Jirndawirrinha is the Yindjibarndi name for Millstream. Located on the Fortescue River, it is central to Yindjibarndi identity and spiritual belief. It is part of the river system that is home to large pools and permanent springs.
The most significant pool at Jirndawirrinha is Nhankangu, also known as Deep Reach. The traditional custodians for this area are known as Nhankangu and include Sylvia Allan, Bruce Monadee and Jimmy Horace. It holds an important story about Barrimirndi, the powerful Dreamtime serpent who travelled from the sea to the desert.
Also found here is Lily Pond, which is an important example of the need for Yindjibarndi traditional custodians to be involved in the care and maintenance of Country and cultural places. In past years Yindjibarndi station workers would keep Lily Pond free of weeds and debris, and routinely clear out the lilies to support the natural eco-systems and maintain the free flow of water. Cultural practices were performed at Lily Pond by senior Yindjibarndi men that would ensure rainfall to keep Country healthy. Without this important cultural maintenance by Yindjibarndi people, the pool becomes clogged and the pool is no longer healthy. The health of Country directly impacts the health of the Yindjibarndi community.
Cliff Lookout is another important part of the Jirndawirrinha cultural landscape. From the Lookout you can see an old campground located at the base of the cliff along the Fortescue River. This camp is the preferred place for swimming along the river because there is very little current. The place is linked to important sites for Yindjibarndi law and cultural practices in the area. Yindjibarndi mythology tells of a tree near Cliff Lookout that people would hold on to in case the warlu (water serpent) was upset and came after them. The warlu becomes angry if cultural practices are not adhered to when entering Yindjibarndi country. Yindjibarndi traditional custodian Michelle Adams showed Yindjibarndi children on their trip how to welcome themselves into this country, the warlu’s country.
Hundreds of Aboriginal people lived and camped around Jirndawirrinha in the early pastoral years, and tribes from across the region travelled to participate in ceremony. During an expedition by F.T. Gregory in 1861, the area was described as a stream having enough water to supply a large mill. Subsequently it was named Millstream.
Settled amongst the palm groves in the south-west corner of Millstream Chichester National Park, the homestead was constructed in 1919 under the management of Claude Irvine. The structure is listed on the Register of the National Estate (WA) because of its heritage integrity and long association with the Gordon family. In 1923 Irvine invited his grandson Les Gordon to take over as manager, after which he and his wife settled into life at Millstream and developed a large garden. After the Gordons sold the station, the Public Works Department bought the lease and from 1975 to 1986 the homestead operated as a tavern until the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) took control, turning it into a visitor centre in 1989.
Many traditional custodians for this area have living stories of time spent at Jirndawirrinha during the station days. Some remember from their childhood the old orange tree at the homestead that still flowers today. The Yindjibarndi Traditional Owners have strong ties to this area that stem from a deep cultural and historical connection.
In the old kitchen of the Millstream homestead is a Metters No.6 stove that was commonly found at remote stations in the outback. Metters pioneered the manufacture of wood-fired stoves in Australia and transported them from their factory in Adelaide during the 1930s. Other examples can also be found at Mt Stuart and Mt Florance.
Behind the old kitchen is a Richmond & Chandler No. 64 Chaff Cutter. This is likely to have been manufactured in the interwar years, so is a similar age to the Metters Stove in the kitchen. Unlike the Metters Stove, this machine was manufactured in Salford, Lancashire in the North of England and was shipped to Australia for sale. The chaff would have fed the working livestock on the station.
Heavy horses were kept at Millstream for working the ground. This may have included Clydesdales that were once bred at Mt Florance. Keeping horses at the station has led to lots of old artefacts lying around the place. What can you see in the photos that indicates what sort of horses were kept here?
Not all the hard work was done by horses, and a range of tools that would have been worked by hand were also found at the homestead.
Millstream Airstrip Camp
While on a visit to Jirndawirrinha, Yindjibarndi Traditional Owners camped out at the Millstream Airstrip overnight. The ladies told lots of stories around the campfire, including talking about traditional bush food. They cooked and ate bush tomatoes (garlumbu) and focused on passing on stories to the next generation through the Yindjibarndi children who were on the trip.
Travel through Jirndawirrinha with Yindjibarndi elders to different pools such as Nhankanhunha, home to the Barrimirndi Dreamtime serpent. Elders recall memories of living and working at the station and take us on a tour of the homestead and kitchen where their families used to work. This panoramic tour lets you see Jirndawirrinha from the perspective you would see it if you were there, with key features and media content embedded in the content of the place.