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Aboriginal Placenames

11. Murkarra, a landscape nearly forgotten

The Arabana country of the noxious insects, north and northwest of Lake Eyre

Luise Hercus

written in memory of and at the behest of ‘The Wood Duck Boys’

Introduction: Placenames in Arabana country

Aboriginal names fared worst in the areas explored early

John McDouall Stuart during his 1858 expedition bestowed European names in rapid succession on some of the most important places in Arabana country on the west side of Lake Eyre North in South Australia. He wrote:

As this is the largest creek that I have passed, and is likely to become as good as Chambers Creek … I have called it ‘The Blyth’, after the Honourable Arthur Blyth. (Stuart 1865: 73)

Arabana people once called it Karla Tyurndu ‘the wide creek’.

To the northwest is another isolated range like this. ... I have named it ‘Mt Kingston’ after the Honourable G. S. Kingston. (Stuart 1865: 73)

This was once called Anintyurla, the name of an Arrernte Rainman. The range represents him travelling back north carrying a precious rain-stone.

Struck a large, broad valley, in which are the largest springs yet seen, and the country around is beautiful. I have named these ‘The Freeling Springs’ after the honourable Major Freeling. (Stuart 1865: 75)

These springs were called Yardiya ‘spindle’. The two Ancestral Snakes created these springs, and stayed nearby making hairstring.

Crossed a broad gum salt creek. I have named this ‘Peake Creek’ after C. J. Peake, Esq. M. L. A. (Stuart 1865: 73)

This part of the Peake Creek was once called Kalturruka ‘breaking up a wind-storm by means of incantations’ and it referred to events in the Rain History.

Every single one of the new names, unrelated to the nature of the landscape as they are, has survived and appears on modern maps, whereas the original Aboriginal names are in danger of being totally forgotten, and with them the story they have to tell about the country. These names given in an instant by an explorer have replaced age-old names and traditions.

Figure 11.1: The country west of Lake Eyre. Map by Colin Macdonald.


The main European route through Arabana country initially more or less followed Stuart’s route and went through the spring country immediately east of the Davenport Range and the Peake and Denison Ranges (see Figure 11.1). Along this main European route the Arabana names, as illustrated by the examples from Stuart’s journal, have largely been replaced by European-inspired names. This applies also to the immediate surrounds: thus nearly all the names of the many springs on the east side of the Davenport and of the Peake and Denison Ranges are European, replacing names that evoked visions of mythology. Examples are:

Tarlton Springs was once Yatyaparranha ‘finches’ spring. Only one of the small springs there has absolutely clear and fresh, non-saline water. This is where in the Dreamtime the two big Yellowbellies came out of the ground, and the story of the Fish and Crane began.

Levi Spring was named after a man who brought up sheep from Adelaide to this location before 1864 (Petermann 1867: 440). It was originally called Akernte ‘carrying pad, worn on one’s head’. This is an Arrernte name, given by the two Ancestral Snakes Yurkunangku and Kurkari who created this spring and who had come from Arrernte country: there is a circle of tall rocks by this spring.

North Hawker Springs was Wibma-malkara ‘Dreamtime initiation ground’. The whole area is spectacular on account of the barren saline surroundings of the springs. The lower reaches are totally inaccessible by motor vehicle on account of the crumbly soil overlying a base of black ooze and soft mud. Particularly on the upper reaches there are large slabs of gypsum lying about, which glisten brightly in the sunlight. A hill nearby has many dark rocks, which represent the bodies of boys who have been burnt by initiation with fire.

Brinkley Springs was originally called Wurrunha ‘crane’, because the lone box-tree there represented the Ancestral Crane. The list could go on and on.

