Profile: Donny Woolagoodja, Co-founder of Wandjina Tours

Donny Woolagoodja is a renowned artist, respected Worrorra elder and co-founder of Wandjina Tours – a cultural tourism initiative we are delighted to be involved with on our 2013 Kimberley voyages.

Age: 62
Born in Kunmunya – lives in Mowanjum
Language Group: Worrora
Clan Group: Larrinyuwai
Position: Director of Wandjina Tours, Senior Cultural Advisor, Guide, Artist

I was born at Kunmunya Mission in the far north of the Kimberley. My tribe is the Larrinyuwai clan from the Bottom Worrorra language group. I also belong to Yawijibaya, Umida and Unggarrangu language groups. I am connected to the Top Worrorra country through my grandparents.

When I was still a child my people were moved south from Kunmunya to Wotjalum Mission near Yampi Sound. We lived there until the 1950’s when the mission was moved to Derby to a settlement called Mowanjum. When they developed the airport they moved us again to new Mowanjum where most of my family still live today. We were no longer living on Worrorra country and longed to return with our families to our country so we set up a small community on our country at Yaloon in Cone Bay. This is a remote area and it’s hard to live there full time with no school or medical facilities, but we try.

In 2010 we started our cultural tourism business Wandjina Tours. This business is for our Worrorra clan, to get our people back to country and provide meaningful jobs for our young people. We want to keep our Wandjina culture strong and alive.

One of the most important cultural sites we visit is Langgi, it is my grandfather’s wunggurr (child-spirit place), which holds special importance for me.

Passengers on Aurora's Broome-Darwin voyages will have the chance to enjoy an authentic Worrorra Welcome at the important cultural site of Langgi, with a beach greeting followed by ochre painting, a smoking ceremony, and a wander through Langgi with the Wandjina guides who interpret the area's significance and stories. A short boat ride south of Langgi brings us to Wijingarra bard bard (Freshwater Cove) to meet the Wandjina Aboriginal artists. After a traditional welcome, guests will have the opportunity to learn about the history of the area and meet the artists at work over a cup of tea and damper. For those who wish to purchase art on country, this is possible direct from the artist.

For more information on these cultural tours and the 2013 Kimberley program click here.