Dreamtime stories in the palm of your hand


2482 Emily APP 4 guys OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA

Most tourists come to The Centre hoping to have contact with Aboriginal people but to make that happen, in a meaningful way, isn’t usually easy.
Traditional owners of Emily and Jessie Gaps, both sacred sites, major visitor attractions in the MacDonnells and just a short drive east of Alice Springs, have gone part of the way to fix that problem.
They will talk to you about the significance of the craggy landmarks of orange rocks and sandy creek beds, their plants and animals, and the three caterpillar Dreamtime stories of which they are the custodians.
The group of senior Arrernte people from the nearby community Amoonguna will do so from your mobile phone if you download their interactive App called Sites and Trails NT which they have created together with local IT whizz Edan Baxter.

2482 Emily APP mask

The App is free and the traditional owners invested in its production their rent income from the two nature parks. The project was supported by the Central Land Council (CLC), was four years in the making and cost some $34,000 to develop and maintain.
The App was launched on Tuesday at Emily Gap, known by the Arrernte as Anthwerrke [UN-door-kwa], where the three caterpillar songlines Yeperenye [Yep-ah-RIN-ya], Ntyarlke [N-CHAYL-ka] and Utnerrengatye [OOT-ner-ung-utch] intersect.
The videos, the spoken messages of the traditional owners, the still photos and written information packed into the App, which guides you through the landscape, would have previously taken string of intrusive signs to convey.
The working group’s next project is a walking and bicycle track between Emily and Jessie Gaps.
“Our NT parks rent money community development program is one of the most positive outcomes from the joint management of the 16 parks and reserves in our region,” said CLC director David Ross.
“In 2010 CLC members decided to use 100% of this income stream for community development and last financial year traditional owners invested more than a million dollars of their park rent income in projects they drive.”
PHOTOS: At top – Traditional owners Andrew, Clem and Theo Alice with Member for Namatjira Chansey Paech who launched the App on Tuesday. Above and below: Images from the App.
2482 Emily APP Lynette
2482 Emily APP woomera
2482 Emily APP caterpillar 3
2482 Emily APP wallaby

2482 Emily APP street parade

2482 Emily APP fig
2482 Emily APP wide shot 1
2482 Emily APP wide shot 2


  1. The continuing health of the rock art in Emily Gap, with its easy access to all, is really quite surprising when seen in light of the Twin Gums and the Pine Gap men’s site experiences.
    I have long felt that unemployed people from Amoonguna could well be enticed as a work for the dole activity to sit and protect their cultural heritage 24/7 in keeping with their traditions.
    Such activity would surely be in keeping with cultural maintenance far better than any school based activity for future generations.
    What a wonderful living venue also for cultural interchange with tourists well beyond what an App can provide. The App could then be seen as supporting a real, lived experience.

  2. Mark Wilson, what about doing it as a job and getting paid for it?
    Perhaps white fellas could pay them to protect their / our heritage from outsiders.
    And providing a sought after experience for tourists.
    I believe its a lack of respect and understanding from the tourism industry and others that make these experiences difficult to find.
    Work for the dole is rubbish and people who work anywhere should at least be paid the minimum wage and all other benefits that workers expect.

  3. @ Number 19: “Work for the Dole” is discredited because the projects, like painting rocks white, often have little real value or meaning. We all know this.
    Surely here is a genuine activity that could be replicated across many communities that would give meaning and value to the scheme. I’m not sure that paying again over and beyond Centrelink benefits would be taken up if it resulted in Centrelink being cancelled by your suggestion.
    Nor do I buy your argument that Tourism NT need to buy respect in order to show it. People earn respect, not buy it in the end.
    Indigenous elders would find a real role in cultural maintenance. If Indigenous wish to share their culture I don’t entertain that anyone needs to be paid twice to do so.
    This simply demonstrates that culture has been prostituted to a commodity with a $$ value.

  4. Anthwerrke, Emily Gap, is a major Utnerrengatye site. Not Yeperenye and not Ntyarlke.
    The signage/name change is even wrong. The CLC anthro should be helping TOs with proper research as there has been a breakdown in knowledge.
    This looks to be a great idea but CLC/TOs, do us a favour and get the story and placenames correct. Jessie Gap signage is wrong too.

  5. OK, Mark Wilson, so black fellas should work entertaining tourists and really as experts on cultural matters but we shouldn’t value it by paying for it.
    I suppose most people in the tourism industry would think it would be fair to work for the tourists for a similar rate. Or maybe not.
    I think most tourism ventures work under the idea that they have a product, tour, experience, that people want and the tourists pay for that.
    And then the business pays the workers at least award rates. That seems fair to me.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here