Later developments

In the late 1880s the railway line was being built on the west side of the ranges and Oodnadatta was reached in 1891. This brought yet more European names for most of the main sidings in Arabana country, like William Creek, Box Creek and Edward Creek, but the impact was not as drastic as on the old main route. On this west side of the ranges many more Aboriginal names survive, along the railway line and the new main road that accompanied it. Although memories of the old stories are fading, these names still tell of their old mythological associations. Thus we have Calthoorinna Creek, from Kalathuranha ‘turkey’, Willyalalinna Creek, Ulyurlanha ‘old woman creek’ and Ingamungina Well, Inka-mangu ‘yam-forehead’: in the ‘History’ the Rainbow People had found lots of yams in this place and marked it out as their patch. When they came back to collect the ripe yams they found only the little bare stumps, the ‘foreheads’ of the yams – the Sleepy Lizards had crept in quietly and had stolen the lot.

It seems that, unlike the original explorers, people in the latter part of the nineteenth century fortunately did not have the feeling that this was all new country, which needed to be named. However, even during this period names related to European people and station activities replaced many more of the original names, and so we find names like ‘Lambing Creek’, ‘Shilling a Creek’ (someone lost a shilling there in the 1870s) and ‘Coffin-Buster Hill’.1 This applies particularly to places that were important for the pastoral industry. Thus in the area north of the Neales up from Blanket Waterhole we find ‘Bronco Peg Yard’, ‘Woolshed Waterhole’, ‘Susan Dam’, ‘Dinnertime Waterhole’, ‘Canteen Waterhole’, ‘Wood Duck Bore’ and many others.

Neglect of the original names is not surprising as there was little understanding of the nature of the link between country and myth, even amongst the most enlightened. Thus we read in Spencer and Gillen:

Like all savage tribes the Urabunna people appear to feel the need of accounting for every prominent natural feature in their country and they therefore have recourse to the invention of myth. (Spencer and Gillen 1912: 24)

Nearly 100 years later, when traditions are in grave danger and when in many areas it is too late, we can see that the country inspires the myth, and that the myth is not somehow imposed onto the country.

In the remote areas, the last areas to be explored, names are in danger of being forgotten

Aboriginal placenames in the most remote areas fared better than in the vicinity of stations, but many features that are very characteristic of the landscape remain unmarked on modern maps, though they figure in the mythology and are an integral part of the overall vision. In the areas beyond normal pastoral activities such as the Macumba below Christmas waterhole, all the names are Aboriginal. There is however now another danger: with the movement of Aboriginal people away from those more inhospitable areas, the myths and with them the unmarked placenames in remote country could fall into oblivion. The situation of the names in Murkarra ‘the Land of Noxious Insects’ is an example of this.

‘The Wood Duck Boys’

In Arabana country, as in most other places, small local groups clung to their own traditional country until circumstances forced them to leave. There were people living until about 1900 at the Katanha ‘louse’ waterhole and surrounding areas on the Macumba, in ‘the Land of Noxious Insects’, far away from what was by then the location of the main station. Further south there were also people living around Wood Duck Outstation, close to ‘the Land of Noxious Insects’. The best known of the Wood Duck people was Wood Duck Charlie who guided Gregory (Gregory 1906: 35). The bulk of the population had by then, however, moved to where they could get rations, to sidings on the railway line and to the main stations, Macumba, Peake and Anna Creek. The situation is described by Spencer and Gillen:

Nowadays the remnants of the Urabunna tribe are gathered together at the few outlying cattle stations, such as the Peake, where in return for clothes and ‘tucker’ they help in the work of the station. They have long since, except in a very small way, given up the performance of their old ceremonies – even the ordinary corroborees have dwindled down to a mere nothing – and only the older men know anything about, or indeed take any interest in, matters of tribal lore. (Spencer and Gillen 1912: 18)

This information stems from a visit by Spencer and Gillen to the Peake in August 1903. The visitors could not know that at that very time there were certainly young people on the station who took a keen interest in ‘tribal lore’. Mick McLean was there: he was able to show us nearly 70 years later where exactly Spencer and Gillen had camped. Mick, along with the other older teenagers, had been ordered by his elders to keep right away and on no account to talk to the visitors. It was certainly not lack of interest that was keeping the young people away.

