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Magabala launches 'Two Sisters'

Mon, Aug 08, 2016

Chuguna and Bent family with Pat Lowe and Eirlys Richards

Sharlene Chuguna, Pat Lowe, Alannah Chuguna, Thomas Ngarta, Eirlys Richards, Sharon Bent and Irene Bent at the launch of Two Sisters. 
Photo: Julia Rau Photography

On Saturday 6th August, Magabala staff and board celebrated the launch of Two Sisters – the incredible true story of Walmajarri sisters, Ngarta Jinny Bent and Jukuna Mona Chuguna – with authors Pat Lowe and Eirlys Richards and members of the Bent and Chuguna families. The event was held at Magabala Books as part of Broome's 5th annual Corrugated Lines Festival of Words. Magabala CEO, Anna Moulton was MC for the evening and Chairperson, Edie Wright officially launched the book.

Sitting around a campfire as the sun set behind them, Thomas Ngarta, Sharon and Irene Bent and Alannah and Sharlene Chuguna – who had all travelled from Derby and Fitzroy Crossing – shared stories and memories of Ngarta and Jukuna's lives and spoke of their pride in the legacy the two sisters have left for their community.

Ngarta spent her early years as a hunter and gatherer. As a young woman, she moved onto stations in the Kimberley. Her artwork has been exhibited in Austalia and overseas. She died in 2002.

Jukuna walked out of the desert in 1961. She worked on cattle stations and moved to Fitzroy Crossing in the 1970s. One of the first women to attend Walmajarri literacy classes and learn to write English, Jukuna's rich account in Two Sisters may be the first autobiography written in an Aboriginal language. Jukuna travelled in Australia and overseas to exhibit her paintings. She died in 2011.

Presented in both English and Walmajarri, Two Sisters recounts Ngarta and Jukuna's exodus from the Great Sandy Desert following European settlement, as told to Pat Lowe and Eirlys Richards. Originally from England, Pat is a widely published author who came to know Jukuna when she lived in a desert camp with artist Jimmy Pike in the mid 1980s. Eirlys first met Jukuna in the late 1960s when she moved to Fitzroy Crossing to study Walmajarri with the goal of teaching literacy and Bible translation. She has maintained her link with Walmajarri people ever since and has published several texts on the Walmajarri language.