Our Culture

OUR People

Our Culture

We Remember

Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country 2008
LOOGATHA, Birmuyingathi Maali Netta, GABORI, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally, THOMAS, Warthadangathi Bijarrba Ethel, MOODOONUTHI, Thunduyingathi Bijarrb May, PAUL, Kuruwarriyingathi Bijarrb Paula, NARANATJIL, Wirrngajingathi Bijarrb Kurdalalngk Dawn, LOOGATHA, Rayarriwarrtharrbayingathi Mingungurra Amy / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / Purchased 2009 with funds from Professor John Hay AC and Mrs Barbara Hay through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / (c) The Artists and their Estates/Copyright Agency / Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

Our People

Lardil, Yangkaal, Gangalidda & Kaiadilt Language Group

Our community is made up of traditional custodian groups, the Lardil, Yangkaal, Gangalidda & Kaiadilt language groups who belong to the Wellesley Islands, Mornington, Bentinck, and Forsyth Islands and the stretch of the mainland from Massacre Inlet to the Albert River. Today, most of the Lardil, Kaiadilt, and Yangkaal people live in the community township of Gununa on Mornington Island with a majority of the Gangalidda language group residing in the mainland communities of Burketown and Doomadgee.

Our Culture

The Wellesley Islands and coastal mainland of the Gulf of Carpentaria are rich in cultural history dating back millennia.

Separated from the rest of the country and mainland, the language group from these regions have been able to keep strong connection to their lore and culture, with many traditional practices still being used to this day.

Mornington Island Dancers

Formerly known as the Woomera Dance Troupe

The internationally renowned Mornington Island Dancers have travelled the world sharing the way of the Lardil people through song and dance.

Since their landmark performance at the opening of the Sydney Opera House back in 1973, the troupe has travelled around the globe, touring more than 20 different countries.

Touring more than 20 different countries

Touring more than 20 different countries


Dick Roughsey

Goobalathaldin is celebrated for his traditional old-style Lardil painting and illustration work.

Among his most recognised achievements were his biography “Moon and Rainbow: The Autobiography of an Aboriginal” and many creation and dreamtime stories including: “The Rainbow Serpent”, “The Giant Devil Dingo” and “The Quinkins”.

Roughsey used his cultural knowledge to share stories the stories of creation of his people with readers all around the world, mostly his dreamtime and creation story’s stories being depicted in children’s novels.

Valerie Lhuede, taken in the 1960s at the Karumba Lodge.

“Percy Trezise and Dick Roughsey discuss a painting of the Rainbow Serpent with Prime Minister Gough Whitlam”, 19 March 1975 / Don Edwards, (PIC/15224) image used with permission- National Library of Australia

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda

Sally Gabori

Her colourful and abstract style caught the eye of art collectors around the world.

Wellesley Islands, and in particular Bentinck Island, were also home to the acclaimed Aboriginal & Kaiadilt artist, the late Sally Gabori (Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda) Her depictions of her homeland are abstract but retain representational elements which map traditional country and cultural identity in monumental paintings.

While many of her peers and family have adopted her abstract and colourful style of art, Sally Gabori will be remembered as the pioneer for the next wave of aspiring Kaiadilt artists.

In 2022 Gabori was honoured with a major solo exhibition hosted by Cartier at the distinguished Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, France. 

For more information on Sally Gabori’s works go here. 

MIART © The Estate of Sally Gabori/Copyright Agency, 2022

We Remember

On 24 November 1999, a charter plane left Mornington Island carrying four of our Directors and a staff member to a board meeting in Normanton.

The flight departed at about 9.15am. Other pilots operating aircraft in the area reported the conditions were not favourable that day for a flight to the south of Mornington Island, however the weather was not particularly bad. At 9.35am the pilot reported he was diverting to Burketown, but the aircraft did not arrive in either Burketown or Normanton. No further report from the pilot was recorded. A subsequent search found articles, identified as being from the plane, in the water to the south of Bentinck Island, but the aircraft was never found.

On that terrible day, the communities of the Gulf lost some of its most valuable members. Onboard the plane were key elders and members of the Mornington Island community who had served on the Board for a number of years and played a key role in providing evidence in preparation for the Wellesley Islands sea claim.

A permanent memorial ring of totem poles has been installed at the Mornington Island airport. Each pole represents one of the souls lost and has been carved with the person’s totem and positioned according to the direction of their tribal lands.

In loving memory of

Mudangee Lelkandu Nelson Gavenor

Mudangee Andrew Marmies

Mudangee Gavin Wilson

Mudangee Olive Loogatha

Mudangee Warrambi Thanba
(Graham Wilson)


Mudangee Anthony Anthonisz
The Pilot

Every year we hold the Dangkakurrijarri Memorial Day in honour of our community leaders lost on that tragic day. The effect on the community is still felt to this day. Their legacy will live on through their community and family members.