The mythology of the areas at a great distance from the main stations was particularly endangered. When Wood Duck Station closed down in 1904 there was no permanent Aboriginal (or white) settlement to the east of those main stations, and people gradually lost touch with the areas closest to Lake Eyre. Fortunately in the 1960s there were still people who remembered the stories and names of that landscape. Mick McLean (Wangkangurru) and Arthur McLean (Arabana, both named after Archie McLean, a later station manager) had done their very harsh initial training in station work at Wood Duck. They called themselves ‘the last of the Wood Duck Boys’. They knew that country in great detail, and wanted the stories and the names of the places to be passed on. Among their favourite names and stories were those of the noxious insects.

The noxious insects and their country

The places connected with biting insects belong to an area on the north and north-west side of Lake Eyre: they are all on the Noolyeanna map-sheet (Topographic map 1:250 000 SG 53-16 South Australia), an area now without a single permanent habitation.

The Hillier-Reuther map of 1904 is particularly vague about this area, because it was geographically so little explored at that time. Nevertheless, this 1904 map shows written in large letters to the west of the Kallakoopah the name ‘Murkara’ – the large letters indicate an area name (see Hercus this volume ‘Some area names in the far north-east of South Australia’). The Reuther volume on placenames has the following explanation:

murka ‘ant’, -ra ‘many’.

This is the name of the local district, signifying ‘Ant Country’. Kirkikirki wandered through this countryside and gave the district the above name on account of the numerous ants. (Reuther 1981, vol. VII entry no. 1176)

Linguistically the explanation is not quite accurate, as murka means ‘ant-egg’ and -ra should be -rra and is not a plural marker. It is the abbreviated form of the word -warra ‘side’ when used as the second member of a compound. In this context warra means ‘direction’, ‘general area’. The name therefore means ‘ant-egg area’. It was known to the Wood Duck Boys, but mainly in connection with the story of Kirrki, the Kestrel (Hercus and Potezny 1993). It is nevertheless highly likely that this term Murkarra was the original name of the whole of ‘the Land of Noxious Insects.’

Three pairs of insects are involved:

  • • Lice (Head-Lice and Body-Lice)
  • • Ants (Bull Ant and Green Ant)
  • • Mosquitoes and Marchfly

In the myth none of these insects travel far, they are all localised Dreamings. The Lice and the Ants do not interact with any major travelling Ancestors; only the Mosquitoes and the Marchfly are connected with a major myth, the Rainbow Brothers.


The northernmost of the biting insects are the lice:2 Katanha ‘head louse’ waterhole, as mentioned above, was an important camping site until the early twentieth century. Winkie’s waterhole (see Kimber this volume) was once Pintyirrinha, ‘body louse (waterhole)’ near Ullabaracoola waterhole on the Macumba. The nearby Petirina Yard, marked on the map, represents the Arrernte name pitherre for the same sort of louse: the area is on the southern edge of the Alkaowra flood flats, which were shared by the Arabana with Wangkangurru and Lower Arrernte people.

In the opinion of the Wood Duck Boys, both the waterholes connected with Lice had verses by which one could send a plague of lice upon one’s enemies. Women owned the body-louse curse, while men owned the head-lice curse. As it happened, the Wood Duck Boys remembered only the women’s Pintyirrinha body-louse verse, and recalled a spectacular, entertaining and no doubt very rude ‘Women’s Body-Louse dance’ connected with this waterhole. They had seen it a number of times and could therefore sing the main verse. There is another waterhole a little further north, in the channel to the west of Mierantana waterhole, which is called Thantanha ‘picking (lice)’. This belongs to the same myth. None of the Louse sites with the exception of Petirina appear on modern maps.


