Chubbs and Felicia Napurrula Simon.

Installations by: Mercia Napurrula Lewis, Rebecca Napanangka Farrell, Tim Newth, Aaron Jakamarra Donnelly, Jermu Hautsalo, Tina Fu and Louisa Erglis.

Photo Documentation: Michael Erglis

Creative Team

Creative Director: Wanta Steve Jampijinpa Patrick
Artistic Directors: Tim Newth and David McMicken
Senior Milpirri Elder: Jerry Jangala
Animateurs and Youth Choreographers: Bec Reid, Steph Spillett, Madeleine Brown and Jordan Bretherton
Composers and Soundtrack Producers: Marc Peckham and Rob Tremlett

Company Partners

Tracks Inc is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government.

Project Partners

Newmont Goldcorp

Supporting Partners

Central Desert Shire, Warlpiri Education and Training Trust, Warnayaka Arts Centre, Mount Theo Youth Program (WYDAC), Lajamanu School, ALPA Stores and Central Lands Council (Ranger Program)

Tracks 2021

Artistic Co-Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
Company Director: Adelaide Wood
Administrator: Jo Shearn
Production Manager: Duane Preston
Dance Animateur: Jess Devereux
Bookkeeper: It Figures

Committee Members: Venaska Cheliah (Chairperson), Andrea Wicking (Vice-Chairperson), Glenn Bernardin (Treasurer), David Taylor, Michael Grant, Ken Conway, Max Dewa Stretton, Rachael Wallis. David McMicken, Tim Newth, Adelaide Wood (Ex-Officio Members)

Public Fund Trustees: Maari Gray, Will Crawford and Lachlan Peattie

Patron: Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory



Explore Further

Lajamanu/Milpirri Home Page

Milpirri Dances - Videos

Tracks 2021 Artistic Program

Windows into Tracks Works

Tracks 2021


Artistic Co-Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
Company Director: Adelaide Wood
Dance Animateur: Jessica Devereux
Production Manager: Duane Preston
Administrator: Jo Shearn
Bookkeeper: It Figures

Committee Members

David Taylor (Chairperson), Max Dewa Stretton (Vice-Chairperson), Glenn Bernardin (Treasurer), Venaska Cheliah, Andrea Wicking, Rachael Wallis, Michael Grant, Ken Conway. David McMicken, Tim Newth, and Adelaide Wood (Ex-Officio Members)

Public Fund Trustees

Maari Gray, Will Crawford, and Lachlan Peattie


Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory

Company Partner

Tracks Inc is proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government

Project Partner

Newmont Goldcorp

Supporting Partner

University of New South Wales

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