Yurin Kabi

Yurin kabi, gathering place
A special history
Yurin kabi, gathering place
For the Anangu people
So much more than a memory

For thousands of years the people came
From north, south, east and west
Ooldea’s waters were pure and good
Her desert oaks gave rest
Then white man’s plans and the white man’s trains
Wanted the water too
Tribal ways began to fade with white fellas’ easy food

Daisy Bates grew quite irate at the damage the trains had done
She saw a people once so proud turn to beggars in the sun
Annie Lock with the word of God built a mission on ancient lands
Detribalise - the official cry, school lessons in the sand

But yurin kabi was dying now, too many camped too long
The water turned sour, the sand hills blew
Then the British talked of a bomb
Politics and power games, Ooldea was caught between
Shut the mission down; force them south
Was the Government’s new scheme

Old people talk of the Dreaming story, Water snake in all his glory
Had given them the gift of Ooldea water
But when the people left, Water snake slithered away
No more water at Ooldea today


Copyright Jeanette Wormald August 2001 with special thanks to Numitja Iili. Yurin Kabi, also spelt Juldigabi is the Pitjantjatjara name for Ooldea Soak. It means gathering place.

Trans Continental Railway 1911
Due to the efforts of King O’Malley the first sods of the Trans-Continental Railway were turned on the eve of World War 1 between 1911 and 1912 but it was carried out at a huge cost to the Aboriginal people in Central Australia. To build this line and operate the early steam trains on the Trans Continental large amounts of water were required, and many water holes of the traditional owners were destroyed in the process.


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