Two vicious ants, Muku the Green Ant and Kalthu the Bull Ant belonged to the area on the lower Macumba from about seven to about 20 kilometres below the Kurlachidla Karla-tyidli3 ‘creek-branch’ waterhole, where the two branches of the Macumba re-unite. There are a few small and almost perennially dry waterholes where the two Ants live out their own story, which was still remembered in the 1960s. These waterholes are not named on modern maps. A brief outline of the story is as follows:

Muku the Green Ant in his gigantic ancestral version killed and ate only lizards and was happy like that. Kalthu the Bull Ant, who was even more ferocious in his ancestral shape, killed dingoes, usually two at a time but got Muku to gut them and cook them for him. Their main camp on the lower Macumba was by a waterhole named Minti-thakarna ‘pegging together the cleaned out abdomen of an animal ready for cooking’. They ranged as far up the Macumba as Mudlamirka Madla-mirrka ‘dog scratching’ waterhole, which is marked on maps. In the end Muku got tired of having to do the gutting and cooking day after day. They had a fight and it ended with Muku the Green Ant cutting the Bull Ant nearly in half – that’s why he looks almost cut in half today. This happened at a waterhole called Kudna-purrunha ‘full of guts’, i.e. ‘guts left in’, the place where Muku decided to stop doing all the gutting and cooking.

Mosquitoes and marchfly: The travels of the Rainbow Brothers to the Land of Noxious Insects

The third set of insects, the Mosquitoes and the Marchfly, have connections with a longer myth, that of the Rainbow Brothers.

The story of the Rainbow Brothers concerns a much larger area and there were songs connected with it. They are mentioned in other myths when the paths of various ancestors cross the path of the Rainbow Brothers. These Brothers are envisaged as buoyant young characters. When they see the Ancestor Thunpila (the Ancestor carrying a dead body) at the Parrangali Swamp east of Coober Pedy they sing a verse taunting him: ‘at the mouth of the Parrangali Swamp, who are you, you ugly foreign devil?’ Only one other verse from their history has survived, and only a couple of placenames could be recorded apart from their journey among the noxious insects.

The outline of the story is as follows. The Rainbow Brothers originated in a cave, called the Wampityi (Rainbow) cave, close to the road near the new Macumba Homestead. The location is not marked on maps, but is still well known and one man of Lower Southern Arrernte/Wangkangurru descent is nicknamed Wampityi because he was born there. It is one of the many sites that do not appear on modern maps. The Brothers set off to find more of their own people and they went to a big Wilyaru4 ceremony at the Kutakuta ‘spotted nightjar’ waterhole on Baker’s Creek, a southern tributary of the Macumba that was once named ‘Midlarkunha Creek’ because it comes from Mt Midlarkunna Midlarkunha ‘little crow’.

They saw the great fire advancing from the Macumba Maka-Wimpa ‘fire track’ and they got out quickly, travelling to the south-east still looking for more of their own people. Nhiki ‘here (we are)’ called some Rainbow people at the Neckeena Nhikinha waterhole. The Two Brothers stayed there for a while and then travelled on to the south-east to a big now unnamed box-swamp once called Pungaritya ‘bent tree good for building humpies (punga)’. On the edge of this swamp is a small watercourse called Manti-karlanha (manti ?, karla ‘creek’) where there is now the Muntee Kullana Bore. Continuing their journey south from here the Rainbow Brothers struck trouble: they had entered the domain of the Mosquitoes.

They came to Boy Creek Utaka ‘now then!’ (see Figure 11.2). In the middle of the creek are the Mosquitoes Yuwinya rocks with a porous-looking crest, which were said to be the main home and breeding place of the Mosquitoes. These rocks (see Figure 11.3) were prominent when Arthur McLean took us there in 1969 – one could imagine swarms of mosquitoes coming out from them. Since then erosion has caused the creek to silt up so much that only the tops of the rocks were visible in 1994 (see Figure 11.4). It seemed likely that before too long this site would disappear and by now (2008) it may already have done so. This is very sad, as it was much loved by those who knew it and was the source of jokes and entertainment.

Figure 11.2: Utaka, Boy Creek, Laurie Stuart looking at one of the many stagnant pools. Photograph by Vlad Potezny.


Figure 11.3: The Mosquito Rocks in 1969. Photograph by Graham Hercus.


Figure 11.4: The Mosquito Rocks in 1994. Photograph by Vlad Potezny.


The Mosquitoes set off in pursuit of the Rainbow Brothers. The Brothers kept on running and came to a flat-topped hill, which was called Purrthakanha ‘they bit’. Here the mosquitoes swarmed over the Brothers, whose blood is still there as a small ochre deposit said to be on the western side of the hill.

Matters only got worse for the Brothers as they fled south. There is a conical hill some two kilometers to the west of the modern track: this is called Murrilya ‘marchfly’ and represents this fierce biting insect. The enraged Marchfly joined in the chase (see Figures 11.5 and 11.6). The Brothers ran to a sandhill, which is right by the modern road. This sandhill, called Yuwinya Mudlu ‘Mosquito sandhill’, is the only one in the area and has lots of bushes growing on it: in the story the Brothers ripped out bushes to try and beat off the Mosquitoes. None of these places, not the Mosquito Rocks, the sandhill, the flat-topped hill nor the Marchfly hill are named on modern maps, yet all except the rocks are still quite conspicuous features of the otherwise flat landscape.

Figure 11.5: The Marchfly Hill. Photograph by Vlad Potezny.


Figure 11.6: Where they were bitten. Photograph by Pamela Macdonald.


By this stage the insects began to get weary of the chase. The Brothers ran all the way up the rough rocky hill called Wadla-alyalya ‘loose rock’, ‘Wadlalgiya’ of modern maps, above the Barlow waterhole. They spent the night there and rushed on the next morning to the sandhill by the Chincardina waterhole Tyingkardanha ‘breaking wind’: it is so called because that is what they did out of sheer relief when they realised the insects were no longer following. The Rainbow Brothers still wanted to put more distance between themselves and the insects and so they travelled on to the south, towards another camp of their own people staying at a waterhole on Ngapa-marra ‘new water’, the lower Neales River (see Figure 11.7). This waterhole is now called ‘Blanket Waterhole’, but once it was called Pilparu Palthiyangunha ‘split by lightning’. Behind all those clouds of biting insects thunderclouds had been following the Rainbow Brothers, and the storm caught up with them just when they had joined their own people at Blanket Waterhole. Lightning struck and split the camp in half. This is a most spectacular site: there are multi-coloured rocks, containing mica, on both sides of the Neales River. These represent the Rainbow people, and in the early 1900s there was apparently a tall and narrow dark rock standing up in the middle of the waterhole, and this represented the thunderbolt. It is said to have been swept away by a flood. The Rainbow Brothers just escaped and continued their travels.

Figure 11.7: Blanket waterhole, the rocks representing the Rainbow people. Photograph by Pamela Macdonald.


As is evident from the stories of just this small stretch of country, ‘the Land of Noxious Insects’, the myths interact in an intricate way to provide descriptions of the coming-into-being of the landscape: all the striking landscape features are fitted into a web of stories. As traditional people travelled around they recalled these stories and the whole landscape was alive. The original names that have survived give us a glimpse of this.

When the basis of a name disappears

The fate of the Mosquito Rocks raises the question: what happens when a feature that has been an essential part of a placename and of a story disappears? People were far too attached to their stories to allow this to be the end, and the relationship between site, name and myth was much more complex than a one-to-one relationship. People lived within the myth; it was part of their view of life. If the feature was a tree, a nearby tree or bush took over, regardless of the fact that it might be of a different species.

In the Kudnangampa story from the area around Lake Eyre South (Hercus 1978) the Kuyani Ancestor killed the Serpent and watched it still writhing in the Bubbler Spring Pirdalinha ‘killing’ (in Arabana): he is still there by the side of the spring as a tree. It is said that long ago this was a mulga tree, but a needlewood (which has now also died) had ‘taken over’, and this was of no consequence to the storytellers. A similar situation applies at Pultyarla ‘gibber-bird’ hill, a site important in the Emu History and in the Urumbula Native Cat History. This place is not shown on maps, though it does appear, but not in quite the right location, on the Hillier/Reuther map of 1904. It is about seven kilometres to the south-east of the Petirina Yard. The surveyor Bill Jeffery, Arthur Warren (Arabana) and I went there in 1977 on a field-trip with Sydney Stuart, the main singer of the time for the Urumbula Native Cat Song Cycle (which is in Arrernte). There is an isolated tree on top of the Pultyaranha Hill. The Urumbula verse for this site is about a witchetty bush, Acacia kempeana. We went all the way up to the top of the hill – only to find that the tree there now was a needlewood, without a shadow of a doubt. This did not perturb Sydney Stuart, who went on happily singing the atnyeme ‘witchetty bush’ verse – the fact that it really was now a needlewood simply did not matter.

