Milpirri Banner - WIRINGARRI (Barn Owl)

Milpirri Banner - WIRINGARRI (Barn Owl)

Profile of the Wirringarri (Barn Owl)

Wirringarri (Barn Owl) - Photo / Information


Wiringarri is Barn Owl Dreaming.  This dreaming came through Lungkardajarra (Sangsters Bore) from Lake Mackay.  He was cutting a lanti (also called Pili) which is a kind of Warlpiri shovel.  The dreaming ancestor put the shovel down and turned into a snake at Lungkardajarra. The crosses are the tracks of the bird, the parallel lines are the paths of his travels and the circles are the places the ancestor visited.

Find Lungkardajarra on the South Tanami IPA. Either click on the "Jukuurpa Yirdiyi Kari-Yardiyi Kari" tab, or change to English and  click on the "Jukurrpa map" tab (look north along the Tanami Track, just under Sangster Bore - Map

See a Google map of Lake Mackay - Map

Belonging to Skin Groups

Jupurrula, Jakamarra, Napurrurla and Nakamarra (Red Group)

Traditional use

The white face feathers of the Wiringarni (Barn Owl) were plucked and made into necklaces.


Purluwarnti (another name for the Barn Owl) is a name for one of the Warlpiri conflict resolution ceremonies.

Warlpiri digging shovel

The owl was using a Warlpiri shovel (Pili/lanti) at Sangsters Bore.

Pili ngulaji yangka kalalu ngurrju-manu parraja-piya, watiya-jangka tarla-nyayirni-jangka walyaku pangirninjaku, manu ngulyaku pangirninjaku, kuyuku pangirninjaku, yangka pangirninjaku ngapaku. Piliji mardu-piya.

A pili is what they made like a flat coolamon from very hard wood to dig the earth with, or to dig out holes to dig out animals and to dig for water with. The pili is like a small coolamon.

Banner Drawn By

Tim Jupurrula Kennedy (dec) 2005

Artist Profile

Tim Jupurrula Kennedy (dec): Jupurrula was born at Mt Singleton c.1947.  He was a Warlpiri person and lived at Lajamanu. His Dreamings are Kurrkurrpa, Waringarri, and Jurntu. He painted with his wife, Iris Dixon, and also with Abie Jangala , and started painting in 1986.  He was an excellent craftsman and was often seen with his friend Teddy Morrison collecting timber for boomerangs, shields and coolamons.  He was an early and strong supporter of the Warlpiri ranger program. 


In Lajamanu, those looking to learn more information about this dreaming could speak with Bobby Jakamarra Kennedy. 

Latin name for Barn Owl

Tyto alba

Watch footage of the silent day time flight of the Barn Owl - Video

Language Story

Synonms: nganpungu, purluwanti, warrkirdi

Wiringarri, ngulaju wiri. Kirrkarlanji-rlangu kujaka nyina, ngulaju wita. Kala ngari nyanungu-piyayijala wita-wangu wantikilki wiringarriji. Wiri-pardu yika nyina kardirri. Miyalu-wana kardirri, jurrungka kardirriyijala. Wurliyaju lalpurrpari-jiki-jala. Jurlpu yangka yalumpu wiri-wiri-piya - panukari kujakalu nyina kirrkarlanji-pinki. Purlapurla-pinki. Ngulapiya(yi)jala wiringarriji. Kardirrilki. Wilypirirla ka nyina, wilypirirlayijala kurdu-rlanguju, wapami ka, paarr-pardinjarlayijala kankarlu ngurungka, manu ka walyangka pirri-mani. Wilypirirla kaji kurdu nyina, nyanungu yangka - kankarlarra-rlangu nyinami - yurdingkayijala. Kujakarla kuyurlangu jintilyka kurduku kanyirni - puuly-mardarninjarla - wirringarrirliji. Yinyiyijala karla kurduku - witakuju wiringarrikiji - kuyuju. Parrangka-wangu-jala ka wapa, mungangka - wiringarrirji. Pina karna nyina - palka karna nyanyi. Kala yika wapa yangka - kulakarna nyanyilki. Yangka parnkanja-kurra-rlangu. Ngari karna nyanyi - yangka kujakarna wilypirirla-rlangu yilya, kujaka parnkami, wilypiri-ngirli parrangkaju. Wiringarriji milpaju wirilki. Wirringarri ka milpa wiri nyina. Mulyu ka nyina yangka kaninjarrakari. Kirrirdi-pardu. Yiri. Wiringarriji ka nyina - kardirrijala palkaju. Rdukurduku, purturlu, miyalu, pinkirrpa-jarra, wanarrirla; ngulaji ka kardirri-jiki nyina - wiringarriji.

