Collections from the National Museum of Australia

Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route


This exhibition has now finished. Please visit Exhibitions to see what’s on at the Museum.

Aboriginal people of Australia’s Western Desert have lived in their homelands for millennia.

The expansion of the Western Australian mining and pastoral industries in 1906, led to the surveying of a track along which cattle could be moved from Kimberley stations to markets in the south. This 1,850km track, and the wells that were created along its length, became known as the Canning Stock Route.

Similar stock routes were established across Aboriginal lands throughout Australia. The artworks in this exhibition depict the story, disruption, and diabolical impact of one such track, told from the perspectives of diverse Aboriginal peoples whose Country it crossed.

It is a story of contact with kartiya (white people), of conflict and survival, of exodus and return. Above all, it is a story of family, culture, Country and resilience.

Yiwarra Kuju means ‘one road’ in Mandiljarra, a shared language used by the ten Aboriginal language groups who participated in the making of this exhibition.

Plan a visit

Visit: From Monday 30 November
Entry: Free
Contact: 1300 134 081
Location: National Collections, Level One



Level one map

Collections from the National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia and the Western Australian Museum share an ongoing commitment to connect the many strands of Australian experience and history.

Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route is first in a series of planned displays at WA Museum Boola Bardip to feature works from the National Museum of Australia's collections and share stories of significance to Western Australia.

This initiative reflects an ongoing partnership between the two institutions, with the shared aim to increase accessibility of museum collections.

Yiwarra Kuju was originally developed by the National Museum of Australia, ten Aboriginal art and cultural centres and FORM. These highlights from the Canning Stock Route collection were painted in 2007 and acquired by the National Museum of Australia in late 2008. The inaugural exhibition at the National Museum launched in June 2010 with 54 artists present. A Yiwarra Kuju banners display was created in partnership between the National Museum of Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Yiwarru Kuju has toured widely, both nationally and internationally, since 2010. To date the collection and this important national story has been shared with over 1.6 million people in over 40 countries worldwide.

Provenance & Acknowledgements

The Canning Stock Route collection comprises over 130 artworks, as well as family trees, oral histories, photographs and short films. This collection and the Yiwarra Kuju (One Road) exhibition grew out of Ngurra Kuju Walyja (One Country, One People) - the Canning Stock Route Project.

FORM brought together the vision, energy and resources to collaborate with more than 240 Aboriginal people, including 110 artists and nine remote area art centres in 17 locations, and over 100 non-Aboriginal contributors to co-design and co-produce the project and exhibition with the National Museum of Australia.

We acknowledge the many Aboriginal people who shared their stories, to the managers and staff of the art centres, FORM staff members and contractors and teams at the National Museum of Australia.

For a full list of acknowledgements, please view the audio-visual screen next to the display of Martumili Artist's Our Country.

Yiwarra Kuju -- The Canning Stock Route


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Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route is a travelling exhibition developed and presented by the National Museum of Australia.