A more drastic example is the Coward Spring just off the main Marree-Oodnadatta road, west of Lake Eyre. This was a major site, an ‘over-night camp’ in the Urumbula Native Cat Cycle. It was called Pitha-kalti-kalti ‘crooked box tree’, because of the very special box tree that once grew there in the middle of a bare saline area. The tree had been felled in the very early days of European settlement for making fence-posts, much to the distress of Arabana people, and no tree has managed to grow there since. This made no difference to the name of the place: those few who still remember placenames still call the spring Pitha-kalti-kalti.

So even if the silt totally overwhelmed those Mosquito Rocks, the name would traditionally still be there: people might have transferred it to smaller twisted stones by the side of the creek. Laurie Stuart, then aged 84, the most senior Arabana man who was with us on the 1994 visit, though not familiar with the story, implied this: wandering along the bank he saw some of those smaller stones and said “look, here are some more of those Mosquitoes”.

This shows that placenames are not only important as showing a glimpse of the Aboriginal view of the landscape, they are even historical within the framework of the Aboriginal landscape and may refer to features of long ago. This is all the more reason why they should be saved from oblivion. Even in the most remote areas placenames are endangered, especially those that do not feature at all on modern maps. Their loss would leave all of us in a depleted landscape.


Austin, P. 1981, A Grammar of the Diyari Language, South Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gregory, J. W. 1906, The Dead Heart of Australia, John Murray, London.

Hercus, L. A. 1978, The story of Gudnangamba, a legend of the Lake Eyre region, Arabana text with translation and notes, and with cartography by W. Jefferies, Aboriginal and Historical Relics Section, Department of the Environment, South Australia, Government Printer, South Australia: 26.

— and V. Potezny, 1993, ‘Arkaya. The Kestrel History’, (Wangkangurru text with translation), Report to Australian Heritage Commission, copies deposited at AIATSIS, The South Australian Museum and The Strehlow Research Centre.

Hillier, H. J. 1904, MS Map of Reuther’s Gazetteer of 2468 placenames in north-eastern South Australia, South Australian Museum.

Petermann, A. 1867, ‘Ein Flussdelta im Inneren von Australien und die neuesten Entdeckungen, von Warburton und den Deutschen Missionären Walder, Kramer, und Meissel, 1866 und 1867’, Mittheilungen aus Justus Perthes Geographischer Anstalt über wichtige neue Erforschungen auf dem Gesammtgebiete der Geographie, pp. 439-454.

Reuther, J. G. 1981, The Diari, translated into English by P. A. Scherer, AIAS microfiche no. 2, Canberra.

Spencer, B. and F. J. Gillen 1899, The Native Tribes of Central Australia, Macmillan, London.

— 1912, Across Australia, Macmillan, London.

Stuart, J. McDouall, 1865, Explorations in Australia: The Journals of John McDouall Stuart during the Years 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861 & 1865, edited from Mr Stuart’s manuscript by William Hardman, Saunders, Otley and Co., London.

Appendix: Lists of placenames

The following lists refer only to placenames which have been mentioned in the text.

Table 11.1: List of Aboriginal names which have remained on maps

Map Spelling




Calthoorinna Creek

Kalathuranha ‘turkey’


Tyingkardanha ‘breaking wind’

Ingamungina Well

Inka-mangu ‘yam forehead’

Kurlachidla Waterhole

Karla-tyidli ‘creek branching’


Makampa, maka-wimpa ‘fire track’

Midlarkunna (Mt)

Midlarkunha ‘lesser crow’


Mayarranthanha from mayarru ‘rat’?


