ABC: After 70 years, Aboriginal sacred site Kurlpurlunu found in Central Australia

Published: 4 Jun 2015

From ABC, Xavier La Canna, 4 June 2015

An Aboriginal elder in Central Australia has shed tears of joy upon the rediscovery of a sacred site lost for the past 70 years.

Previous attempts to find the Tanami Desert site, known as Kurlpurlunu, had proved fruitless untilWarlpiri elders, George Jungarrayi Ryder and Molly Nappururla Tasman flew over the area in a helicopter last week.

The elderly pair had visited the site as children and recognised some of the features, including a distinctive tree and a rock.

The site's identity was confirmed by 82-year-old Jerry Jangala, who also travelled to the spot by helicopter.

"He said, that is the rock I was sitting down on when I was a little one," said Central Land Council chairman Francis Kelly who was also on the trip.

When he was brought to the site, marked by two distinct sand hills and a bubbling waterhole, he was reportedly overcome with happiness.

"He was singing a song representing that place," Mr Kelly told 783 ABC Alice Springs.

"He started crying then."

The site, about 500kms north-west of Alice Springs, is important to the Warlpiri people because it was used for all the ceremonies for that area, including songs and rain dancing.

"It is a rain-making dreaming that Kurlpurlunu," Mr Kelly said.

Mr Jangala said being at the site was "amazing" and the area was significant to his people.

"We would like to go there. Everybody would really like that too," he said.

While at Kurlpurlunu, Warlpiri rangers undertook a prescribed burn of the area.

There are also plans to protect the area from feral camels.

When news was posted on the Central Land Council's Facebook page people posted comments in praise of the discovery.

"I know so many people who dreamed of this for years!" one post said.

"My heart fills with happiness!" said another.

Jerry Jangala and others stand near the Kurlpurlunu sacred site