Stretching over 6,500 square kilometres, Bunuba Country sits in the heart of W.A.’s West Kimberley region. Around 400kms inland from Broome, the township of Fitzroy Crossing, in the south-eastern corner of Bunuba Country is where most Bunuba people live today. Bunuba families are responsible for particular areas, called muwayi (or clan estates) and we inherit these responsibilities for Country through our parents and grandparents.
Our eastern muwayi follow Bandaralngarri, the mighty Fitzroy River, whose headwaters spring forth at Thalalngi (Dimond Gorge). The northern muwayi are bounded by the spectacular sandstone ranges which we call Miliwundi (formerly King Leopold Ranges). The south-west is distinguished by Malaraba (Erskine Ranges), and sitting to the south east you will find Dawadiya (Trig Hill), just outside of Fitzroy Crossing.
Etched deep into the Bunuba landscape is the story of Australia’s continental evolution. Out of the winamu (sandstone) of the north, rises the rugged, rock-hewn range of Miliwundi. Eons in the making, these 560-million-year-old mountains were forced up during the collision between three ancient landmasses – the Kimberley, the Pilbara and Yilgarn (a craton which forms the Goldfields & South West) This geological activity, which began 1,800 million years ago, saw the formation of the future Australian continent. The winamu landscape harbours some remarkable and extraordinary ecosystems. Spectacular waterfalls, unique plants, rare animals and pockets of rainforest all flourish within the shelter of the winamu.
The striking Ganimbiri (Oscar) and Napier Ranges sit further south in balili (limestone) Country. These ranges are the remnants of a shallow-ocean barrier reef that fringed the Kimberley coastline during the Devonian Period. Taking shape around 360 – 380 million years ago, Bunuba’s Devonian Reef is considered one of the best-preserved limestone reef systems in the world. Capturing 20 million years of imperceptible growth, this reef provides a fossilised window into our evolutionary past.
From exposure to the elements over the millennia, the balili has been cut down into dramatic crevices, caves and gorges. Within these dramatic geological formations are echoes of the very origins of life itself. Today, this landscape is criss-crossed with subterranean aquifers, watering holes, springs, creeks, cave systems and rivers. We call these freshwater places garuwa