Madla-mirrka ‘dog scratching’

Muntee Kullana Bore



Nhikinha ‘here’

Petirina (Yard)

Pitherre ‘body louse’


Yura-parkulu ‘two men’


Wadla-alyalya ‘loose rock’

Willyalalinna Creek

Ulyurlanha ‘old woman’

Table 11.2: List of Aboriginal names superseded by European names

Original Name

Map Name

Akernte ‘carrying pad’

Levi Spring

Anintyurla ‘the Arrernte Rainmaker’

Mt Kingston

Kalturruka Karla ‘broke up (the windstorm) creek’

Peake Creek

Karla Tyalpa ‘creek food’

Anna Creek

Karla Tyurndu ‘the wide creek’

The Blyth

Mardi-mangu-mangu ‘hairstring on forehead’

William Creek

Midlarkunha Karla ‘little crow creek’

Baker’s Creek

Miltyirrinha, var. Milyki-thirri ‘eye gravel(?)’

Dinnertime Waterhole

Ngapa-murilya ‘water dried up’

Umbum Waterhole

Ngurla-apukanha ‘he (the Ancestor

Thudnungkurla) got down there long ago’

Edwards Creek

Papu-thukurlunha ‘egg-hollow’

Big Perry Spring

Pilparu-palthiyangunha ‘split by lightning’

Blanket Waterhole

Pintyirrinha ‘body-louse’

Winkie’s Waterhole on the Macumba

Pirdalinha ‘killing’

Bubbler Spring

Pitha-kalti-kalti ‘the crooked box tree’

Coward Spring

Thundirithanha ‘drowned’

Wood Duck (old outstation)

Tyalpiyangunha ‘(they) cooled down’

Coolabah Yard

Utaka ‘now then!’

Boy Creek

Wurrunha ‘crane’

Brinkley Springs

Wangiranha ‘nitre-bush’

Woolshed Waterhole in Sunny Creek

Wibma-malkara ‘Dreamtime initiation ground’

North Hawker Springs

Yardiya ‘spindle’

Peake Telegraph Station and adjacent

Freeling Springs

Yatyaparranha ‘finches’

Tarlton Spring

Table 11.3: List of names of places that are unnamed on maps




Also known as ‘Coffin-Buster Hill’, north of Umbum waterhole, in the Arabana spring country


‘Louse’ waterhole on eastern Macumba channel


‘Full of guts’, waterhole in lower Macumba


‘Owlet nightjar’, rockhole on Baker’s Creek


‘Pegging together the cleaned out abdomen of an animal ready for cooking’, waterhole in lower Macumba


‘Marchfly’, pointed hill near Boy Creek


Swamp east of Coober Pedy


‘Gibber-bird’, hill to the south-east of Winkie’s Waterhole on the Macumba/Alkaowra


‘Bent tree good for building humpies’, box-swamp near Muntee-kallana Bore


‘They bit’, mesa and ochre deposit near Boy Creek


‘Picking (lice)’ waterhole in channel west of Mierantana


‘Rainbow’ cave on the Macumba road


‘Mosquito sandhill’ near Boy Creek


‘Mosquito camp’, rocks in Boy Creek

1 This is a small rise on the old track north of Umbum waterhole halfway to Big Perry Spring. It does not appear on modern maps, and seemed to be known only to Aboriginal people. In the 1960s Arabana people practically always used the English name: the old name was ‘Kaparra-yaltitya’ (meaning uncertain, though the first part is from kaparra ‘come on’). It forms part of the Fish and Crane History

2 There may be a distant connection between these Lice and a Louse site with a similar story on the Finke below Mt Dare.

3 tyidli is an archaic form of thidli ‘side-branch’, ‘finger’.

4 The Wilyaru is the main secondary initiation ceremony by cicatrisation. It was widespread in north-eastern South Australia. There is an account of an Arabana Wilyaru ceremony in Spencer and Gillen 1899, appendix B: 640ff.

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