The Barn Owl is big. It is like the Whistling Kite though the latter is smaller. But the Barn Owl is very big and fat. It is a fairly big bird which is white. It is white on the belly and on the head. It has splayed feet. The Barn Owl is a bird like those big ones, those others like the whistling kite or the fork-tailed Kite. But it is white. The Barn Owl goes into a hollow in a tree and sits there. Its young also nest inside a hollow tree. It takes off and flies up in the sky, and it lands on the ground. If there are young ones in the hollow tree then the adult perches on top like when the Barn Owl brings a grasshopper to the young one after catching it. It gives the meat to the young one, the baby owl. The Barn Owl doesn't fly around in the day time, it flies at night. I know it, I see its body. But when it flies around I don't see it, like when it's flying. I just see it like when I cause it to go out from its hollow in the day time. The Barn Owl is big-eyed. Its beak is curved downwards, it is a little bit long and pointed. The Barn Owl's body is white; its breast, back, belly, both wings, legs - the Barn Owl is completely white.

Wiringarri ka nyina jurlpu kuurrkuurrpa-piya - kala kardirri-nyayirni.

The Barn Owl is like the Boobook Owl except that the former is very white.

Source: Dictionary Source: Laughren, M., K. L. Hale, and Warlpiri Lexicology Group, 2005 Warlpiri-English Encyclopaedic Dictionary. (Accessed Via Kirrkirr Interface to Electronic Files.) University of Queensland


Wycliffe Well on the Stuart Highway between Alice Spring and Tennent Creek is called the alien capital of Australia. One explanation is that the sighting of UFOs in the district is due to light shining off the wings of the Barn Owl.

Further Reading

Read more about the Warlpiri conflict resolution ceremony called Purluwarnti (another name for the Barn Owl) in page 79 of Dussart, F., (2000) The Politics of Ritual in an Aboriginal Settlement: Kinship.Gender and the Currency of Knowledge. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Jurlpu Wardikinpirri-wana: Bilingual Warlpiri Bird available for the Yuendumu school BRDU.  An extract from this book talks about the different habitats in which birds are found:

Yuurrku – Mulga forest 

Lots of birds live in the mulga forest, small ones like the bell bird, crimson chat, red capped robin, hooded robin, mistletoe bird, they all build their nests and lay their eggs in the tops of trees. So do bigger birds like the grey crowned babbler, butcher bird, crested pigeon, diamond dove and bronze wing pigeon. The southern boobook owl and the barn owl make their nest for their eggs in hollow trees in the forest or in bloodwood trees on the plains. They come out at night to hunt for meat.

Interesting facts about Sangsters Bore

The Barn Owl dreaming was a Lungkardajarra (Sangsters Bore). Sangsters Bore has been an important desert wildlife monitoring and research area for many years. For example: “The Parks and Wildlife Commission has had a long and productive involvement with the mala, which includes the capture of the original captive breeding program animals in the early 1980’s from the Sangster’s Bore area of the Tanami Desert.”

Read about the Mala relocation Lungkardajarra (Sangsters Bore) - Story

Mala Milpirri Banner Page - Photo / Information


Tim Jupurrula Kennedy draw this Wirringarri (Barn Owl) design in 2005 here he is collecting timber for a Kurdiji (Warlpiri shield)
Bobby Jakamarra Kennedy (front) son of Tim Jupurrula Kennedy in Milpirri 2005. Someone you could speak to about this dreaming. Photo: Robert Carter.
Rosie Napurrurla Tasman and Molly Napurrurla Tasman performing in front of the Wiringarri Banner in Milpirri 2005. Photo Robert Cater.

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