Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku

Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku
Monday 18 March 2013

Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku was launched on Friday 1st of March with an accompanying exhibition at Araluen Culture Centre in Alice Springs. The book was co-edited by Steve Morton (CSIRO), Kim Mahood, Mandy Martin and John Carty (RSHA, ANU). John was  the project anthropologist and oral historian.


Paruku, situated between the desert and Kimberley regions of Western Australia, is the remarkable Walmajarri Country that white people came to call Lake Gregory. The lake has played a huge role in the history of the desert region, and in opening up extraordinarily important narratives about our environmental past, our shared present and the future of Australian desert communities. Paruku is a powerful, perplexing, charismatic character in the story of the Australian continent. It is a unique and globally significant environment. It is a desert lake, a world heritage wetland, a human home of great antiquity. Researchers have been coming here to make sense of this place for decades. Walmajarri people have been making sense in this place for a little longer.

Desert Lake tells the story of the lake from these multiple perspectives.

The book and exhibition are the result of an inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration between Walmajarri traditional owners, scientists and artists.  In August 2011 the project team assembled at Paruku for two weeks of intense activity and collaboration.  We came from diverse backgrounds, with varied perspectives and understandings.  We understand the Lake, and each other, in complex, complementary and sometimes contradictory ways.  But this multiplicity is a kind of truth, a type of honesty about how things now are in Australia.

Paruku artists (Photo: John Carty)

Project Support

Desert Lake was developed with the assistance of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, ANU, where the editors met regularly throughout 2012 to bring the project to fruition.


» Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku Exhibition at the Araluen Cultural Centre Alice Springs

Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku is available from CSIRO Publishing here


Updated:  18 March 2013/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications