Henry Wambini (Jawalyi)

Henry Wambini was born in caves which the family sometimes used, on old Tickalara cattle station, just south of Turkey Creek and west of the Bungle Bungles, where they were given tobacco and tucker for catching dingoes and presenting the ears as proof. Henry soon learnt stock work on the big station, became a very adept horseman, and over the ensuing years, worked the cattle for contract musterers on many of the East Kimberley pastoral leases, including Spring Creek, Mabel Downs, Bow River, Texas Downs and Lissadell. During this time, he was admitted to the leprosarium at Derby, under observation for leprosy, or, as he put it; ‘for dark blood’, he stayed there for five years, gardening and doing odd jobs, then, with no visible lesions, he returned to Bow River. He found that his wife, the mother of his two daughters, had gone with his cowboy friend, Rover Thomas, so he immersed himself in his stock work.

Some years later, he injured his right arm, partly paralysing it, in a truck accident, but Henry adapted well to painting with his left hand. Texas Downs was the last station on which he worked before the Aboriginal stockman’s dispute, which resulted in all of the families going to live, first in Wyndham, and then, in the new community at Turkey Creek / Warmun. In the eighties, with life long friend, the late Jack Britten, he helped to establish the tiny community at Frog Hollow, near Tickalara.

Henry Wambini passed away in February 2003, where he was a resident at the Hostel at Warmun Community.

He will be remembered for his uncluttered, minimalist paintings of his ‘country’, Tickalara, and the old cattle stations, Hann Springs and Bungle Bungles.

Subject & Themes
The artist’s country Tickalara, the old cattle stations, Hann Springs and the Bungle Bungles

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